Someone once said to me that she didn't get on with metal singing bowls as they didn't sing for her. We were absorbed with crystals at the time, so I didn't explore this with her then. However I added some thoughts to Facebook later and, from the comments, a few people found them helpful – so I thought this was worth repeating here.
Firstly many or most seven metal singing bowls are hand beaten and very individual and not everyone will play perfectly for every person. A bowl that one person gets a beautiful notes from remains quiet for another – whilst another bowl will sing its heart out. That is why its best, if you can, to try your bowl out before you buy if you can to make sure that it is ‘your bowl’.
That said, it may be you! - Bowls play better if you are feeling relaxed and confident - so don’t try too hard to get them singing. Make sure your hand is flat - if you cup your fingers round the bowl you deaden the sound. Also play with the stick slowly and firmly - too fast or lightly and the results won’t be as good. It takes practice so relax, take a deep breath and then try again.
It may not be you! There are different types of sticks - those for striking the bowl and those for rubbing (singing). If you have a striker it will be difficult to make the bowl sing. On the flip side a striker makes a better sound for striking the bowl that a rubbing stick. (Some sticks will do a good job of both). But the stick needs to be chosen for the job as well as the bowl. Different woods, and felts / wool coverings make a difference.
(In the picture the two sticks on the left are felt rubbing (singing) sticks and the one on the right is a wool striking stick.)
A wool covering strikes well but won’t sing. If you are not sure if it is wool or not – try ‘singing’ the bowl with the wood end. If this is easy to do, but the fabric end achieves nothing then this could well be wool. Try then striking the bowl. If this sounds good then this probably confirms it. If you are happy with the wood for singing and wool for striking combination then the bowl and stick are fine.
If playing a bowl with a plain (no fabric) wooden stick (or the wood end of a part fabric covered one) produces a slightly grating sound as it vibrates then you would probably benefit from a part suede covered stick with smooths out the grating sound.
Consider also the size of the stick – often a standard thinner stick is supplied. For a larger bowl a larger stick might work better, so try a few different sticks if you can.
If you are happy with plain wood sticks then the wood makes a difference. All the plain wood ones I have come across for sale so far have worked. When I bought my first bowl I was advised that I could ‘make my own' from thick, rounded wood from a hardware shop. I tried it and it didn’t work at all! If you have access to different woods to try great! Try different woods until you find one that works, but I suggest don’t go for a weak pine thick doweling type of wood as you may be disappointed.
If you are thinking of buying a bowl I have a limited supply bowls and sticks with them that work - and can also take you through using the right one/s and help you get your bowl singing. (Sadly post Brexit I have lost my previously brilliant overseas supplier of these - as well as crystal bowls, some of my special pendulums and incense. I am looking for a new supplier but until then its just the stock I have left – which is all shown on my website shop. This also means that I am not currently running my half day Getting Started with You Singing Bowl' workshop due to low stock.)