Essential Drumming Techniques Every Musician Should Know

Posted by Mike Schumacher

Drumming is a musical instrument that can be played in many different genres. It is also one of the most popular instruments, with almost everyone being familiar with at least some of the drum basics.

Drum kits come with a set of drums that include a bass drum, a couple of tom-toms, and a snare. Many different genres only use these instruments, or some variation of them. With the right knowledge and skill, you can create amazing music on just these instruments.

Besides the actual drums, there are other tools that are used to enhance drumming. These include brushes, sticks, and pedals. All of these add additional sounds to the drums that make them more interesting to listen to. Artists often use all of these in their songs to create different sounds and layers.

This article will talk about some basic techniques for musicians who want to learn how to play the drums but do not know the basics of drumming.


Essential Drumming Techniques Every Musician Should Know

Along with handclapping, footstomping is a fundamental element of music. Most musicians will include some sort of stomp in their songs, even if it’s just a single strike.

Whether it is a single tap of the foot or a full drum kit beat, the rhythm of the footstomp can be incorporated into the music. As mentioned before, drums are an integral part of most music genres, so you will always have an opportunity to add your own footstomps.

Some songs require very specific foot patterns to match the music. If you are not comfortable with doing this, then do not worry! Just listen closely to the song and try to match the rhythm of the music with your feet.

Once again, practicing makes perfect! If you need some tips on how to do this correctly, look up some beginner footwork practices for dancing.


Essential Drumming Techniques Every Musician Should Know

A downstroke is when you strike the drum or cymbal in a downward motion. Most music uses both upstroke and downstroke sequences, so it is important to be fluent in both.

Downstrokes are typically used to establish the rhythm or beat of a song. This can be said for both drums and bass lines. When playing the bass line on the drums, the downstrokes set the tempo or beat.

Upstrokes are more difficult as you have to reverse your finger stroke. It takes some practice to get smooth and fast upstrokes, but they add a nice touch to music. Music can look more interesting when there are differences in stroke type.


Essential Drumming Techniques Every Musician Should Know

In drumming, an upstroke is when you strike the drumhead with the stick in an upward direction. An upstroke can be used to play almost every genre of music.

Upstrokes are used to play the hi-hat, where the stick strikes both cymbals at the same time. The upstroke allows for a split second where the other hand can pick up a new drum and continue playing.

Downstrokes are used less due to this ability to swap hands. It is harder to achieve a solid groove using only downstrokes. Upstrokes are more versatile as they can be used with any other stroke.

Upstrokes can be tricky at first due to how you have to position your hand on the stick.

Double-bass drumming

Essential Drumming Techniques Every Musician Should Know

A very popular technique is double-bass drumming. This is when a drummer uses both feet to play the bass drum. The first beat of a measure is usually played on the left foot, and the second beat of the measure is usually played on the right foot.

Many popular songs use double-bass drumming, so it is a good skill to learn. It can be challenging to get down properly, though!

How hard you strike the bass drum makes a difference in how much double-bass you use. If you want a quieter roll, then use less force on both feet. If you want a louder roll, then use more force on both feet!

Getting the timing right can be tricky, so look up some videos or find someone who can help you with that.

Snare rolls

Essential Drumming Techniques Every Musician Should Know

Next up is snare rolls, which is one of the most fundamental drumming techniques. A snare roll is a series of drum strokes that utilize the rim and the head of the drum.

Like the kick roll, the snare roll can be played at a constant tempo or varied in speed. When done at a constant tempo, the snare roll can be felt as one beat per stroke.

Since there are many ways to play a snare roll, there are also many variations. Some rolls can have more strokes than others, and some can have different rhythms. Try experimenting with all types to find which you like the most!

Some more advanced drummers use what is called a continuous rim shot in their snare rolls. This means that instead of just hitting the rim once at the beginning of each stroke, they hit it continuously until the next stroke occurs.

Hi-hat control

Essential Drumming Techniques Every Musician Should Know

Moving your hands quickly is easy, right? Not so fast! Drumming is all about controlling your hands and feet.

You can be the fastest drummer in the world, but if you cannot control the timing and distinction of each beat, you are not very good.

The hi-hat is a set of drums that has a foot pedal. This allows you to play both the left and right drum at the same time. You can play just the left drum or just the right drum as well.

How? With skill!

You have to have precise control over your foot on the pedal and your hand in moving the left drum up and down. The more you practice, the better you will be.

Try taking some time off and just practicing moving your left hand up and down repeatedly.

Tom fills

Essential Drumming Techniques Every Musician Should Know

A tom fill is when you strike a drum, or a set of drums, in a rhythmic pattern to transition from one drum beat pattern to the next. These can be done in middle of a song or at the end of a song verse or chorus.

Tom fills can be counted out like a normal drum beat or can be done by feel. If you have heard a tom fill and it sounded perfect, then it was probably counted out.

Some more advanced players do not count out their fills, but rather have some sort of rhythm in their head that they come up with on the spot.

Some common fill patterns include running doubles, triplets, crushes, and paradons. All of these have different feels so make sure to pick up on those.

Bass drum kicks

Essential Drumming Techniques Every Musician Should Know

Now let’s move onto the bass drum. The bass drum can be played in a simple kick, or can be layered with additional sounds to create more complexity.

As mentioned before, the key is to find your own comfort level when it comes to adding additional sounds on the bass drum. If you are just starting out, try adding a second rim shot on the drum with your foot.

This is done by tapping the inner rim of the drum with your heel of your foot. Try setting a tempo and counting out two seconds between each strike of the rim.

Once you get the hang of that, try adding a third strike at the end of the two seconds.

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