3 Ways to Play Complex Drum Patterns (With Audio)

3 Ways to Play Complex Drum Patterns (With Audio)

As you advance in your drum lessons, you will want to take on more complicated drum patterns and grooves. Here, Federal Way, WA drum instructor Kendra M. explains how you can learn to play complex drum patterns…

Complex drum patterns can be intimidating for new drum students. Take this “tricky” groove for example:

Learning Complex Patterns 1

Even though this groove sounds complex, there are actually several ways to break patterns like this one down into manageable parts. Before you know it, you’ll be able to play complex drum patterns with ease!

Using the example above, here are three ways to conquer difficult drum patterns:

Method 1: Simplify Each Line

Take out all of the 16th notes to play a simplified version of the pattern.

complex patterns 2

Then, add the 16th notes in, one limb at a time.

complex patterns 3

Method 2: Create Short Loops

Loop a short section of the pattern while keeping time on the ride cymbal.

Create short Loops

Keep adding a little more of the pattern into the loop.

keep adding

Method 3: Reduce the Number of Parts

Play the parts for only two limbs. For example: the right hand on ride cymbal and the left hand on snare.

reduce number of parts

Then, use a different set of two limbs. For example: the right foot on bass drum and the left hand on snare drum.

complex patterns last

If a groove is too difficult to play all at once, break it up. Keep building the groove from the most basic version you can create, to its complete form, step by step.

The more familiar you become with each element of the groove, the closer you will come to putting it all together. Don’t worry about speed at first; practice each variation at a tempo where you can play it successfully.

Be patient. Think of each challenging groove as a puzzle created for your enjoyment. Then, piece it together and have fun!

Want to improve your drumming skills? Sign up for lessons with a private drum instructor! 

KendraMPost Author: Kendra M.
Kendra M. teaches drum lessons in Federal Way, WA. She has performed with professional orchestras across the United States and earned her Doctorate of Music from the University of Arizona. She is interested in the percussion music of cultures across the globe, and she has spent time studying drums abroad in Trinidad and Ghana! Learn more about Kendra here!


Photo by Kyle Sorkness

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