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Your First Drum Beat (No Drums Required)

Here’s something that took me a long time to discover:  You don’t need drums to practice the drum set!  In fact, there are times when it’s better to practice when you are not sitting behind a set of drums.  Being a successful drummer is made up of equal parts creativity, technique and groove.  I call this Head, Hands and Heart.  You need creativity (Head) to think up new beats, technique (Hands) to play the beat and groove (Heart) to make it feel good with the band.  That’s why your first drum lesson is going to be without sticks and without drums.  We’re following a plan to play drums in 4 weeks and this is Lesson 2 of 12.  See the complete Plan by clicking here.

The steps below will teach you how to play a simple, but powerful drum beat.  This beat is used as the basis for many rock songs.  Once you know how to play it, you can experiment playing this beat at different speeds and adding your own changes.

You’ll learn this drum beat by lightly slapping your hands on your legs and tapping your feet on the floor.  This will be done Matrix MR500 Quartz Metronomein time to seconds ticking on a clock or the clicking of a metronome.  A metronome is a device that ticks regularly and the speed of the ticks can be adjusted.  When playing a song, a drummer is expected keep a steady beat that does not speed up or slow down unless the song calls for it.  The best way to keep your beats at the same speed is to practice with a metronome.  I practice with my Matrix metronome all the time and even take it to rehearsals to help me remember how fast to play a song.  If you don’t have a metronome, you can buy one from Musician’s Friend by clicking here.

Complete the following steps in order and take the time to master each step before moving on.  It’s okay if you’re not able to complete a step quickly and get frustrated; it happens to everyone.  Take a break from practicing and think about what you’ve accomplished so far.  Think about the part that’s giving you trouble and rehearse it in your mind.  After some time (maybe even a day), go back and try it again.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to play a part that you weren’t able to play before.

  1. If you have a metronome, set it to 60 beats per minute.  If you don’t have a metronome, find a clock that ticks seconds.  This can be a digital watch or a clock with a second hand.
  2. Sit down in a chair that has a firm seat and is high enough so that your knees are at or below the level of the seat.  Dining room table chairs work best.  Sit toward the front of the chair and rest your feet flat on the floor.  Linoleum or hard wood floors are best but carpet is okay too. Sit with your legs comfortably apart.  There should be at least 16 inches between your knees so that your legs can eventually fit around a 14 inch snare drum. The lower part of your leg (below your knee) should go straight down to your heel which is resting flat on the floor.
  3. Imagine you are sitting behind a set of drums.  Click the following link A Time, A Place and the Parts of a Drum Set and memorize the parts of the drum set.  Pretend your right foot is resting on the bass drum pedal and your left foot is on the hi-hat pedal.  Your left hand is about to play the snare drum (your left leg) and your right hand is going to play the ride cymbal (your right leg).
  4. Look at the clock and quietly count out loud to four, one count for each second.  Repeat counting to 4 over and over (1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4…) until you are counting exactly in time with the seconds.   It doesn’t matter what second you start on, just count as the seconds tick away.
  5. Add the word “and” between each count, keeping the count on each second like  “one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and-one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and…”
  6. Tap your right foot on each number count (one tap per second) as if you were playing the bass drum.  Continue tapping your right foot until you can tap exactly on your count.  Once you get to that point, stop tapping your right foot for now.
  7. Counting out loud, rock your left foot so that your heel comes down on “one” and “three” and your toes come down on “two” and “four.”  Each time your toes come down, imagine the hi-hat making a “chick” sound.  This may take some time but practice until you can rock your left foot back and forth in time with your count.  Stop rocking your left foot.  Good job!
  8. Start counting out loud and lightly slap your left hand on your left leg (your snare drum) whenever you say “2” and “4.”  Practice this until you can slap your hand exactly in time with your count.  You can stop slapping your left hand.
  9. Start counting out loud again and tap your right hand on your right leg (your ride cymbal) in time with every word you say (two slaps per second).  When you can tap your hand exactly in time with your count, you can stop.  Congratulations!  You have successfully played all the parts of the drum beat.  Now it’s time to put all the parts together.
  10. Start counting out loud.  Tap your right foot on every number count.
  11. Once you are playing your right foot exactly on each number count, start rocking your left foot heel on “one” and “three” and your toes on “two” and “four.”
  12. When your feet are playing together with your count, slap your right hand one each count (two slaps per second).
  13. Once your right hand is playing with your feet, add your left hand on “two” and “four.”  Imagine you can hear the bass drum, hi-hat, ride cymbal and snare drum all playing together.  Great job!  You are now playing the beat that is the foundation for most rock songs!

Continue to practice this beat until it feels comfortable.  If you are having trouble, make sure that you can play each hand and foot separately.  Then try playing different combinations.  For example, try playing your right hand and right foot together or your right foot and left hand.  Practice hard and have fun!

3 Responses to “Your First Drum Beat (No Drums Required)”

  1. Madhu says:

    Dear Doug, I did not quite get the beat. When you said 2 taps per second in point 9, did u mean we got to tap for 1&2&3&4&. Thats 8 times in a bar

    • Doug says:

      Hi Madhu, Yes, you should tap your right hand 8 times in one bar “1″ “and” “2″ “and” “3″ “and” “4″ “and”. Hope this helps. Doug

  2. rasila queen says:

    Simple but effective.