Words for Drum Practice

Five hand drums lined up together. One has the shape of a tree on the hide and one is painted with a crane on it. The drumsticks are in front of them.Singing and drumming are good ways to revitalize the language. Singing is good for you! We are working to capture words and sentences that can be used during drum practice. We intend to continue to expand this resource. Aambe anishinaabemaazodaa! Let’s sing in Anishinaabemowin!

A few phrases are marked with * or ** and have corresponding grammar notes at the bottom of the page.

A row of flowers in the Woodland art style by Neebin Southall

Getting Started

Getting Started


nagamowin(an) = song
nagamo = sing
nagamotan = sing something
nagamotamaw = sing to someone


Sing let’s.
Let’s sing.

Aambe anishinaabemaazodaa!
Come on anishinaabe sing let’s!
Come on let’s sing in Anishinaabemowin!

Awenen waa-niigaanimaazod?
Who (fut uncertain)-be lead in sound in singing?
Who wants to start?

Awenen waa-nanaabimaazod?
Who wants to follow in singing?
Who wants to be a repeat singer?

Awenen waa-nanaabimaazoyeg?
Who of you plural wants to follow in singing?
Who of all of you wants to be a repeat singer?

Gigiizhitaa ina?
You (sing) ready?
Are you ready to sing?

Gigiizhitaam ina?
You (plural) ready?
Are yous all ready to sing?

I am ready.

We are ready. (not including the listener)

We are ready. (including the listener)

Aaniin nagamowin daa-nagamotamang?
What song should we all sing?

Gida-nagamotaamin “Nimiigwechwendam”. (or insert name of any song)
We should sing “I Am Thankful”. (or insert name of any song)

Ginagamotamawaanaan [Alphonse].
We are singing for [Alphonse].

Talking About the Drum

Talking about the drum


dewe’igan(ag) = drum (animate)
dewe’iganaatig(oog) = drum stick (animate)
dewe’iganike = to make a drum


Aaniindi gaa-ashi’ag nidewe’igan? (indewe’igan)
Where did I put my drum?

Aaniindi ayaad?
Where is it (something animate)?

Mii omaa ayaa.
So here it (animate) is.

I made my drum.

Diindiisi ogii-gizhenimaan indewe’iganan.*
Bluejay made this drum.

Asiginaak ingii-miizhig indewe’igan.
Blackbird gave me my drum.

Awenen gaa-miizhaad [Jasmine]-an odewe’iganan.
Who gave [Jasmine] her drum?

Aniin gaa-ezhi-wenjibad?
What is the story of your drum?

Talking About the Song

About the song


inawewinens(an) – vocable = non-word musical phrase
gabewewin(an) – verse = phrase
maamawiwewin(an) – chorus = repeat
gizhebaawewin(an) – round = how many times through
chitwaadewege = to make an honor beat


Aaniin gaa-ezhi-onzikaag?
How did it (the song) originate?

Inga-dibaadodaan o’ow/maanda** nagamowin.
I will talk about the song.

Mii onow/nindan** aawanoon inawewinensan.
So these are vocables.

Mii o’ow/maanda** aawan maamawiwewin.
So this is the chorus.

I will make the honor beat.

Grammar Notes

Gi nagamotamaw aanaan
Nagamotamaw – sing to someone
Gi+verb+aanaan = all of us to him/her

*obviative because a third person made a third person

**When saying this, that, these, and those, Western and Eastern speakers have different words. In this case onow and o’ow are Western and nindan and maanda are Eastern.

A row of flowers in the Woodland art style by Neebin Southall

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