How to Learn Drum Beats

Three Ways to Learn Drum Beats

You heard a cool drum beat in a song and want to learn it. Then you get on your drums and don’t know how to do it. How Do You Learn Drum Beats? Practice is the correct answer. But if you don’t know what to practice; how do you begin?

Drum Teacher

A drum teacher will show you what to play and how to play it. If you take drum lessons, your drum teacher can show you how to learn drum beats. This is the fastest way to learn drum beats when you can’t figure it out yourself. They can tell you what to practice and show you tricks to learn difficult coordinations.

Some drum teachers offer one-time or occasional lessons. Schedule a lesson to learn the drum beat for the song you want to learn. Tell the teacher which song you want to learn.

But you can figure it out yourself if the drum beat isn’t too hard for your skill level.

Drum Notation or Tabs

If you can read drum music, you have two options.
1. Find the sheet music or tablature. You can look online or ask your local music store to order it.
2. Get the drum beat transcribed. I offer this service free to my students. Drum Transcribing. Contact me to transcribe drum parts.

By Ear

Learning to hear drum beats takes practice. Don’t assume you can’t do it just because it’s hard at first. You can develop your ability to learn drum parts by ear. If it isn’t obvious what to play, try following these steps.

A. Listen to a short section of the drum beat
It is useful if you can repeat the section. Use an app or loop feature to repeat a section.

B. Find the pulse
Usually, if you can comfortably tap your foot to a song, you’ve found the pulse.
If you can tap your foot to only part of the beat, start with that.

C. Count along with the pulse
Most drum beats repeat every 4 or 8 pulses. You can usually tell where the beat starts over. That is count ONE. Listen and tap your foot. Count each tap until you feel the beat start over.

D. Get familiar
Now that you determined how the beat fits with the pulse, listen to it repeatedly. Counting with the beat will help when you begin playing it. Try subdividing the pulses. Most often, pulses can be subdivided into 8th notes: 1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&.

E. Break it down
With your counting solid, you can start placing parts of the beat in the counting. Can you hear where the snare drum is playing? Or maybe the bass drum is more prominent. Or sometimes the steady rhythm of the hi-hat is easy to hear. Be methodical to determine where each part is played.

F. Put it together
When you’ve determined where each instrument plays, count as you listen to the beat with your new awareness. You are ready to sit down and learn to play the drum beat.

Learn It Later

Finally, the beat may just be too hard for you. If so, go on to something easier. Come back in a few months and try again. The drum beats you learn instead may prepare you for the difficult beat. When you come back to the hard drum beat, you may no longer find it difficult.

When you want to learn a drum beat you have good options. The best way to learn drums is with a good drum teacher. Pay for a drum lesson to learn the drum beats with a good teacher. You can buy drum notation or tabs. You can figure out the drum beat yourself. If all else fails, set aside difficult beats and work on easier beats until you’re ready.


  1. Callum Palmer on June 25, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    I’ve been wanting to pick up drums for some time now. As you said here, there are some techniques that I could learn to help me out. All in all, I think it would be best to go with a drum teacher.

    • Sheboygan Drums on June 26, 2019 at 12:27 pm

      Playing drums is great! If you’re in the Sheboygan area, call anytime to get started. I have students from age 4 to 70.

  2. Joe Baltus on April 22, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Good stuff. Wen to your site because I have relatives in Sheboygan.

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