Performing Arts

Becoming A Drumming Nation



For Yeap Eng Zheong, drums became his passion quite by accident.

A former student of the Chong Hwa Independent High School, he was puzzled as to which co-curriculum activity to chose from the 80 that were available. He chose the activity with the longest title (in Chinese) and it happened to be Drums.

“I was 13 then and  I found that I liked drumming so I continued with it. After I graduated I joined HANDS Percussion part time while working on my family’s business,” said Eng Zheong, who’s been with the group for six years before becoming  a full time drummer.

EngZheongAs part of being a full-timer with the drumming troupe, he teaches drum lovers of a wide age range – students from 9 to 12 and a group from Teochew Association from ages of 30 to 74.

“I enjoy the stage and like to teach my students, irrespective of age. It’s one of the best feelings in the world when you teach them a piece and they play it for you,” revealed Eng Zeong, whose own coach is the group’s Founder and Artistic Director, Bernard Goh.

After using mallets to play the drums, this time around for the upcoming Kaleidoscope 4 –  International Drumming Festival , Eng Zheong has once again come out of his drumming comfort  zone by learning the gendang from his present teacher Mat Din.

“Its fun playing something not using mallets. For the gendang, it’s all about the hands. The challenge comes in the interlocking of rhythms, which is something difficult for us to do. When Mat Din plays a sound, it is specific, and we we try our best to produce the sound, exactly like he does,” revealed Eng Zheong, who’s been learning to play the gendang since four months ago.

Already plays several instruments including the shigu, djembé and gamelan,  Eng Zheong hopes to learn the Cuban, single-headed drum conga soon.

Just like his mentor Bernard, drums is a part of Eng Zheong’s life and his passion for it increases as he continues his journey to learning the essence of drumming through various instruments.

“Things are always changing and changing fast. Every day new things happen and we need to be ready to learn new things and to absorb more,” he added.


HANDS Percussion’s 4th installation of the Kaleidoscope 4 –  International Drumming Festival is a reflection of Bernard Goh’s big dreams of putting Malaysia on the international drumming platform.

His love from drums goes back to his own days under his teacher the  late Tan Hooi Song, who founded the 24 Festive Drumming, based on the number of festivals celebrated annually in China.

Hailing from Seremban, Bernard’s love for drums saw him learning the tabla and rebana when he moved to KL. After establishing HANDS Percussion in 1997, he offered audiences a chance to experience the power of the drums in Drum Slices, which transformed into Kaleidoscope – International Drum Festival.

With the aspiration to make the festival one as popular as Georgetown Festival and The Rainforest World Music Festival, Bernard believes in bringing in international talents who are bound to stir the passions and mind of Malaysian audiences.

This year’s theme Drumming Nation will feature international acts Dafra Drum from the United States of America and Burkina Faso, Gamelan Jing Gong from Indonesia, and Max Riefer from Germany. Malaysian talents at the show will include Kamrul Hussin and Geng Wak Long, Chia Cheng Kok,Tan Su Yin and Temple of Fine Arts.

With two shows on September 10, at 3pm and 8.30pm at Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur, ticket prices are from RM68 to RM228. For enquiries call 03 6141 4480, or visit HANDS’ Facebook Page.



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