2-2-5 Finger Cymbal Pattern - including Dance Drills
(YouTube clip below)


Another Basic Pattern Variation for Finger Cymbals

The 2-2-5 Pattern

ZAGHAREET! magazine, "For Beginners" (Jan/Feb 2009)
by Anthea Kawakib Poole

Finger Cymbal PATTERNS for Beginners (part 4)

Over the last four articles we've been through Singles, Doubles, Rolls, Triples, and started combining them into patterns (we've only done the 3-3-7 so far); weíll add one more this time, the 2-2-5 pattern.

If youíre thinking, ďOnly one? I want more!Ē sorry about that! Go for quality over quantity. Learn a little bit well before moving on. All the videos, workshops, new choreography or combinations wonít help you if you donít assimilate the material.

So take your finger cymbal patterns and practice a little at a time (15 minutes) on a regular schedule (3 times a week) to train your body and mind in this new skill. If youíve been practicing diligently but donít understand or canít follow something please contact me.

If youíve been following along with this series of articles, you know the best practice method to use at home. You can try the pattern while sitting down to get used to the timing of the rhythm, but itís ALWAYS best to practice your finger cymbals while in dance position - standing up with your arms in a dance pose.

You know also that you start any new pattern very s-l-o-w-l-y, and by slowly I mean with the beat (ticking) of the metronome going at about 72 bpm (beats per minute). See www.metronomeonline.com

Technical reminder: the Beat (or the Count) is the numbers that tick by steadily like a clock or metronome, a Rhythm is a pattern of beats, and is usually not steady on the numbers Ė some parts of the rhythm will be faster (or closer together on paper) than other parts.

Hereís the 2-2-5 pattern (Figure 1, below):

cymbal pattern 2-2-5

You can count it either by beat: 1 & 2 & 3a&a4; or by cymbal strokes: 1 2, 12, 12345.

The main thing to realize on this pattern is that it starts WITH the first beat, unlike Triples or 3-3-7, which start BEFORE count 1.

So after you drill the 2-2-5 pattern enough to be comfortable with it, a good exercise is to alternate the 2-2-5 with either of the other ones, to make sure you are starting them all at the right time.

Combining Different Patterns in Your Drills

Our first ďcomplex drillĒ will use 2-2-5 and Triples, the second drill will use 2-2-5 and 3-3-7. And then on the YouTube video weíll add two different dance combinations that reflect each finger cymbal patternís rhythmic drive! So thatís a lot to practice.

If you missed the previous articles, the suggested practice session drill went something like this (but realize itíll work better if you donít try to do them all right now - remember quality before quantity. The ďchallenge levelĒ gets progressively harder):

A - Easy

In dance position, play the new pattern in the following drills:
  1. a weight change on the beat/count (beat and count mean the same in this context)
  2. a hip sway on the beat
  3. a walking step on the beat:in a forward and backward Line of Dance; around in a circle L.O.D.
  4. isolation in place* (hip lift, figure 8, torso undulation, shoulder roll, etc.)
  5. traveling step* (shuffle step, cross-overs, arabesques, etc.)

B - Medium

Now do the above drills (#1 through 5) alternating the new pattern with an old familiar pattern. Before you start, decide how many of each cymbal pattern youíre going to do; in class, sometimes Iíll start with four each, then go to two each, then one each.

C - Harder

If you want to challenge yourself: do the drills above, but speed up the tempo (use the metronome).


Improvise while playing cymbals! Iím just kidding, donít even worry about doing that until you've played for several years!

Improvising while playing cymbals is the hardest skill, something only the most advanced dancers can do well. It was quite common in the era of Classic American Belly Dance; and one of the ways you develop this skill is just to do it a lot. I credit those hundreds of belly grams for my own skill development at improvising with cymbals. It's also a great way to impress the musicians if you dance to live music.

*You can see that knowing where each and every movement - whether itís an isolation in place or a travel step - goes on the beat is going to make playing cymbals while dancing much easier. If you donít know how to dance on the beat, playing cymbals is going to be pretty hard for you. Finding the beat and being able to count the time (tempo) of music or rhythm is something a teacher can (or should be able to) help you with. If there are no dance teachers around, even a music or drum teacher is better than nothing. A few private lessons that help you understand, find, and count the beat could make all the difference in your dancing. If you need a little coaching, see my online class options.

Do you love learning these Patterns? If you want to follow me through drills using the 2-2-5 pattern, this tutorial on playing 2-2-5 is Part 4 of my Playlist on Learning to Play Finger Cymbals

In the next article, read about how to play finger cymbals with drum patterns.