Both Bellydance classes that I teach have been learning to play Finger Cymbals, known as Zills in Turkish or Sagat in Arabic. I am currently working on a Zill Drills teaching resource for my students. This is in addition to the Middle Eastern Rhythms worksheet that we have been going through.
For my students, we discussed Zill Mufflers for practice in class. Here are some links to information on Zill Mufflers, including links to patterns for crotcheted Zill Mufflers.
- “About Zills” on Middle Eastern Dance.Homestead
If you don’t have time to crotchet, for an easy muffling solution, you can use socks on your fingers. If playing for an extended time or if there are people nearby who might not want to hear repetitive zilling, you can mute the top zill by pressing your 2nd and 4th fingers lightly against the metal. This is not a habit for performing though, and is just for some practice. Alternatively, you can angle your top zill so only the edge hits the bottom zill; this is called playing muted. [I am calling the zill on the thumb the bottom zill and the zill on the 3rd finger the top.]
When practising, remember to start slowly and only speed up when you’ve mastered at a slow speed. If you get stuck, either count or say the rhythm aloud. Whenever practising zills, you must move. Practise stepping on each downbeat, travelling, and moving your arms.