You’ve seen the viral videos online. Now you can finally try a hand pan for yourself! I’m teaching private lessons on hand pans. You can use one of my hand pans during your lesson. Then, I’ll give you materials and patterns to practice before your next lesson.
The Hand Pan, also called Hang Drum, Space Pan, or Halo, ( as well as handpan or spaceman) is becoming a very popular instrument. Many builders have wait times of several months or even years. It’s unique sound and relative ease of play makes it a great instrument to make music by yourself or with others.
Every hand pan maker offers several different instruments with a variety of sounds. Most have either 8 or 9 notes and built on a variety of pentatonic scale or hexatonic scales. The pans are designed to sound good but you usually can’t play simple melodies like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Even though you won’t be able to play a lot of typical songs that use a full, major scale all these notes are are designed to sound good together. Pretty much anything you play will sound good.
So, when you are starting out I wouldn’t worry too much about which pattern you’re playing. Work on the technique and learn how to play the pan in general. If you switch to a different layout someday you’ll quickly learn the ins and outs of the new pan.
Hand pan is the best, most widely accepted name. But has there ever been an instrument with more names? Hang drum, hand pan, handspan, halo, Halo drum, space pan, spacepan. I mean, we can’t even agree if spacepan is one or two words! Regardless, the best and most widely accepted name is hand pan.
The same confusion exists around who actually invented the instrument. I’m not going to try to settle this argument here and now. Instead, I’ll just include a few links on the topic:
Over the past few years about 25 people have posted this video to my FaceBook page. With millions of view, it’s the most viral hang drum videos.
Here is Daniel Waples taking hand pan to another level, great coordination.