How To Play Drum Beats

Great question … How To Play Drum Beats. There are a couple of things to consider, you have two hands and two legs and the rest of your body. ;) Also, consider that a drum set is made up of many different drums and cymbals.

Arms and Legs

To play a drum beat each arm and each leg play a part. Each limb has an assignment. It can be as simple as patting your foot. And, as you know, it can be a rhythm a bit more complex. The challenge of playing the drums is that each arm and each leg are sometimes playing different things. This is were the difficulty comes in.

Ways to keep it simple — To keep it simple don’t use all your limbs. [This is to just get started.] Maybe just use one hand and one leg. There are many acceptable drum beats with just this assignment. Playing a drum beat is a building process and when you start simple you can building some incredible things.
How To Play Drum Beats
Example — Let’s try a drum beat. Pat your right foot on the floor and count 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 — repeating 1-2-3-4 over and over. Count with the patting of your right foot. Now add the left hand. Each time you count 2 or 4, slap your left knee. ——Congratulations, you just played a drum beat. Granted … it was a simple one but that does count as a drum beat. I actually played that the other night on a gig.

Many Drums

Now that you have some understanding about your arms and legs, let’s talk about the drum set. One of the things that makes playing the drums so interesting is that a drum set is made up of many different instruments. Most people don’t think of it that way but it’s true. Each part of the drum set is an instrument unto itself. For example the snare drum, in some settings a person will play only the snare drum, or only the cymbals.

It has only been in the beginning of the 20th century that all the pieces came together in a drum set. Drummers have been playing for thousands of years and the modern drum set is a relatively new invention.

With this in mind, each arm and each leg is assigned to an instrument. Typically, for a right-handed drummer, the right foot is assigned to the bass drum. The left hand is assigned to the snare drum. The left foot typically rests on the hi-hat. And the right hand moves around.

As we learned above, each limb has an assigned rhythm. So, combining, the assigned instrument and the assigned rhythm — you are playing a drum beat on a drum set.

Simple in concept — more difficult in execution.

Hope this helps!

PS — if you have a song that you’d like to know the drum beat, let me know — maybe I can figure it out for you. Give you the instrument assignments and the rhythm assignments.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Layne Nugent March 14, 2011 at 7:26 am

there is one song on the top of my head that I would love to learn, it sounds like so much fun to play and that is “what I like about you” by The Romantics, if have the time, want or like to figure it out, that would be awesome.

Thanks again

Layne Nugent

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