5 Beginner Drumming Techniques


The drums: a primal instrument with a hypnotic power to captivate audiences and drive the pulse of a song. But for aspiring drummers, navigating the sea of cymbals, snares, and toms can feel daunting. Fear not, budding beatmakers! This guide will equip you with 5 beginner drumming techniques that lay the foundation for rhythmic mastery.

5 Beginner Drumming Techniques

1. Grip and Posture:

The foundation of good drumming starts with a comfortable and efficient grip on your drumsticks. Two popular grips are:

  • Matched Grip: This is the most common grip, with both sticks held similarly between thumb and index finger, allowing for more balanced playing.
  • Traditional Grip: Here, the left hand holds the stick in an open-handed position, offering more power for snare hits.

Experiment with both grips and choose the one that feels most natural. Remember, proper posture is key. Sit upright with your back straight and knees slightly bent for stability and power.

2. Basic Strokes:

Mastering these four fundamental strokes forms the building blocks of drumming:

  • Full Stroke: A powerful downward stroke with the entire arm, hitting the center of the drum or cymbal for a loud, clear sound.
  • Down Stroke: A controlled downward motion with the wrist, ideal for snare hits and creating tighter patterns.
  • Tap: A light stroke using just the fingers for subtle accents or quieter passages.
  • Upstroke: An upward motion with the wrist, primarily used on the hi-hat cymbals for closed or open hi-hat sounds.

Practice these strokes individually on a practice pad or drum kit, focusing on smooth technique and even dynamics (volume control).

3. Single and Double Stroke Rolls:

These techniques create a continuous flow of notes on a drum or cymbal.

  • Single Stroke Roll: Alternate full strokes or down strokes with each hand, creating a steady stream of sound.
  • Double Stroke Roll: Two strokes (typically up and down) played with each hand in rapid succession, producing a faster and more intense roll.

Start slowly, focusing on clean technique and maintaining evenness between your hands. Gradually increase speed as your control improves.

4. Basic Drum Beats:

Now let’s put those strokes together! Here are some essential beginner drum beats:

  • Rock Beat: This classic 4/4 beat involves alternating bass drum (full stroke) on beats 1 and 3, snare drum (down stroke) on beats 2 and 4, and a closed hi-hat (upstroke) on every eighth note.
  • Funk Beat: Similar to the rock beat, but with a ghost note (a very light tap) on the snare drum between beats 2 and 4, creating a more laid-back feel.
  • Swing Beat: This jazzy beat features a triplet feel (three notes per beat), often played with a hi-hat on the first and third eighth notes of each beat, and a snare drum on the second.

Practice these beats with a metronome to develop a strong sense of internal time and groove.

5. The Paradiddle:

This essential rudiment involves alternating single strokes between hands, promoting coordination and independence. Here’s a basic paradiddle variation:

  • Right hand: full stroke on snare (R), tap on hi-hat (L)
  • Left hand: full stroke on snare (L), tap on hi-hat (R)

Practice this pattern slowly, focusing on clean hand transitions and evenness between the strokes. As your comfort level increases, explore different paradiddle variations to build dexterity and create more complex drumming patterns.

Bonus Tip: Practice Makes Progress!

Like any skill, drumming takes dedication and consistent practice. Set aside time each day to work on these techniques, focusing on accuracy, control, and developing your sense of rhythm.

Embrace the journey! There will be frustrations and missed beats, but with perseverance and passion, you’ll soon be laying down infectious grooves and unleashing the rhythm within.

Additional Resources:

  • Online drum lessons and tutorials
  • Check out our resource of Free Drum Tabs and Notation
  • Play-along drum tracks with various styles and tempos
  • Practice with other musicians

Remember, drumming is a journey of self-expression and exploration. Have fun, experiment with different styles, and let your creativity flow through the beat!

Bonus Video:

In this video from Drumeo, Mike Michalkow shows us his 5 crucial beginner drumming techniques. When you are first learning the drums, it is very important to have a solid technique. I good base technique will stay with you as you progress with speed & control.

Video Text:

0:00:00.1 –>
[Music] hey everybody it’s Mike Michalkow, i am the author of the drumming system and today i want to talk about the five most important beginner drumming techniques and this comes from you know brand new students coming in saying where do i start what do i got to do and so let me tell you okay the first thing and believe it or not is the most important part about drumming is how to properly hold the drumstick i’ve mentioned before in some of my other dvds that i held the sticks wrong for about 10 years and i don’t want to see anybody ever do that because doing something wrong for 10 years is just not a good thing so let’s get started right off the bat with how to hold the stick properly so break this down as quick as i can i’m just going to sit on that one okay so the first thing we’re going to do i’m going to put the stick down okay i’m going to take my hand put it out like i’m gonna shake somebody’s hand okay i’m gonna make a gun with it point

0:01:00.7 –>
it at you don’t worry it’s not loaded okay now from my wrist i’m gonna turn it to my left now i’m gonna lay the gun barrel down just above the pad okay now i’m going to take my stick now in the first joint of my finger man i need some hand cream these uh these fingers are pretty dry that’s okay it’s cold outside right now i’m going to bend the barrel of the gun a little bit so i can actually get the drumstick kind of resting in there okay there it is got it okay now what i’m going to do next is i’m going to pull my hand back a little bit towards me and i’m going to push the stick forward so that the tip rests on the practice pad okay now what i want to do next is i want to find the spot of the drumstick called the balance point where the drumstick is going to rebound the best for me notice how i’m just pushing back i’m pushing down on the back of the drumstick here because i’m too far forward it’s not going to happen if i’m way too

0:02:01.4 –>
far back i’m not going to get very much rebound so you find that sweet spot of the drumstick where it wants to rebound for you haven’t found it yet there it is okay it’s a pretty good pretty good spot right around there you’ll know every drumstick has one it just takes a little bit of a few seconds to search for it now i’m going to take my thumb and secure the stick in my hand but i’m not going to push down with the edge of my thumb i’m just going to simply rest my thumb on top above the index finger so now what i want to do is i want to lift my hand up like this okay now i want the back of the stick to hit me in the pad the soft pad of my hand here because that’s also known as the shock absorber okay and the shock absorber is great because when i’m start when i’m starting to hit the drums really hard all the energy and shock that’s going through the stick i don’t want it to hit anywhere else but in the softest part of my hand so that’s a good place for the back of the stick to hit us not here

0:03:00.7 –>
right there okay now what i’m going to do next is take my back fingers and i’m going to gently wrap them around the stick like this i’m not going to clench the stick okay i’m just going to secure the stick in my hand so oddly enough it’s a pretty loose grip but tight enough that the stick’s not going to go flying out of my hands okay so it’s a problem that i haven’t dealt with in a long time since i actually learned how to hold the sticks properly after 10 years of doing it wrong so at this point you know you look around you can see there’s a gap here i want to close off that gap because that’s too tight i want to keep it quite open and relaxed i should be able to actually take a drumstick and shove it right through there if i that’s how i play so that is that’s huge you guys got to know that and if it feels kind of awkward at first it’s okay because the thing is it feels very loose and relaxed in our hand but that is the real secret to great technique is the world’s best drummers know what i’m talking about because you now have the fluidity and the freedom for the stick

0:04:00.1 –>
to do way more work and our hands aren’t doing so much the work the drumstick is doing the work so when i say that i held the stick wrong for 10 years because i was clenching it like a baseball bat or like a golf club i really had to relax it so you can see how the the back of the stick is hitting me in the shock absorber you know the fingers are there if i need them so there’s lots of freedom so that’s a big one how to hold the stick grab the other stick match it up you can go through the whole process again match it up away you go it’s how you hold the stairs [Applause] [Music] [Applause] so now that you know how to hold the sticks the next thing i want to talk about is playing from the wrists and the reason this is so important is i see so many drummers even that have been playing for a few years that are playing like this and i always say it’s like the energizer bunny kind of look and he just it doesn’t work okay because we’re not robots we’re not machines we’re humans we have lots of flexibility in our limbs especially in our arms so i just you

0:05:01.2 –>
know i i try to practice like this just for fun and i can’t i can’t go longer than 15 seconds because that’s just way too much work from the elbow so if i was to play whether it’s my favorite drum beats or drum rudiments or just moving around the set just having some fun i want to play from the wrist because the wrists are the motors of drumming okay and i’m isolating the wrist very little bit of energy is being used so if i’m just going to play single stroke rolls from the wrist imagine doing this like that just is going to get so tiring so quickly so if i’m just playing from the wrists i can be very relaxed let the sticks do the work let the drum head or the pad do the work you know when people say to me man you can go forever you can film dvds you can do recording sessions you can do rehearsals for hours and hours on end and i say you know my body doesn’t get tired if anything i

0:06:00.8 –>
might get mentally tired because you know i’m tired of thinking about stuff but i never get tired from drumming and that’s because of isolating the wrists and just making everything feel very relaxed and doing as least amount of work as possible so playing from the wrist very important you can practice all your rudiments you know your flams singles paradiddles moving around the drum set playing beats play from the wrist guys and all it simply is is just that there’s no other real secret to that learn to play from the wrist even if you play with your thumbnails up fine try to get the wrist moving if you play palms down go from the wrist but try to get away from this if you can [Music] the next thing i want to talk about is something called a medium full stroke roll also known as a half stroke roll for some people the medium full stroke is a 45 degree angle to the drum okay so you’re going

0:07:01.9 –>
to get a medium volume you’re playing not fully up like this and you’re not down close to the pad you’re playing with a 45 degree angle now whether you play with french grip okay whether you play with germanic grip american grip it doesn’t matter traditional grip doesn’t matter but the main thing is to try to keep your stick heights as consistent as possible you know and you can practice a single stroke roll by focusing on the tips of the sticks make sure they’re coming back to you know the same the same point that they left you know you don’t want to do this you know try to keep it really consistent and what i end up doing is i sort of draw an invisible line or if i can reference something on the floor in front of me through my peripheral vision i try to think okay can i keep those on the same keep the tips of the sticks coming back to the same spot that’s good because now i’m able to get

0:08:01.1 –>
you know a roll with more volume [Music] you know it ends up being a really great workout for you guys because you’re bringing the sticks up you know a good 45 degree angle to the drum so practice your medium full stroke rolls you know i said also known as a half stroke roll and you’ll be amazed at how much quicker you can get around the drums with more volume [Music] okay so let’s now talk about rebounding double strokes majority of young drummers and i say young meaning someone who just started playing when we learn the double stroke roll you learn right right left left right right

0:09:00.3 –>
left left but most people even with the wrists can’t even go i practiced that a lot just so i could do rolls on a floor tom but i also play hand percussion which is all wrist so my wrists are pretty developed but if we want to get really really great fast double stroke rolls we have to learn to start rebounding the stick okay so as i mentioned in the section on how to hold the sticks um you want to make sure you’ve got that balance point where the stick is going to rebound for you okay so the biggest thing is when i drop the stick down i don’t want to be too tight because i’m too tight the stick just dies and i don’t want to be too loose because the stick is going to sort of flop around like a fish out of water so i have to learn to control the drumstick so when i do drop the stick it gives me one extra note following

0:10:02 –>
notice that once again can’t be too tight can’t be too loose so you got to find that real nice happy grip i’ll call it the happy grip okay in each hand to learn to start rebounding the stick and don’t be afraid i see people kind of going like try not to play that second note trust your instinct you’ll be amazed it’s like a basketball throw a basketball down and leave your hand flat what happens it bounces again you know you grab the ball it stops don’t grab the ball don’t grab the stick you know just let it bounce let it be natural the way i demonstrate this is look what the stick wants to do i mean it wants to keep going if i’m in that proper balance point it’s going to bounce until it stops if i get it out of there after two and learn to control that in my grip look at my arms one one one one one one

0:11:01.9 –>
but i’m getting two strokes right so i’m thinking right left right left right left but in turn i’m getting double double double double double double double double so it takes a little bit of practice but you’ll be amazed at how quickly this comes i see most of my students get this in about 10 minutes but then the goal is to try to speed it up so once you gain control i’m simply speeding up my wrists a little bit arms not too much it’s going to be real nice for some real nice open rolls so that’s a huge bonus is to be able to rebound that double stroke roll keep in mind this won’t work on loose floor toms or drums that have sort of soggy feeling heads uh that’s a wrist stroke we’ve got to play a wrist rope for anything that’s bouncy like a hi-hat

0:12:00.7 –>
or cymbals snare drums practice pads that is how you rebound the double so now that you have a better understanding of all these techniques we’ve been talking about i want to show you one last great exercise that i like to use for myself and for all my students at home and it’s simply just practicing single stroke rules to double stroke roles because the concept is similar but there is a difference okay so let me demonstrate then we’ll talk about it okay so if any of you noticed you may have noticed that my wrists weren’t really changing between the singles and the doubles and i was allowing those

0:13:02.2 –>
singles to rebound into a double when i played the double stroke roll so let me kind of break this down for you it’s a little tricky to do it too slow because i don’t want to lose the rhythm but watch this now because i’m going slow i have to kind of help out that second note for the double a bit but as i go a little faster the rebound is just going to take over a little quicker

0:14:04.3 –>
[Music] [Music] and i remember when i first learned this i thought wow what a cool concept because now i am mixing between the single stroke roll and the double stroke roll but i also liked how it sounded and there was some really neat things that i could start doing around the drums exploring stuff on the snare drum of course and even going to some of my tighter toms like this the small tom and the little eight-inch tom and any other concert toms that i had and things like that to use this concept uh cool stuff on the hi-hat too i started playing like thick [Music] and it just started getting my drumming really exciting for me it was quite cool some of the stuff that i was able to pull off but be patient with that because you know you don’t want to do it too slow i tell my students don’t go too slow because here’s the thing if you go tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap and i

0:15:03.3 –>
always say it’s really hard to get a controlled rebound in time that slow so try to find a tempo that’s going to work for you that’s going to start to help you with this with this technique because even if it’s a little sloppy at first that’s fine but you don’t want to spend too much time on something that’s slow that’s meant to be fast you know i say you never want to push yourself but you never want to stay at the back of the race for too long because you’re never going to get to that finish line um any time sooner than you’re hoping for so that’s another great exercise so practice that one guys and you’ll see exactly how much fun that can be around the drums so thanks for hanging out with me i really appreciate that my name is mike mikalko i’m the author of the drumming system and you can click on the link below to find out exactly what the drumming system is it’s a lesson packed full of everything you may possibly want to learn on the drums if you want to see my face on your tv at home all the time we can hang out and talk drums from now till eternity see you soon

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