How To Play Drums
Thinking about learning how to play drums? Do you have a drum set but don’t know what to do with it besides using it to drive your parents nuts? If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, then this is the right place for you to be. In this video lesson Jared Falk, one of the DrumLessons.com drum instructors, shows you how to set yourself behind a drum set, while teaching you to play your first beat and fill.
The main focus of this lesson is to get you playing for the first time. You won’t need to know how to read sheet music to be able to learn to play the patterns taught in this lesson. Jared explains each of the patterns in a step-by-step approach, so you’ll learn how to play drums in no time. If you’d still like to learn how to read and write sheet music, check the free drum lesson “How To Count Quarter Notes” to get started.
In this video, Jared shows you a very basic approach to holding the drumsticks properly. Nonetheless, we encourage you to check the free drum lesson “How To Hold Your Drumsticks” to learn a lot more about this essential subject.
Basic Drum Patterns
The first pattern we’ll be looking at is the standard 8th note rock drum beat. The first layer of this pattern is taught on the exercise below. The numbers and “&’s” are counts, while the “x’s” are notes played on the closed hi-hat. For each measure you’ll have to play eight 8th notes on the closed hi-hat. Start by counting out loud – 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and – and then play the hi-hats along with your count. Strive for having notes played at a consistent pace and with the same dynamic level, as you loop this exercise over and over again.
In exercise 2 we add the snare drum on beats 2 and 4 of the count. The snare shots are represented by the solid note heads on the middle line of the measure. Play the hi-hat strokes as you count out loud and just add in the snare drum. The strokes on both instruments must line up perfectly when played at the same time. Remember to keep the hi-hat strokes consistent to create a smooth feel.
With the third exercise we add in the bass drum on beats 1 and 3 of the count. For now, we’ll not be worrying about the snare drum. The solid note heads on this exercise are the bass drum strokes. Just like we did in the previous exercise, add the bass drum hits as you play the hi-hat while counting out loud. The strokes on both instruments must line up perfectly when played at the same time. Keep the hi-hat strokes consistent to create a smooth feel.
The idea behind the previous exercises was to have you gain the needed independence and control to play the basic 8th note rock beat. Now that you’ve learned how to play its three layers it’s time to put them all together. The hi-hat is played on all 8th notes, just like we learned on the previous exercises. The snare drum is added on beats 2 and 4 while the bass drum is played on beats 1 and 3. Remember to keep the hi-hat consistent and the snare and bass drum strokes lined up with the ones played on the hi-hat.
If you’re having any issues with this beat, feel free to go back to the previous exercises and work on them for a while. Remember to practice with a metronome. Once you have the independence and timing happening come back to this beat and give it a whirl once again.
The last exercise in this lesson is your first drum fill. A drum fill is a pattern played around the drum set that among other things is used for setting a new section of a song. The beat you just learned is 8th note based while the pattern in this exercise is 16th note based – patterns with notes played on the “e’s” and the “ah’s” of a measure.
The hand with which you strike the hi-hat plays the notes of the fill on the beats (1, 2, 3, 4) and on the “&’s”, while the other hand fills in with the rest of the notes on the “e’s” and “ah’s”. As you transition from the beat to the fill you’ll notice that the hi-hat hand keeps playing the same notes it was playing on the beat. The only difference here is the instruments it hits. So a good way to start practicing this fill is to only play the 8th notes around the snare and toms by playing exactly what you were executing on the hi-hat. As you get comfortable with that transition you can start filling in the notes in between with your snare hand.
Take your time with these exercises, they may be hard to play at first but if you keep at it you’ll have no problems. Once you’ve learned how to play them, we encourage you to apply them to music by heading to the play-along section on DrumLessons.com. This should be your final goal with each pattern you learn how to play with this website. So whenever you learn new patterns, don’t forget to use them with the free play-alongs on DrumLessons.com.
After you’ve learned how to apply these basic pattern to real music with the free play-alongs on DrumLessons.com, its very important for you to learn how to plan your practice routines. Organizing the time you have available for practicing drums will have you working towards your goals in a consistent and balanced way. This will help you make your practice sessions a lot more fun, focused, efficient, and rewarding. Fortunately for you, we have a free practice routine generator for download on DrumLessons.com.
If you’re not interested in using the free practice routine generator, we advise you to at least add some warm-ups and drum rudiments to your practice routines. Warm-ups are a great way of avoiding injuries, and drum rudiments are killer for improving your hand technique and creativity around the drum set.
For warming up your hands properly check the free drum lesson “16th Note Warm-Up“. The free drum lesson “Double Bass Warm-Ups” has very cool exercises for the feet that can be used with either a hi-hat and a bass drum pedal, or two bass drum pedals.
As for drum rudiments, we encourage you to start by practicing and applying to the drum set the most basic and fundamental of drum rudiments. They are the single stroke roll, the double stroke roll, and the flam.
Now that we’ve introduced you to some important aspects of practicing drum set, you can keep learning new drum fills and drum beats by choosing free beginner drum lessons on drum beats or drum fills from any section on the free drum lessons guide. If you’re not sure about what video to watch next, we encourage you to move on to the free drum lesson “Seven Beats Every Drummer Should Know.”