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What are drum fills? How can they be used in a musical context? In this free video drum lesson, Jared Falk answers these questions and teaches five beginner drum fills. They are broken down slowly, so you can see exactly how to play them and how they sound. As an added bonus, each drum fill is demonstrated in a musical context. This free drum lesson includes two versions of the track Jared plays along to in the video – one with the drum tracks removed and an alternate version with a metronome added in. Use them for practicing these or any other drum fills you’d like.
Any pattern played on a drum set or on a practice pad is nothing more than a sequence of strokes. So start by learning the stroke sequence. Once you’re comfortable with it, play it to a click track. This will help you line up the strokes perfectly. Then, you can start playing it in a beat-fill-beat combination. Use the beat provided in the sheet music for each one of the exercises. Once you’re comfortable with it, use any other drum beat you’d like instead.
Exercise #1 is a basic 8th note drum fill played around the drums. Remember to start out slowly when you get to practice this stock drum fill with a metronome. Increase the tempo of the metronome once you feel comfortable with the the speed at what you were practicing this drum fill. You can crash on one of your cymbals on count 1, right after you’re done playing the drum fill. This is a very common procedure for signaling the start of a new phrase or section. If you want to learn how to play more 8th note drum fills, check the free drum lesson “Eighth Note Drum Fills”
With exercise #2, you’ll play four notes per drum instead of the two of the previous one. This means that this drum fill is two-times faster, so it’s really important to start out slowly. Rushing the learning process will only hinder you. Speed comes with control and relaxation, so take your time. Also, focus on hitting the center of each drum to produce a consistent sounding tone.
By relaxing your grip, you’ll get a richer tone out of your drums, your skins will last longer and you’ll decrease the chances of developing repetitive strain injuries. If you want to know more about correct stick grip, check the free drum lesson “How To Hold Your Drumsticks“.
Drum fill #3 is a variation of the previous one. Instead of playing four strokes per drum, you’ll have to split them up between different drums in groups of two. The biggest challenges you’ll find here are transitioning between the floor tom and snare drum on count 4 – if you play right hand lead – and between the snare drum and floor tom on count 3 – if you play left hand lead. This is so, because your leading hand will have to crossover the other hand. This can lead to stick clicks and drops, or even worse, to hitting your own hand.
Exercise #4 is a bit more challenging than the previous ones. It’s a 16th note broken up pattern where we can see the bass drum being incorporated into a drum fill for the very first time. The coordination required to play this drum fill is a lot more demanding. Start out slowly and take your time while perfecting the timing needed to transition effortlessly between hands and foot. If you’d like to learn how to play more 16th note broken drum fills and drum fills that incorporate the bass drum, check the free drum lessons “Beginner Broken 16th Note Drum Fills” and “Beginner 16th Note Linear Drum Fills“, respectively.
This pattern is a good reminder of how creative you can be when coming up with your own drum fills. Any instrument on your drum set can be used in a drum fill. When you’ve mastered this drum fill as written, use your left foot on the hi-hat pedal instead of on the bass drum pedal. This is an added challenge that will increase your left foot control and coordination.
Exercise #5 is another 16th note drum fill. This one is a little awkward to play at first, because of the syncopated tom strokes played with the weaker hand on counts 2 and 3. The secret behind mastering this drum fill is to learn it slowly at first, so you can get comfortable with the sticking pattern.
As soon as you feel you have mastered these drum fills, you can either mix and match them to create totally different patterns, or check the free drum lesson “Quarter Note Drum Fills” next. Remember to stay positive, creative, and have a lot of fun.
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