Top 10 Beginner Drum Songs to Ruin Your Neighbors’ Evening!
Truth: You haven’t LIVED as a drummer till you’ve basked in the joy of learning a song down to the smallest downbeat and played it so many times while reveling in the sheer perfection of the rhythm that your neighbor is banging on the door begging you to stop. So, you might as well get this fundamental life experience out of the way first thing.
And then you should probably acquire some nice, quiet practice pads or the best electronic drum set for quiet practice before they call the police on you. (Of course, many drummers will say that you haven’t lived till you’ve acquired your first mug shot too.)
In all in good fun though, and they’ll forgive you…someday. Meanwhile, prepare to crank up your stereo and get your beat on, because these 10 songs are already within your grasp to master so you can build your confidence and feel like a pro from the start.
Top 10 Drum Songs For Beginners
1. Highway to Hell – AC/DC: Highway to Hell is basically the drummer’s version of Stairway to Heaven for guitarists. Basically, if you walk into a guitar center, you need only wait a few minutes before you hear a newbie try to crank out the first few notes of that melody. Ipso facto for the drums. Listen carefully and you’ll hear that steady beat coming from the back room where the drums are. Why? Because it’s hands down the easiest drum rhythm to master…ever. It’s basically the one rhythm that almost every drummer learns to play first on their set, whether they knew they were playing AC/DC or not. The video below shows the basic beats and slowly demonstrates the breaks so they can be picked up by beginners as well.
2. Victim of Love -The Eagles: Sooooooo easy! This song would be first if Highway to Hell wasn’t. This is a great song for teaching very basic timing while learning to work in breaks for the first time. Because it’s so down tempo, novices can experiment without falling off beat too hard. It’s easy to pick back up from mistakes too. You’ll also learn the basic use of sustain and mute. Once you get it down, this is one of the beats that invites to to experiment with different riffs. You may find that you like the way the song sounds more when you play with it than without after a while.
3. Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams: This song will make you feel like an instant pro. The beat is as basic as the come and the footwork is simple. You will use your full set. Probably the most complex part is the hi-hat footwork. You’ll need to be able to switch to open and closed playing and master chicks as well. It’s a full body workout so this is one of the better practice songs to get you to utilize your entire set.
4. Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash: If you have learned your 26 American Drumming Standards, then take a crack at this song. You might fall right off your throne when you realize that you got the rhythm right on the first try. The footwork is basic 1 and 3 for the kick and 2 and 4 for the hi-hat, so if you have been practicing the fundamentals while using your feet for time, you’ve already played the song. Try it. You’ll see… Plus, everyone should know how to play at least one Johnny Cash song.
5. Living After Midnight – Judas Priest: Don’t let your neighbors know I tipped you off to this one. They will NEVER forgive me. This one could be played forever on a loop. Best, you can have a blast going crazy on your crash and ride. The hi-hat is all chick with a heavy bass downbeat. If you really, really hate your neighbor, or just want a little revenge, play this after midnight. Make sure you work that reverb in there. They won’t know whether to scream at you or tell you how much your drumming has improved. Just kidding. They’ll scream for sure.
6. Get Lucky – Daft Punk: Who doesn’t dream of playing with Daft Punk and Nile Rodgers? Pharrell Williams made this particular fantasy a reality with Daft Punk’s multi-platinum album Random Access Memories. And who cares if you can’t pick up the intricacies of the beat, Guy will pick up the slack with some of the best electronic drum set grooves you will ever witness. Just have some fun and cut loose on this one. You won’t regret it. Incidentally, Nile is set to be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. It’s a blast to watch him groove in this video.
7. Bad to the Bone – George Thorogood: Bad to the bone is a Rock Band favorite. If you’ve never played Rock Band, it’s pretty much the most fun you can have without leaving your sofa. The reason this song is a Rock Band favorite is that it’s pretty much the same beat all the way through. There isn’t much in here to trip a beginner up.
8. Brick House – Tower of Power: Ok, this one isn’t easy at all. There’s a lot of fancy footwork going on here. Luckily you can hang in there with a more basic beat and practice picking up some of the more complex riffs as you go. This song is so funky that your neighbor might actually just decide to boogie along instead of calling the cops. It’s so much fun to learn that you won’t get bored even if you go at it for hours. There’s also a little bongo toward the end so you can polish your handwork. Heck, just play along on the bongos for the entire song. It’s an amazing groove.
9. She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals: This one sounds harder than it really is. It’s a good one to impress your friends with, and any beginner can pick it up. This is because it’s basically a straight beat on the closed hi-hat and snare with very basic footwork. It’s also a great learning tool because this song teaches fast, steady hand work utilizing a bit of a stretch. Just like practicing arpeggios on the guitar, you need to learn to switch between drums and cymbals with smooth movement to expand your skills. You’ll work your arms out till they feel like they are going to fall off, but it won’t take more than a few tries to get the basic beat down.
10. Seven Nation Army – White Stripes: Last but not least, ANYTHING by the White Stripes, but start with Seven Nation Army. This isn’t because it’s the easiest song to play. Believe it or not, it’s one of the harder ones to really master because the sound is so pared down that the tiniest glitches in beat will throw it off. Meg White’s a lot more skilled than her simple riffs imply. She’s like a human metronome. Here’s a video to help get you started.
While learning the fundamentals is essential, every beginner needs to break up the routine a bit and have a little fun. After all, that’s the entire purpose of making music in the first place. Playing along with your favorite songs is actually an amazing learning tool for these reasons. Best of all, every one of these songs can be played with the most basic beginner’s drum sets on the market. The variety of styles will help you learn which kinds of equipment you might want to branch out into as you grow as well. If you haven’t chosen a basic kit yet, check out our new reviews to find out which ones might be right for you. Perhaps a set that’s easily equipped with a mute pack, so your neighbors can recover from their headache.