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Have you always wanted to learn how to play drums? If your excuses have included “I don’t have time” or “I don’t have a drum set at home”, you’re in luck: this 10-minute video lesson will get you started quicker than you can say “Ringo”.

We’re starting from the beginning. No theory. No technique. By the end of this video, you’ll be able to play a simple beat and drum fill.

Why play drums? Whether you’re doing it for fun, for the health benefits, to pick up a new hobby, or to become a rock star, the instrument is a great outlet for all of these things.
 

How to start playing drums

If you have drumsticks, hold them with a nice relaxed grip. This is the most important thing to know for now. Keep your hands loose!
 

 
If you have access to a drum set, set it up so you can easily reach everything. You shouldn’t have to turn or twice to reach a drum or cymbal – keep it all within close reach. The toms shouldn’t be steeply angled; set them up so they gently slope toward you. Click here to learn how to set up your drums comfortably.

Now, let’s practice counting to eight. Make sure there’s an even amount of space between each count and start at a slow speed. Try tapping it out on your leg as you count out loud: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

 

How to play a drum beat

Put your right foot on the bass drum pedal, and your left foot on the hi-hat pedal. If you don’t have a drum set, sit down in a chair with your feet resting naturally in front of you.

The hi-hat usually sits to your left; it’s the one with two cymbals. Start counting to eight out loud. Use your dominant hand to hit the hi-hat on each of the eight counts. Don’t forget to make sure they’re evenly spaced. Stop the video and practice if you need to. And remember: no death grip on the sticks!

Keep it going, but you’re going to build on this by hitting the snare drum (the one right in front of you) on counts 3 and 7. That means when you say 3 and 7, hit the snare drum. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8.

If it’s easier, do a few rotations (with one ‘rotation’ being an 8-count) just playing the hi-hat. Then, when you’re feeling ready, add in the snare drum on the 3 and 7.

You can do this on your legs, too: use your right leg as the ‘hi-hat’ and the left leg as the ‘snare’.

Next, you’ll add in the bass drum. Stomp the pedal on counts 1 and 5: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8.

To put it all together, do a few rotations of hi-hat only, then a few rotations with hi-hat and snare drum, then add in the bass drum when you’re ready. Keep practicing this until you can play the groove without having to count.

By the end, you’ll be playing a simple rock beat with hi-hat, snare, and bass drum all together. You can play along to AD/DC’s “Back in Black” now!

 

How to play a drum fill

Drum fills are used to build anticipation or release tension. Listen for them in your favorite tunes, such as snare rolls in AC/DC songs, or that big tom fill in “Wipe Out”.

You’ll still be striking something on each of the 8 counts, but instead of doing it with just one hand on the hi-hat, you’ll alternate strokes (right, left) so you play two on the snare, two on the high tom, two on the mid tom, and two on the low tom. That’s two hits on each drum. Cycle back and forth to get comfortable with it.

Stay relaxed, and keep all notes evenly spaced. Many new drummers forget to make it a priority, but it’s so important.

To put the fill into context, play the beat you learned earlier for three rotations (that means counting to 8 three times), then play the fill during the last one rotation (take the hits around the snare and toms). After the fill, go back into the drum beat.

Congratulations – you just learned your first rock beat and your first fill! This is just the beginning; when it comes to beats and fills, the sky’s the limit. At this rate, you’ll be playing all your favorite tunes and jamming in no time.
 

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