Learning Guide

We’ve developed this learning guide so that you have a solid plan to start working your way through the material on OnlineDrummer.com. The guide includes the foundational drumming concepts that every drummer needs to master. We’ve linked to key lessons that will introduce you to the concepts and offer you valuable practice materials. All of the lessons and materials linked to in this guide are freely accessible on OnlineDrummer.com. Happy drumming!

NOTE: If you’re interested in a more in-depth study of reading music, visit our Learning To Read Series. Working through both the Learning To Read Series along with the drum set Learning Guide outline below will give you a more holistic understanding of playing the drums.

Getting Started

Before you begin, it’s important to understand the basics of setting up the drums, posture and best-practices for successful playing. The first part of this lesson guide covers these important topics to ensure you get started in the right direction.

1. Hearing Protection

2. Tuning (scroll down to the “tune like the pros” section)

3. Setting Up and Positioning Best Practices:

Drum Throne & Posture

Snare Drum Positioning

Tom Positioning

Bass Drum & Hi-Hat Setup

Snare, Hi-hat & Bass Drum Positioning

4. Metronome Training Lesson 1

Reading & Playing 8th Note Drum Beats

The first beats you’ll learn to play use an 8th note ostinato (i.e. repeating pattern) on the cymbal, while all of the other strokes fall in-line with one or more of these cymbal strokes. Though these grooves are basic, many chart-topping songs have used (and continue to use) the 8th beat technique.

5. Five Foundational Techniques For Rock Drumming – Lesson 1 (8th Beat Technique)

6. Drum Beats to Practice: Drum Set Time PDF

7. More Drum Beats to Practice: Drum Set Time 2 PDF

8. Eighth Note Drum Beats Examples From Songs:

Get Back – Demi Lovato

Clint Eastwood – Gorillaz

Life In Technicolor II – Coldplay

Ten Years Gone – Led Zeppelin

9. Five Foundational Techniques For Rock Drumming- Lesson 2 (Snare Movement)

10. Eighth Note Drum Beats with Snare Movement Examples From Songs:

Beast of Burden – The Rolling Stones

Zombie – Cranberries

12:51 – The Strokes

Original Prankster – The Offspring

Basic Drum Fills

Most songs include some type of drum fill. A drum fill is often used to transition between parts of a song (i.e. intro, verse, chorus, etc.). The following lessons introduce you to some drum fills and give you practice templates to work on creating your own drum fills.

11. 8th Note Drum Grooves & Beginner Fills

12. Beginner Drum Fill Concepts

13. Syncopated Drum Fill Pattern

14. Creating Your Own Drum Fills

15. Cool Four Bar Loops

16. Crashes in Your Fills

17. Taking Your Fills To The Next Measure

18. Drum Fills From Rebel Yell – Billy Idol

19. Improvising Drum Fills

20. Improvising Drum Fills 2

Reading & Playing Rolls In Your Grooves

Drum rolls can bring a lot of interest to your drum beats and fills. Getting started early with drum rolls will give you the time to perfect them as you work through the rest of the lessons in this guide. Practice your rolls daily to gradually develop your technique.

21. Basics of Reading & Playing 5-Stroke Rolls

22. Basics of Reading & Playing 9-Stroke Rolls

23. Drum Roll Please – 5-Stroke & 9-stroke Rolls

Reading & Playing 16th Notes in Drum Beats

The next step is to learn to play sixteenth notes in your drum beats. This involves playing snare strokes or bass strokes that fall in-between the 8th note cymbal strokes. Adding sixteenth notes to your grooves greatly increases the potential of your grooves.

24. Five Foundational Techniques For Rock Drumming – Lesson 3 (Sixteenth-note Bass Drum Phrasing)

25. Single Bass Pedal Exercises (16th Note Phrasing)

26. Sixteenth-Note Phrasing 1

27. Four Classic Drum Beats (with 16th phrasing on bass)

28. Sixteenth-Note Bass Phrasing Examples From Songs:

Tattoos & Tequilla – Vince Neil

Heartbreaker – Led Zeppelin

Over The Hills and Far Away – Led Zeppelin

29. Five Foundational Techniques For Rock Drumming – Lesson 4 (Sixteenth-note Snare & Bass Phrasing)

30. Sixteenth Note Phrasing 2

31. Skeleton Fills (with Sixteenth Note Snare & Bass Phrasing)

32. Drum Fills with Sixteenth Note Snare & Bass Phrasing

33. Sixteenth-Note Snare & Bass Phrasing Examples From Songs:

Shimmer – Fuel

Soul To Squeeze – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Be Like That – 3 Doors Down

Self Esteem – Offspring

Embellishing Drum Beats

Changing the dynamics (how loudly or softly you play) and adding the open hi-hat technique are two great ways to bring your grooves to life. In fact, embellishing a groove can really bring a groove to life, often times giving your groove a completely different feel. Learning to control these embellishments will give you the ability to create the appropriate feel for every groove you play.

34. Five Foundational Techniques of Rock Drumming – Lesson 5 (Embellishing)

35. Five Chart-Topping Drum Beats with Embellishing

36. Ghost Strokes

37. Snare Drum Accents and Expanding Them Around The Kit

38. Open Hi-Hat Layering

39. Subtle Hi-Hat Dynamics

40. Leave It Open – Hi-Hat Techniques

41. Drum Beats with Embellishing Examples From Songs:

Last Dance With Mary Jane – Tom Petty

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynryd Skynryd

It’s Time – Imagine Dragons

These Days – Foo Fighters

Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden

Congratulations for finishing this learning guide! You now have a solid understanding of the basics of playing drum set and will be able to play many of the songs that you encounter. Congratulations again, and keep drumming!

You can explore our song sheet music here.

There are also a number of video lessons teaching parts of songs.