There is no better way to get started on your new hobby than with a few easy songs to play on drums.
They boost your confidence while also helping you get better at reading drum notation, timing, dynamics, and other aspects of playing the drums.
I firmly believe that learning as many songs as you can when you first begin will prevent drumming from feeling like a chore because you are only practicing rudiments for two hours straight.
Learning songs from completely different musical genres would also be beneficial if you want to start developing your vocabulary as soon as possible.
A perfect practice schedule should have a good balance between learning the fundamentals, such as rudiments or playing to a metronome, and unwinding while listening to some fun tunes.
Let’s define what an easy song is exactly before I list the first easy songs to play on drums.
A song played between 80 and 120 beats per minute should be your initial goal. Over 120 bpm is probably out of your league, while under 80 bpm could make you bored.
Another thing you want is a song with a consistent drum beat, without many drum fills, especially complex ones.
Even though the majority of popular songs aren’t particularly difficult, that one complex drum fill in the middle might make it impossible for you to learn as a beginner.
Additionally, don’t even for a second think that easier songs to play on the drums are inferior to harder songs because, most of the time, less is more.
Now that we talked a little bit about what makes a song easy to play on drums, here are a few examples of songs that any beginner drummer can and should learn:
When I think of an easy song to play on drums, I always think of Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes first.
Meg White’s simplistic drumming style was a bit controversial in the past, but the truth is, it suits The White Stripes like a glove.
In addition, despite being a relatively easy song to learn, it is a ton of fun to play, making it a fantastic choice for a beginner drummer.
The intro is just a four-bar rest, while the verse features quarter notes played simultaneously on the floor tom and bass drum, with Hi-Hat splashes.
At the end of the verse, you add the typical snare drum note on the 2nd and 4th beat to the previous pattern.
On the bridge, you play quarter notes on the bass drum, floor tom, and snare drum, except on the first beat where you play a crash instead of the snare drum.
Additionally, the bridge is followed by the most basic rock beat, where all you have to do is focus on the quarter-note triplets section which might be the hardest part of the whole song.
After learning the intro, the verse, the bridge, and the chorus you can pretty much nail the whole song because it’s the same, over and over.
Drummer: Meg White
Genre: Alternative Rock / Garage Rock / Hard Rock
My second suggestion is one of the many iconic songs from the King of Pop, the one and only, Michael Jackson.
Despite its popularity, it’s still one of the easiest songs to play on drums, because as I’ve said earlier, sometimes, less is more and MJ doesn’t need any complex drum parts to make great music.
The main groove is nothing but the basic backbeat – kick drum on the 1st and 3rd beat, and snare drum on the 2nd and 4th one with straight 8th notes on the Hi-Hat.
To spice things up, at the end of the 1st verse, you strike an open Hi-Hat on the “and” of the 4th beat and play an additional snare drum note between that, and the first beat of the bridge.
On the following bridge, you strike an open Hi-Hat on the “and” of the 4th beat of every second measure, but in the final 2 measures, you also do it on the “and” of the 2nd beat.
The bridge is followed by the chorus, where on the second measure you play a rack tom between the “and” of the 3rd beat and the 4th beat, and an open Hi-Hat on the “and” of the 4th beat of the last measure.
The second verse is the same as the first one, with an additional open Hi-Hat in the “and” of the 4th beat of the 12th measure.
On top of that, the second bridge is also similar to the first one, with two additional open Hi-Hats on the “and” of the 1st and 3rd beat of the last measure.
The second chorus is also just like the first one, with a few extra rack toms notes in between the “and” of the 3rd beat and the 4th beat of some of the measures.
The interlude, the 3rd chorus, and the outro are more of the same – a few open Hi-Hats here and there and an additional rack tom note in between two beats, so there’s nothing new to learn there.
Drummer: Leon “Ndugu” Chancler
Genre: Post-disco / Rhythm and Blues / Funk / Dance-pop
Another one bites the dust is another iconic song with a super basic drum part because that’s honestly all it needs.
It uses the popular four-on-the-floor drum beat that you’ve probably heard before, but if you don’t, here’s how you play it:
You start with straight 8th notes on the Hi-Hat and add a bass drum note on every single beat. The snare is, as usual, on the 2nd and 4th beat.
The beat doesn’t change throughout most of the song, so that’s all you need to learn to play it from start to finish.
The bridge is the only place where the drum beat changes and the only difference is an additional snare drum note on the “and” of the 3rd beat of every second measure.
On top of that, there’s only a single drum fill that repeats multiple times and it goes like this:
During the first half of the measure, you play the drum beat as usual, and in the last two beats is where you play the actual fill.
The 3rd beat is played as 16th notes, and you strike the Hi-Hat and the bass drum simultaneously on the beat, followed by three 16th notes on the snare drum.
But there’s more…
On the 4th beat, you strike the snare drum and the bass drum, as usual, but without the Hi-Hat part. You also strike the bass drum a second time on the “e” of the 4th beat, so right after the first strike.
The drum fill is played at the end of every verse, halfway through the bridge, and the very end of the song.
And just like that, with a single drum beat and a single drum fill, you can play one of the most recognizable songs in the world.
Drummer: Roger Meddows Taylor
Genre: Fun Rock / Disco
Highway to Hell is another perfect example of a super simple song that’s way too fun to play, especially if you’re just starting.
This song has two different drum beats, but the second beat is just a small variation of the first one.
It starts as a basic backbeat – 8th notes on the Hi-Hat, bass drum on the 1st and 3rd beat, and snare drum on the 2nd and 4th beat.
After a few measures, it evolves into something else by adding a bass drum note to the “and” of the 4th beat, and this second beat is what’s played for most of the song.
At the end of the first verse, you play the first drum fill of the song – a quarter note on the crash, snare, and bass drum at the same time, followed by six groups of 8th notes on the snare and floor tom and you finish it with a quarter note flam on the snare drum.
On top of that…
You play the first drum beat on the chorus, but with open Hi-Hats instead. Also, the first measure starts with a quarter note on a crash and the bass drum, and the second measure ends with another quarter note on the crash and bass drum, followed by the final quarter note on the crash and the snare.
After the chorus, there’s a quarter note rest, followed by five quarter notes on the Hi-Hat. The second measure ends with an 8th note Hi-Hat on the 3rd beat, followed by a flam on the snare on the “and”, an 8th note on the tom on the 4th beat, and an 8th note crash and bass drum note on the “and”.
Additionally, in the second verse, you play the same groove from the first verse and finish it with the same 8th note drum fill used at the end of the first verse.
After the second chorus comes the hardest part for any beginner, but it’s something like this:
During the guitar solo, you play the same beat played during the chorus, and right after comes the third chorus.
And voilà, you can now play another rock and roll classic with just a couple of basic drum beats and fills.
Drummer: Phil Rudd
Genre: Hard Rock / Arena Rock / Blues Rock / Rock and Roll
I couldn’t end the article without mentioning the first song I’ve ever learned note for note, which is also the first one I’ve ever performed live.
I’m talking about Creep, by Radiohead, which uses the same groove all the way through, besides a couple of open Hi-Hats or a few extra snare and bass drum notes here and there.
The standard drum beat is something like this: 8th notes on the Hi-Hat, and the snare one 2nd and 4th beat like we’re used to.
On top of that, you add a bass drum note on the 1st beat, between the “and” of the 2nd beat and the 3rd beat, on the 3rd beat as well as on its “and”, and on the “and” of the 4th beat.
You also open the Hi-Hat on the “and” of the 4th beat of every other measure (most of the time), and at the end of the first verse, the last two measures are played with an open Hi-Hat all the way through.
At the final measure of the 1st verse, you also add a bass drum note on the “and” of the 1st and 4th beat.
During the chorus, the only thing that changes on the standard beat is the fact that it’s played on the Ride instead of the Hi-Hat and an extra bass drum note is added on the “and” of the 4th beat.
The 2nd verse has a mix of the standard groove with and without the extra bass drum note on the “and” of the 4th beat. It also ends the same way the 1st verse did.
On top of that, the second chorus also mixes both grooves, and in the middle, you play this groove which is easier to read than to explain:
Then, there’s this part with a completely different groove and a spicy drum fill:
On the outro, you just play 8th notes on the ride while adding a bass drum note on the “and” of the 4th beat and on the 1st beat.
It then ends with the groove that has the extra bass drum note, but played on the ride and using a cross-stick technique instead of a regular snare drum strike.
Besides those 2 or 3 measures during the 2nd chorus, you won’t have any trouble with this easy song to play on drums.
Drummer: Philip Selway
Genre: Alternative Rock / Grunge / Post-Grunge
Drumming is simple to learn, but mastering it is a completely different matter.
In order to have some fun and boost your confidence, it’s important to rock out to some of the classics in between learning the fundamentals and playing nonstop to a click track.
For a beginner, it’s important to go with something that uses the basic backbeat or any of its simple variations.
Additionally, it’s crucial to pick a song with a steady beat and the fewest possible drum fills.
All of the songs I recommended fit the bill, with the first two being the simplest to play.
Besides being easy, they’re also quite popular, which makes everything even easier because you’re most likely familiar with how they sound.
Anyway, I hope this article achieved it’s main purpose of educating you on some easy songs to play on drums and remember, have fun!