Drum Teachers Blog

Start to beat! - Essential Drum Beats for Beginners

Every time that you are listening to some piece of music you are hearing the melody that is floating in the rhythm in certain tempo. In the modern music most of the rhythm sounds – beats are coming from the drums. The drummer is the one who is putting the whole band in time, that is responsible to be correct when everyone is falling apart, and last but not the least the one who adds the groove, the most important aspect to the notable bands. But, not to be scared, we are here to define the essentials and to get to start in order to achieve the notable level of drumming. 
Two main terms every drummer should know are rhythm and tempo. The rhythm is defined as a strong, regular repeated pattern of movement or sound, and the tempo we define as the speed (beat per minute) at which a passage of music is or should be played. So the key two syntagm are  repeated pattern and beat per minute (bpm) This text will guide you through the basic repeated patterns – essential drum beats to the beginners, and you should pick your own tempo for practice, listen to the songs and try to get into them.

Listed above you could see how the various parts of the drum system are presented in the notation partiture.

For the beginning lesson we’ll simplify the beats on the usage of closed hi-hat , snare and acoustic bass (kick) drum. By learning this it will help you to get familiar with the parts of your drum and how to read the partitures.

Basic Rock Beat – On Beat – 4/4 Time signature rhythm

This is one of the most usage beats, that you’ll hear almost in every classic rock and roll song. The BPM – tempo varies between 80-160 (the best is if you practice with metronome – simply set it up to certain BPM, this would help you to stay in right tempo all the time and to be in the right timing – sometimes the people say that the metronome is for the lame drummers, but it would help you to stay in time and to achieve the feeling of correct BPM in certain time). The time signature is defined as 4/4 which means that there are four beats in the one rhythmic structure.

Start with beating 4 notes in the row with kick drum in tempo of 80 bpm and repeat in your head 1,2,3,4. This will give you the felling of 4/4 time signature rhythm, and of 4 notes in the bar. After this we shall go to something more advance, but as easy as these four notes. We are bringing together snare and high hat along with the kick drum.

To easy a things a bit we’ll translate this partiture in the words. Firstly setup your metronome to the certain tempo and count 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4, ect.. The kick drum and the snare are presented as ¼ notes, and the high hat is presented as 1/8 which is the half of the ¼ note. So we are playing 8 high hat notes, with two kick drum and two snare notes. Try to play this phrase in different tempo, and different loudness (from quiet to loud).

  • Song examples Basic Rock Beat – On Beat - 4/4:
  • Queen – Who wants to live forever
  • The Beatles – Lucy in the sky with Dimond – Chorus
  • Bon Jovi – It’s My Life
  • When the saints go marching in

Waltz – 3/4 Time signature rhythm

Just imagine the waltz. How is it danced? You have to count to three in your head and two move in the structure of three steps with someone in your hands. Waltz beat is closed in so called ternary rhythm, and it is played in the ¾ time signature. That means that there are three beats in the time structure of four.  You could count in your head the following: one, two, three…

In this beat structure for the beginning we would play the six times of closed high hat, while playing one beat of the kick drum (with your leg) and two beats of snare. It would sound like PAM pam pam; PAM pam pam; PAM pam pam.

Song examples Waltz – ¾ Time signature:

  • Beatles -  Norwegian wood
  • Neil Young – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
  • Metallica – Nothing Else Matters

Jazz beat – time signature – 6/8 time signature rhythm

This is the most advance beat for the beginning, but think of it as the challenge, as a step further to the achievement of you as a good drummer. In 6/8 time signature rhythm we have to count six eight notes in the bar. Count ONE – two – thee – FOUR – five - six, etc.

As indicated above, play the six notes with high hat, 1/4 with addition of 1/8 of kick drum (so it last longer then 1/4 and shorter than 1/2) and the same for the snare. And now repeat, as much as you can, by counting as indicated above.

Song examples Jazz Beat – 6/8 Time signature:

  • Simon& Garfunkel  - Old Friends
  • Queen - We Are the Champions
  • Journey - Lights
  • Bee Gees, Al Green - (How Can You Mend) A Broken Heart
  • The Beatles - Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)


Having in mind that you are starting to play, and trying to figure out the basic beats, you need to focus yourself on the building practice routines, even if you are in your room with two pencils without the drum try to concentrate and to thing of the groove of the songs. Sometimes, the good practice is to listen to the song and try to figure out in which rhythm and time signature the song is. Think of it seriously while you are listening to the music you love and this will get you to the advancement in your playing techniques. Also the good thing is to find the suitable metronome, for the beginning there is the google free metronome online, so setup the tempo and start making the groove!

About author:

Paul Mills is one of the most creative mixers with instinct and prowess. His project Beatsbooster is the ultimate guide for everyone buying their first headphones or earbuds on every budget and for any purpose

By Julian Marsden
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Welcome to our latest UK Drum Teacher: www.mikeglozier.com/lessons

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Voice of drums; A morning of music and narrative in the South West with Terl Bryant, hosted by Tim Bruce from Restoration Blueprint and Adam Brooks from St Andrews Church, Collumpton.

For all wroshipers (not just drummers!)

Terl has over 150 album credits and combined sales of more than 15 million. With a successful touring and recording career Terl Bryant works with a diverse range of well-known International artists.

John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin (album and tours), Peter Murphy (3 albums, Billboard No. 1 ‘Cuts You Up’) Peter Gabriel (studio tracks), Faith Hill (Europe TV dates), Steve Levine (UK hits with Honeyz, Louise, 911, King's Singers), Elizabeth McGovern of Downton Abbey fame (tours, TV dates, 3 albums), Iona (5 albums), Babara Dickson (2 albums, tours), The Bad Shepherds (tours), Northern Sinfonia tours), Steve Taylor (album, tours) and many others.

Also well known throughout the Christian music scene, Terl plays and records with acclaimed UK songwriter Graham Kendrick. Other CCM artists he has worked with include Matt Redman (‘Heart of Worship’ - Grammy Winner), Martin Smith (Delirious), Robin Mark (‘Days of Elijah’) and Eden’s Bridge (EMI - Celtic series) to name a few.

His own work includes the book ‘ A Heart to Drum ’ (2004) and 6 recorded albums (1995-2013).

He is the founder of the drummer’s network Psalm Drummers (www.psalmdrummers.org). And since 1995 has led drum teams on events throughout Eastern Europe, Africa, India and USA.

Other credits include the Guinness World Record for longest ever drum roll (with Ed Freitas, Calum Rees and Liam Watts in 2005) and the UK WFD Fastest Drummer award (2006), which he performed live on BBC TV. He also has many commercial credits playing and co-writing for Audio Network, BBC, Channel 4 and ITV .

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By Julian Marsden
Posted on 5th Mar, 10:55am

Drummers - Educators



Has developed efficient practice routines and sees results immediately

Developed his own vocabulary to work in all styles

Is able to flow around the drums with great speed, precision and groove




By Julian Marsden
Posted on 1st Mar, 8:58pm