Want to practice your drum skills but not quite sure where to start? Here are some beginner-friendly drum grooves from music teacher Willy M….
When you’re learning to play drums, you may have difficulty alternating between your hands and feet while playing. I have come up with some drum grooves for beginners that will help you develop independence between your hands and feet.
Quarter Note Drive on Kick Drum
To play this groove, count out one, two, three, four on the kick drum, and alternate by hitting either the one and three, or the two and four on the snare. Once you get used to this, switch it up and try it the other way. Once you’ve mastered this, try kicking on the one and three, and snare on the two and four. This is a great way to differentiate your hand and foot movements.
Ride on the Hi-Hat
Start by playing a simple set of eighth notes on the hi-hat with your left hand. Then, combine that with the previous exercise; kick on the one and three, and hit the snare on the two and four while the hi-hat keeps a continual drive over the top.
A lot of students are right handed, so this use of the left hand is often easier for right-handed drummers than playing a more complicated pattern. Lefties seem to grasp this easily, so if you want to make this more difficult, try playing two eighth notes followed by a quarter-note repeating pattern. The hi-hat rhythm becomes one – and – two – three – and – four. This drum groove is simple but satisfying because it feels like you’re playing real music.
Switch it Up
Once you’ve got this down, switch from playing the snare with your right hand, and play it with your left. You can also try switching from playing the ride on the hi-hat, to playing it with your right hand on one of the other cymbals. This causes you to rethink which hand you’re counting the eighth notes on, and you’ll develop the ability to handle new drum grooves.
You may struggle to play all the way through a song as a beginner. If you continue to play the drum groove through an entire song, however, it will help you develop your muscles and you will be able to play for longer periods of time.
When you’re learning to play drums it’s important to be patient and keep practicing. In order to improve, you need to constantly change what your hands and feet do, so you can develop the independence you need as a drummer. Once you’ve mastered the basics, learn to play the drum grooves while alternating between the groove and a fill. If you can learn how to keep the groove going while incorporating different fills, you’ll progress far beyond just learning the groove by itself.
Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston, NC. He has been playing drums since he was in high school, and enjoys playing hand drums and percussion, as well as other ethnic drums. He is the author of the Dead Man’s Tuning series of mandolin songbooks, and is a former member of the American Federation of Musicians. Willy has been teaching for 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to folks in their 80’s. Learn more about Willy.
Photo by Nic McPhee.