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5 Basic Drum Beats for Beginners

Like most other instruments, learning to play the drums is no easy feat. It requires regular practice to build up muscle memory and stamina, as well as patience! But unlike other instruments, you won’t need to worry about melody and harmony, only about rhythm and timekeeping. As a beginner who has just recently picked up drumming, these 5 beats would be immensely helpful for you in your practice! And for those of you who do not have a drum kit at home, check out our other article on how you can practice the drums at home without a drum set.

Standard 8th note groove

You definitely would have heard this beat anywhere — it’s one of the most commonly played groove in pop, rock and funk music! In this drum beat, you will play the low-pitched bass drum on beats 1 and 3, while on beats 2 and 4, you will play the high-pitched snared drum. For every 4 beats, play the hi-hat cymbal. Once you’ve gotten into the rhythm of this beat, you can even modify it by adding variations and improvisation!


In this beat, instead of the usual 4-beat rhythm, you’ll be organizing the rhythm in groups of threes, just like the dance it was named after. The melody of the waltz beat requires that every first beat in a group be given a stronger emphasis, lending the whole groove a powerful flow. This is actually one of the simpler beats, but it has some more exciting permutations such as the quarter-note waltz, eighth-triplet waltz and 16th-note waltz that you could try out too.

16th note groove

This one’s a little bit more complex than the earlier two, but nothing you can’t handle, we’re sure! What makes this groove a tad bit more complicated is because it involves including notes that are not played in sync with the hi-hats. In this groove, four hi-hats are played for every bass and snare beat. If you’re playing it at a slower tempo, the 16th note hi-hat accents can be done with just your dominant hand. But if you’re thinking of amping up the beat, you’ll likely need to alternate hands.

Motown drum beat groove

Before you start playing this beat, we recommend that you first listen to some R&B and Motown artists like Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and Stevie Wonder, and play close attention to the sound, pattern and rhythm of the drums. This groove features snare drum backbeats on every quarter note — a defining characteristic of this beat.

Half-time groove

The half-time groove is relaxing, rhythmic and creates a laid-back drumbeat. With the half-time groove, you could play the same song as you would with a standard 8th note groove, and it would change up the feel of the song entirely. In this beat, shorten the pulse of the beat (not the tempo) in half. And since the pulse of the beat is usually felt with the snare drum, simply cut the snare in half for a half-time beat.

There you have it — 5 basic drum beats that you can practice to become proficient in playing the drums eventually! Remember: nothing worth doing is ever easy. And if you need a teacher to guide you with your learning, What’s Your Jam offers drumming lessons that will take you through, step-by-step the syllabus to drumming.



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