10 Essential Drum Patterns

Here are 10 Essential Drum Patterns suitable for beginners. I often give these kinds of patterns to new students at the drum school. With the exception of pattern 7 (which includes a late snare on 4 +) they are all backbeats because they emphasis beats 2 and 4. The first real challenge will probably be the open hi-hats (indicated by the small circles over the hi-hats) in pattern 5. Try pulsing both feet together while playing the hi-hat to achieve this, remembering that the hi-hat should be closed on 1, 2, 3 and 4 and open on the ‘ands’. 

Once you have learnt how to play these patterns, I recommend practising them to a metronome. The tempo should be slow to start with, around 60bpm. Try to coordinate your hands and feet precisely with the metronome clicks. Then increase the tempo. Most of these patterns will sound good at around 100bpm. 

  1. 1/4 Note Backbeat – a very simple beat, common in popular music. This pattern is all about FEEL – getting an easy beat to sound good is an art form.
  2. 1/4 Note Backbeat with ‘four on the floor’ bass drums.
  3. 1/8 Note Backbeat or Straight 8s pattern – another very common beat. Listen to AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black‘ for a classic example.
  4. The same beat but with ‘four on the floor’ bass drums. Roger Taylor plays this with a great feel in Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust‘.
  5. Dance – a standard Disco feel dance beat with open hi-hats. 
  6. Dance – similar to above but with the addition of a groovy little snare on 3e.
  7. Funk – this features a displaced snare drum on 4+ giving it that classic funk feel.
  8. Funk – another funk pattern, this time with open hi-hats.
  9. Rock – a standard ‘no thrills’ rock beat.
  10. Rock – as above.
10 essential drum patterns