Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Zills Hate Me

Zills, for those of you just joining us, are the little finger cymbals that many belly dancers play. When done really well, they're awesome, like in this video. But when they're not done well.... let's just say there's a reason why there's no video of me playing the zills. Like any musical instrument, when played poorly they create a really cacophonous sound.

I've at least reached the point where I can play them pretty decently while sitting, standing still, or walking around the house. However, as soon as I start dancing, my fingers get all confused by the motion of my body, and my snappy right-left-right right-left-right turns into something more like right-right-left-rightyright-left-left-aw-crap.

At this point I think it's safe to say that in my future solo career, I will rarely if ever make zills part of my performance. But as part of a class, I have to play them in class, and I might need them for a future recital or student performance. So I soldier on, even though I sound horrible and the elastic is so tight that my fingers turn purple.


  1. Try stretching the elastic out a little with some wooden dowels. I suggest stretching as opposed to re-sewing them because I absolutely hate sewing elastic for zils.

    Also, pay close attention to your hands when you are practicing and again when you are dancing. Are they tense or relaxed?

    You can also mentally substitute "1-2-3" or "doom-tek-doom" for "right-left-right."

    Hope this helps!

  2. Aww! I can't even imagine how hard it would be to dance around *and* play some sort of instrument; no wonder you're having trouble with it. Hopefully you can get it. :)

  3. i don't think i have the ability to concentrate enough to do all you're saying. my attention has to be too many places at once...i'd fall down if i tried.

  4. It's probably easier to learn this stuff from your mom and neighbors, when you're growing up. You get to learn as an adult.

  5. SaraBeth, I find that in this dry weather the elastic actually stretches out pretty quickly, so I don't want to speed it along with dowels! My zills actually used to be just right, then they got too stretched out so I had to resew them (and I hate that, too!) and made them nice and tight.

    I usually think 1-2-3, but I spelled it out as right-left-right for the blog because it gives people a better idea of how I'm messing up :D

    I'll pay more attention to my hands, thanks! I think they're pretty relaxed normally, but my stress over the zills is probably making me tense up.

    Meri and Julie, it's definitely hard to multi-task! When I first started taking classes, I found it almost impossible to sync up my arms and feet. Now that I can do that, I have to add the zills!

    Marilee, that is so true! Belly dance is a language in its way, and languages are easier to learn when you're a child immersed in them :)