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How To Play The Drums (first lesson)

So, you decided that you want to learn how to play the drums, but you don't exactly know where to start. Well, you've come to the right place. This drum lesson is designed to teach you the complete basics of playing the drums!

We're going to start from the very beginning - although it may be worth your time to read the drum lessons on understanding time and reading sheet music. That said, this lesson should still cover all the basics you need to play your first few drum beats!

Your First Drum Beat

Let's get starting by learning the most basic beat. As simple as this groove is - it is still popular in todays rock music. More importantly, it is the foundation of many rock beats you will be learning over the coming weeks and months.

beginner beat

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This beat really only uses three moving limbs. Your left foot rests on the hi-hat pedal keeping it closed, but doesn't have to play anything else. The structure is built around the four hi-hat strokes with your lead hand (right hand if right handed, left hand if left handed).

Start by just playing the hi-hat part of the beat with your lead hand. Count out loud as you play - one, two, three, four. Start out slow, and add the kick drum on the one and three counts. Play this for a while until it feels comfortable.

Then, remove the kick drum and just play the hi-hats again. Add in the snare drum on beats two and four, and keep this steady for a while. Really focus on keeping the four hi-hat strokes steady and even.

When you feel you are ready - add in all elements. Remember to KEEP COUNTING out loud. This is very important, as it will help you keep track of where you are in the beat, and will assist in keeping time.

Drum Beat Variation #1

Here is a simple variation on the first beat. All that is changing is that the bass drum is being played on all four counts with the hi-hats. This is a great way to start developing limb independence.

If you are having any difficulty - just start out with the hi-hats and add one element at a time until you can play it consistently and a steady pace.

beginner beat 1

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Once you can play this groove with confidence - try playing the original beat and then change to this beat without stopping. Continue counting out loud, and make a smooth transition from beat to beat.

You can play the first one four times and then play this four times, or just switch off after one through each beat. You make the call. Mix it up and just have fun!

Drum Beat Variation #2

When you are ready to move on to the next challenge - you can try this next beat. It is very similar to the original beat, but moves the pattern a quarter of a beat. In other words, instead of counting the the snare on two and four, you now count the bass drum on those counts.

The beat will sound identical, but the counting changes how it relates to each measure, and in turn, how it will relate to a band or playalong.

beginner beat 2

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Once you are able to count this out loud as you play it - go back and try playing it in transition with the other patterns you've learned. Develop the ability to move from beat to beat while playing steady and continous quarter notes on the hi-hats.

When you are ready for more drum lessons - check out the beginner drum beats page or read the article on how to play drums on the HowToPlayDrums.com website.

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