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My Top 5 songs for Beginner Drummers

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Elijah is a university-educated drummer with extensive experience for both teaching and musical performance.  Since completing his Bachelor of Music degree at Concordia University in 2010, he has played music across each province in Canada and in more than 20 countries around the world. For information about private lessons at his studio in Montreal or for lessons on Skype visit: Elijah Drums

 


#1:  We Will Rock You by Queen

When I get a new drum student who has never touched a drum-set in their lives, this is the song that I start them off with.  The first two beats can be played on the floor tom and the back beat can be played on the snare.  Usually, my students naturally do the rest after the snare beat, but if they don’t, I’ll get them to make a big shushhhh sound on beat 4.  I then ask them to play the song along along with the recording.  What makes this song great for beginner drummers is that it doesn’t require any independence (meaning no drums are played at the same time), so my students can experience the feeling of “Grooving” in a matter of seconds.  Once they can play it, I’ll get them to move the pattern around the drum kit.  The first two strokes sound great on the bass drum or cymbal too.

 

#2: Roar by Katy Perry

This is the second song that I usually get beginners to play.  It still doesn’t require any independence, but the rhythm is a bit syncopated and offers a slightly higher level of difficulty. I usually break it down into two parts.  The first part is played on the floor tom and snare.  once they get it, I moved on to the second part and practise that separately.  This part is done on the  tom and then back to the snare.  Sometimes kids will play a double coming from the tom to the snare.  So I usually have to stop them and make them practise playing singles from the tom to the snare.

#3:  Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

This is a great song for beginners because the intro drum hits are very intuitive.  It’s also very fun for beginners to learn how to choke the crash cymbal with their hand.  Students can usually recognize the intro rhythm without notation.  If need be, I break the intro down into 4 separate sections and have them practise each section individually.  Once they understand each section, I have them play the punches in sequence along to the recording. Once this is mastered, I get them to learn the beat.  The beat is a basic straight eighth note rock pattern. For many beginner students this can be a little fast.  When this is the case, I replace the eighth notes on the hi-hat with quarter notes.

1/8 note rock beat:

1/4 note rock beat: (simplified option)

The fill:

If my student can play the beat along to the song, sometimes I will  teach them the first fill that happens after the first verse. 

* The last eighth note of the fill is an open hi-hat, if this is too difficult, replace it with the floor tom.

#4: Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day

This is a great song to play along to because the tempo is nice and moderate.  At this point, I’ve usually taught my student to play a basic rock beat as well as how to link it together with a simple drum fill.  Boulevard of Broken uses a variation of the basic rock beat.  The variation consists of adding a second bass drum stroke on beat 3. 

Fills

There are also many cool sounding fills that start on different beats, so this introduces the beginner drummer to starting fills at different places within the beat.

Verse to chorus fill:

Chorus fill:

I always isolate the fill and have the student work on it until they can play it with the right sticking.  After, I get them to play it in sequence with the beat before it and after.

#5:  My Girl by The Temptations

This song starts with the classic Motown fill.  It’s not very difficult to get and it’s a great way to teach the student to start a song off with a fill.  The fill begins on beat 3, so they need to learn to learn to count as the bass line begins.

The beat can be a little challenging for beginners, because there are bass drum strokes on the off beats.  It’s also fun for beginners to learn to play drum breaks and there are a few in this song.

That’s it! Those are the 5 beginner drum songs that I use with my beginner drum students.  Leave a comment a tell me which songs worked well for you as a beginner?

 

 

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