Performing With The Cajón

By: Kelsie Burt

The Cajón is an instrument that’s not a common instrument that people know about. It is a percussive instrument that doesn’t involve any other objects, just an able body. It’s small, but it can produce a big sound, like other percussive instruments. The Cajón or sometimes called Drum Box has been around for many years, but still, many people don’t know what it is. The Drum Box is very maintainable and portable, but can be somewhat challenging to play. I believe that anyone can play this percussive instrument, and that the only tools needed to play it are rhythm, understanding of musical dynamics, and being able to stay on tempo.  

I do play the Drum Box, I taught myself how to play it, and for me, it was not that hard to get used to playing it. When I started playing it, it felt so natural to play, and now I never want to stop playing Drum Box.

 The Cajón is a supportive instrument, and is an instrument that follows  the direction of other instruments that lead most of the time, but I think it is an instrument that can lead as well. It has a wide range of sound and is very versatile in where it can be played and what genres it can be played in. I play the Cajón mostly at church, worship gatherings, and at other smaller venues, but it can be played in big arenas in front of thousands of people with bands that consist of many players. 

(Video link above shows Cajón playing in smaller venue)

(Video link above that shows Cajon playing in a arena) 

When playing/performing with the Cajón, you should not think too much because when you start to overthink that’s when you start to mess up. You need to know that playing the Cajón is more than just hitting a box, it is creating music with different sounds, rhythms, and dynamics. Being able to improvise is a good tool to have when playing the Cajón because sometimes there will be situations when the lead player/singer will start to sing a song that the rest of the band does not know, and has not been rehearsed; but the lead person wants you to play during the song, so you have to be ready for anything, and when in this situation start with a simple rhythm. When performing with the Cajón, have confidence, don’t be afraid to hit it, it won’t hurt. 

 When making rhythms with the  Drum Box, the player should involve their own personality, and  that should be expressed when playing it. The Drum Box adds so much detail to a song without complicating things and making the song into a different song. When playing this instrument, watch for the tempo and rhythms in the songs. The tempo will stay the same most of the time, but the rhythms will change to add some contrast. When performing with the Drum Box, some people might pay attention, some may not. The people paying attention will be listening, especially to an instrument that is not really common to them. People want to be entertained and wowed, and the Drum Box can do that. 

The Cajón has the feeling and the sound of a heartbeat and keeps the performance alive, but if the Cajon does not stay strong and is not heard then the song dies as well as the performance.

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