Here are some beginner-friendly drum fills that anyone can learn. The key is practicing these very slowly until you feel comfortable and relaxed. Then gradually build up the tempo.
A drum fill is a pattern that strays from the main groove of the song, and is typically used to transition from one section to the next. It helps to break up repetition and can be really fun to play!
Some drummers think a fill is the time to play a complex pattern or perform a miniature solo. While this is technically correct, a drum fill is meant to be a transition piece. You use it when you want to move to a different section in the song, such as from a verse to a chorus. Basically, a drum fill should be a deviation from what you’re playing in order to introduce something new to the listener.
You can play a drum fill for as long as you want, but there are three common durations for fills that you’ll hear regularly in rock music: the full bar (the longest), the half bar, and the quarter bar (the shortest). The main goal is to internalize the timing of these fills so you know when to start, and when to stop.
Most drummers will finish the fill with a crash, which marks the end of the transition and starts the next groove with a flourish on beat one.
Practice tip: When going through these fills, try to practice them in phrases. This basically means just play a drum beat, play your fill, then go back to the drum beat. Act as if you were playing it within a song.
Here are 7 easy drum fills for beginner drummers:
This 8th note fill is usually one of the first fills a drummer learns. It can be any length, but often is a full measure starting on the 1.
In this free beginner lesson on rock drum fills, it’s the first example:
Another basic drum fill used in many styles of music is the 8th note build: a crescendo fill that’s usually orchestrated between the snare and floor tom (and sometimes includes the kick drum as well). It’s generally used to build tension into either a higher energy section of a song, or sometimes into a complete stop. It’s example #2 in this lesson on rock drum fills for beginners:
This simple drum fill, used mainly in rock music, is an alternating pattern between the snare and kick drum (with a flam on the snare), and can consist of either 8th or 16th notes.
For a 16th note version that finishes with another classic fill – a simple 16th note flourish on the snare starting on the 4 – see example #3 in this video on how to incorporate the bass drum into fills:
To see how it’s used by Dave Grohl in the intro to the Nirvana song “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, check out this guide to iconic drum fills.
Ready to roll around the kit? You’ve definitely heard this one before. Versatile and adaptable to all styles of music, the traditional 16th note fill forms the basis of many of the drum fills we know and love. It’s example #3 in this video on common rock fills:
This is a classic fill that works across many styles. The mnemonic known among drummers comes from the rhythm made by the syllables: pat-boone-de-bby-boone (or ‘3 AND 4-E-AND’ when counted).
A fill used in countless blues and R&B songs, sometimes even as an intro before any other instrumentation, it’s usually orchestrated between the rack tom, snare drum and floor tom.
Used mostly in rock music, the name is another mnemonic formed by the rhythm of the syllables. The pattern is played as a 16th note triplet followed by an accent on the next 8th note.
Stephen Taylor demonstrates all three of these fills in this video:
Have you learned all the fills on this page? Are they too easy for you? If so, it’s time to move on to intermediate drum fills!
Looking for more beginner drumming ideas? Check out our mega-guide on how to play drums: it covers everything you need to know about progressing as a beginner, reading music, buying drum equipment and much more.
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