Two Handed Hi-Hat Drum Beats

Easy Drumming That Sounds Hard

The need to play hi-hat patterns with two hands stems from songs where it’s prohibitive to play them with only one hand, due to the fast tempos they are performed at. In this free video drum lesson, Jared Falk takes you through the ins and outs of playing two-handed hi-hat drum beats. He shows you how to get started, shares some important tips on how to play these grooves without hurting yourself, and teaches ten drum beats you can use to start practicing this concept.

The following exercises are all played with a 16th note single stroke roll broken up between the hi-hat and the snare drum. Thus, practicing these drum beats will help you develop your hand technique, especially your ability to play single stroke rolls. Before going through this free drum lesson, be sure to check the free drum lesson “How To Count 16th Notes“. Having a good understanding of 16th notes will help you master this lesson’s content a lot faster.

If you want to delve further into this style of pattern, it’s important that you listen to some of the great drummers that have made this such a popular concept. Ian Paice created one of the most popular examples of two-handed hi-hat drum beats in the intro section for the song “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple. You can find other examples of two-handed hi-hat drum beats in popular songs like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by the band U2, with Larry Mullen, Jr. on drums; “Run to the Hills” by the band Iron Maiden, with Cliff Burr on drums; “Everlong” by the band Foo Fighters, with Dave Grohl as the drummer; “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson, with John “JR” Robinson as the drummer; “Whip It” by Devo and “Good Times” by Chic, with Alan Myers and Tony Thompson on drums, respectively.

Drummers: Ian Paice (Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Gary Moore Band), Larry Mullen Jr. (U2), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Them Crooked Vultures), John “JR” Robinson (Michael Jackson, Michael Buble, Mariah Carey, Eric Clapton, Madonna, Seal), Cliff Burr (Iron Maiden, Trust, Desperado, Elixir), Alan Myers (Devo, Jean Paul Yamamoto, Skyline Electric), Tony Thompson (Chic, Power Station).

Drum Beats

Exercise #1 is a 16th note single stroke roll that’s played exclusively on the hi-hat. This exercise has the purpose of getting you used to playing a consistent sounding single stroke roll on the surface of the hi-hat. This is important because the hi-hat feels quite different from a practice pad or a snare drum. Focus on performing evenly spaced and consistent sounding strokes.

With exercise #2, the 16th note single stroke roll is played between the snare drum and the hi-hat. This exercise is designed to have you practicing the transitions between the hi-hat and the snare drum. Remember that even though one of your hands comes down to the snare drum to play shots on counts 2 and 4, it’s important to keep the strokes evenly spaced.

Keep in mind that if you’re leading these ten drum beats with your left hand – while having the hi-hat on the left side of your body – you’ll have to be very careful not to injure yourself, since you’ll have to move your right arm out of the way of your left hand, as it moves towards the snare drum on counts 2 and 4.

Exercise #3 adds the bass drum to counts 1 and 3 of exercise #2. Make sure you play unison strokes between your leading hand and your leading foot on those counts. If you have to, practice this exercise at a very slow tempo, so you’re sure you’re not playing flams between hand and foot.

Exercise #4 is a small variation of exercise #3. This groove will further challenge your independence. To the bass drum strokes of the previous drum beat, we add two more to the “ah” of counts 1 and 3. Avoid flamming the unison figures. Practice very slowly at first, and make sure you learn the stroke sequence without a metronome first. Add the metronome in when you have the pattern under control.

Exercise #5 further challenges your bass drum independence. Just like with the previous drum beats, the bass drum is played on counts 1 and 3. What’s new here are the bass drum strokes on the “and” of counts 1 and 3, and on the “ah” of count 3. This means you’ll be playing a double stroke on count 3. This increases the challenge of playing unison figures between the hands and bass drum foot. As you get to higher speeds, it will become increasingly harder to play a fast and consistent sounding double stroke. To help you out with this, we encourage you to learn how to play the slide technique or how to play the heel-toe technique.

Now that you’ve freed you bass drum foot with the previous drum beats, it’s time to work on snare drum independence. This is where exercise #6 comes in. Since this drum beat has a harder hand pattern for you to play, the bass drum pattern is simpler. In addition to the snare shots of counts 2 and 4, there are two new ones on the “ah” of those counts. These strokes are played with the non-leading hand. Since you’re not used to this, you may find yourself struggling a bit. To work around this, learn the stroke sequence at a slow tempo.

The snare pattern of exercise #7 is based on the snare pattern of a very popular 8th note drum beat. This drum beat is also a mixture of exercises you have already learned how to play with this free drum lesson. Count 1 is the same as count 1 of exercise #4. Count 2 has the hi-hat/snare drum combination of exercise #6, and count 4 is a pattern that can actually be found throughout the various exercises from this lesson. You can keep your non-leading hand on the snare drum once you’ve played the “ah” of count 2. This will make it a lot easier for you to play the snare shot on the “e” of the following count.

Exercise #8 is a very cool sounding one. For the first time in this free drum lesson, you’ll not be playing the snare drum on count 2. Instead, that snare shot is moved to the “ah” of count 1. Since you’re used to playing the snare drum on count 2, it may take a little while to get used to playing it a 16th note earlier. So take your time with this two-handed hi-hat drum beat and be sure to practice it slowly.

The 9th two-handed hi-hat drum beat can bring about some issues between the consecutive snare shots and the syncopated bass drum pattern. Learn the sequence very slowly at first, just to make sure your progress doesn’t get hindered by advancing too fast and too soon. As with exercise #5, the higher the speed, the harder it will be to play the bass drum double stroke between counts 2 and 3. To help you out with this, we encourage you to learn how to play the slide technique or how to play the heel-toe technique.

Exercise #10 is a very cool sounding one. The bass drum is played on all quarter notes while the hands keep a 16th note single stroke roll going between the hats and the snare. The cool thing here is that the snare pattern is actually based on the 2:3 bossa nova clave. This comes to show how learning new styles of drumming can have a positive influence over your creativity within rock music.

Once you’re done with this free drum lesson, we encourage you to keep exploring new avenues with your drumming by going through the free drum lesson “Half-Time Drum Beats“. If you’d like to try something a little more challenging, we encourage you to learn how to play in an odd-time signature. Check the free drum lesson “How To Count 5/4 Odd-Time” to get started.




  • Jyothi Warrier says:


    The above lessons were really nice,
    it shall be of great help if you could post some simple dotted 8 note lessons

  • Alexander says:

    SylvieI’ve never read a more grabbing story. I am rnjoicieg with you my sister in Christ! Isn’t it amazing? When we die to self, we live in Christ. When we give all we have, He gives us all we need and more! When we serve others, we ourselves get served. When we trust in a Savior we’ve never seen physically, He gives us a peace for all the world to see and joy unlike any other.There simply isn’t more to say other than wow! Thank you for being a person willing to follow the Lord.CJ

  • Emanuel Pagán says:

    Hi Jared, I want to know which of the beats you played in this video is the one of the song This is the day (chorus part) from planetshakers?

  • becky says:

    do you think im going to be able to use trash cans and things like that or pencils and binders so i can practice during school because right now i dont have drums, but i have the passion

  • GW says:

    #7 sounds like the beat from “good life” by onerepublic.

    • Daniel says:

      Easy!Transpose. The piano right hand is in Treble clef and the trombone is in Bass clef and the sax maybe in the Tenor.As you know bass clef (The bass uses this) slmpiy take the treble clef melody and put it into the trombone part. The trombone is a C instrument and so no extra conversion is required.For Saxophone hopefully someone else could help you or if you have Sibelius then you could copy the melody along to the Sax part and click the icon up the top which has two flats on a stave. This should transpose it.

  • Amr says:

    hey jared,
    thanks alot for the great lessons.
    Can you please make lessons about the REGGAE drumming, also if u can show us some BLUES beats and explain the “12 bar” thing that i really cant understand.
    Again, thank you all very much 😉

  • hohang says:

    Thanks Jared, for putting together such a great site,the free lessons, the system package (witch I’m waiting for delivery),the friendly approach and the clear explanations makes it great,& respect for your choice of collaborators,just love Lionel& Mike, they make you realy feel as iff you’re in the room with them & allways smiling. I’m a Canadien that live today in the Île de la Réunion .Many thanks

  • kris irie says:

    coolest thing ever

  • greg etim says:

    i have been using two hands on the hi-hat and thought it was weird since most of those i see use one hand on the hi-hat but from this lesson, i now now that it’s great to be able to do this.i really enjoyed this lesson, i played it over and over and over and over and over and over…(i’m out of breadth)… and over again.
    You guys are the bomb.

    • Ana says:

      Say I am using Recorder Man technique as my oherveads, they are obviously going to pick up the snare as well. Do you recommend still soloing the snare to dial in eq and compression or to only dial them in with oherveads active? I understand for video-sake that you solo the snare track, but in real life would you keep your oherveads up in the mix so that you would eq and compress with the end sound in mind? I guess all the other drum mics will get snare bleed as well

  • Oleksandr says:

    Useful lesson! Thank you!

    • Teknisi says:

      ma egko nten echo stock karntia mou…lathos atrhnwpo rwtas btw – i’m the fox-hunting kind of guy. eimai exisou kakos kai sta 2.beltiwnomai omws sto rate sxoliasmou.

  • joseph says:

    I like this lesson !! and i like drums too I wanna realy to know how to play beats ! is any bady can help me plz just do add to<>!!!

  • Brian Hunter says:

    I have just discovered your web site, and think it is very good, My 8 year old son got an electronic kit for exmas, and is keen to really get started, i play a little so will help us both!

    Do you have any tips for him?????

    • Frank says:

      Hey Brian, the lessons on this site, along with the lessons on http://www.FreeDrumLessons.com will give you a great start. Just remember to take it slow 🙂 This is where I started and it has really helped.

      I also picked up a copy of the Drumming System and have almost made it half way through. It’s a great pack for beginners to get a good grasp on all the fundamentals and I would endorse it fully. Obviously the lessons on the DVD are a step up from the free ones here. http://www.DrummingSystem.com

      Best of luck with your learning and have fun!

    • larry says:

      Music affects us of all ages since, as an aesthetic,
      it harmonizes with the beauty of the soul.
      As we live and breath and walk, there exists
      a natural rhythm. This internalized, when
      expressed outwardly, is like the freedom
      of the bird riding on currents of invisible
      air. Keep it simple. Teach by example.
      Play and practice to music. Love and enjoy.

  • Tiago says:

    So cool ideas, i think when we practrice 3 strokes on HH and 1 on the snare we start get confiance and we gonna take more strokes on snara more easy, just repeat it many times and i’m sure all of us can do thath

    Thanks Jared and the time, I love the new sit and the new videos..

  • larry says:

    This, like many lessons, are very good. The intermediate player should have little difficulty as a lesson. However, I have not incorporated these into my regular playing. Now, I realize where work is needed.
    The purpose then would be to apply what we already know into the music.
    In this way, we may not be great but we would have our chops down and we would be good drummers. And, in my opinion, the really good drummers shot-off from this point.

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