It’s well-known that learning a musical instrument can enhance creativity, coordination, and overall happiness. The drums are a popular choice for their rhythmic sound and the tempo they give to group music. But while it might be nice to be able to play like Keith Moon from The Who right away, you’re going to need to practice first in order to learn how to play the drums that well!
If you are just beginning, one of the best ways to establish a foundation is to learn songs that are good for practicing beginner drum techniques. Before you start playing, take a look at these four easy drum songs. Learning these will help you master some rudiments and get used to song structure.
1. “Run to the Hills” – Iron Maiden
The speed of Clive Burr’s epic drums might make you think that this is a hard song to learn. However, while learning to play as fast as the great Clive Burr can take time, “Run to the Hills” is quite simple to play because it features the rudiment that every beginner should first learn: the single stroke roll. To play this sticking pattern, alternate strokes between the left and right drumsticks. Start out slowly, then go faster once you start to get the hang of it.
Use a metronome to help with your tempo. Relax your shoulders and wrists. Learning this is fun, because you’ll sweat as you try to speed up and perfect your single stroke roll.
2. “Beverly Hills” – Weezer
Weezer’s “Beverly Hills” features simple patterns and slow-paced drumming, making it a great song for new drummers who love alternative rock. This hit from 2005 is a wonderful song for applying another important rudiments, the double stroke roll (especially on the hi-hat for this song), which consists of alternating double strokes with the right and left hand.
While learning this song and, in particular, the double stroke rudiment, start out at a manageable speed, and make sure to watch your stick height. When practicing the double stroke, you may find that having an instructor guide and critique you is the best way to polish your technique and increase your speed.
3. “Teenage Dream” – Katy Perry
The Katy Perry hit “Teenage Dream” is one of the most popular pop songs right now, and the pattern is easy to follow and memorize, which makes it one of the best easy drum songs to learn. This song is great for practicing the flam on the snare drum, which is yet another rudiment to know. It’s used to thicken the notes by adding a grace note. To do this, place one drumstick a few inches higher than the drum and the other one eight to ten inches higher. When you play, these two strokes should be nearly simultaneous. The higher drum stick thickens the note when it hits. Once you can play the drum flam right, you’ll feel like a true pop star as you jam to this song!
4. “Cantaloupe Island” – Herbie Hancock
One of jazz great Herbie Hancock’s all-time best songs, “Cantaloupe Island” maintains a slow and groovy tempo throughout much of the song, which makes it a manageable piece for beginners. Any jazz aficionado knows about Herbie Hancock’s truly exceptional drummer, Tony Williams. If you want to be a jazz drummer and play like Williams, there are few better songs to learn than “Cantaloupe Island”.
With an easy tempo, “Cantaloupe Island” won’t feel like it’s too fast after some practice. This iconic jazz song calls beginners to learn the buzz roll, something that’s very popular in big band and jazz music. This multiple bounce technique (usually three) is great for crescendos and is best played at a smooth, medium-paced tempo. It’s important that the sound stays even between the two drumsticks. While playing buzz rolls, alternate hands after roughly three strokes and keep the drumsticks very low.
Are you ready to pick up the drum sticks now? The key is to first study the rudiments and get a basic grasp of them, as these are the building blocks for playing drums. Once you start getting some rhythm, you’ll be hooked on playing the drums and improving your skills.
Looking for a few more things to play? Check out our ultimate list of drum songs!
Photo by j.sutt