I’m with the Band – Part 3


A puppet-sized drum set is a prop that every puppet team should have.  A toy drum set usually fits the bill. One Way Street sells a toy drum set for puppets, but many teams have made their own out of items such as cans or buckets.

There are two main ways a drum set can be used in a puppet stage.  My preferred method is to attach the drum set to a prop table.  This table can screw onto the top of a microphone stand with a handy little item called a flange.  With the drums on a mic stand, we can easily raise and lower them when needed.  If your drums are on a microphone stand, be careful that you don’t raise them up too high.  We don’t want the puppet drummer to tower over all the other puppets, or worse, be hidden behind te drum set.  Many teams make the mistake of trying to raise the large bass drum of the drum set all the way over the curtain.  There is no reason we need to see the whole drum.  You probably only need about half of the bass drum to appear above the curtain.

The other method of mounting the drum set is to attach hooks to the back of the drum set and hang it over the front of the stage curtain.  This will allow the audience to see the whole bass drum but will keep the puppet at a level that is the same as the other puppets in the stage.

For the puppet who is doing the drumming, we will want to attach the drumsticks to his hands.  The sticks could be sewn into the puppet’s hands, or the sticks could be attached to the ends of the rods used to operate the puppet’s hands.  If you attach the sticks to the arm-rods, you will want to attach the rods to the puppet at the palm rather than at the wrist.  The key to creating realistic looking drumming is to not worry about whether or not the drumsticks are actually striking the drums. In fact, it’s probably better if they don’t hit the drums, because we don’t want the extra noise.  If you watch an actual drummer sitting at a drum kit, you’ll notice that their hands often stay hidden.  So we don’t need to see the sticks hit the drums for every beat.  If you watch the way Frank Oz manipulated the drummer Animal from “The Muppet Show,” you’ll notice that you rarely see the puppet’s hands.  But the head and body movements of the character create the illusion that the puppet is hitting the drums.  Still, we do want to see those hands from time to time.  In my opinion, you will get a much greater range of movements if you have one puppeteer operate the head and body of the puppet, while another controls both of the arm-rods.  This will allow the arms to move independently of each other, more like a real drummer would do.

Just like with the horns and guitars, have your puppeteers spend some time watching actual drummers in action and see if they can duplicate some of the moves with their puppets.  Remember, in puppetry we want to create the illusion of life!


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One Response to “I’m with the Band – Part 3”

  1. room design Says:

    Hi, great post you have! I like reading it.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Keep up the good work!

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