Learning how to play the drums takes practice, hard work, and dedication. Beginners should start playing the easiest songs they can. Not only will this help them to better understand how drumming should sound, but it will also boost their confidence levels as they grow within this craft.
If you're new to the drumming community, it can seem like a great big world of difficult "rock-star level" songs to play. Sometimes a challenge is good, but a lot of times this can cause intermediate drummers to lose their nerve and not want to keep playing at all.
To prevent this from happening, as drumming is an art-form that allows many individuals to express themselves creatively, here are 10 easy songs to play on the drums to get you started.
One of the simplest, and most popular to learn first, is "We Will Rock You" by Queen.
This is the classic rock song played on bleachers and lunch tables, so how hard could it be on the drums?
The answer is not very difficult. In fact, the ever-popular band Queen created this song the way that they did simply so that their fans could play along with them, and you'll be doing just that by drumming along to this simple beat.
Keep in mind, however, the original tempo of this song was played in a higher tempo known as double-time, so you are welcome to try to play it more in tune to the original creation or the slower version used by many drummers.
Fun fact: The logo for Queen actually has all of the band's star signs incorporated in it: 2 Leos, 1 Virgo, and 1 Cancer. Additionally, it was designed by Freddie Mercury himself!
Next on the list of great tunes to play with a beginner's skill level is "Paradise City" by Guns N Roses.
This rock song by Guns N Roses is great practice for those looking to fine-tune their ability to play with riffs. It makes this skill easier to learn with its simple rhythms.
Starting with this song is a great way to learn simple rhythms that repeat throughout the song. The tactics used in this tune are easy for a novice drummer to pick up given some time.
Fun fact: Guns N Roses drummer Steven Adler nearly joined AC/DC in the early '90s after a brief leave from Guns N Roses, but the manager of AC/DC found out about Adler's drug addiction and retracted his offer to have him join the band.
Smells like an easy song to play on the drums - and it is! "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana is such a classic hit and one you should practice as a novice drummer.
This classic rock song gives beginning drummers the perfect opportunity to learn the basic technical skills involved in the art of drumming. Challenge yourself to keep up with the expert drummer in Nirvana, Dave Grohl, who just happens to be one of the finest drummers of his time. You will learn how to hit the cymbals and the rim clicks in time with the other instruments that you're playing with.
Fun fact: Nirvana had a bit of trouble finding a permanent drummer before David Grohl cam along. They went through at least five different drummers before landing on Grohl, and it's a good thing they did. Otherwise, the hits that we know and love may not have been the same.
Drumming is a very physical activity. In fact, many people begin drumming simply as a creative way to stay in shape. If you are just starting out, you're going to have to build your endurance for this activity somewhere, and many people agree that "Hallowed Be Thy Name" by Iron Maiden offers amazing practice.
With nearly 8 minutes of playing time, you're bound to build your abilities in regard to how long you're able to play without rest, and you'll even have fun with this great song while doing it.
This song is great for beginners to start to learn how to hit fills on accents with guitar riffs and will help you to practice using both your right and your left hand to hit the high hat, as opposed to the general habit of only using your right hand for this skill.
Fun fact: Eddie the Head, Iron Maiden's faithful mascot, started out as just a mask that sat at the back of the stage. They fed blood capsules through the mouth that would often unexpectedly (and metal-y) drip down and soak the drummer with fake blood. The first drawing of Eddie, created by artist Derek Riggs, was based on an image that he saw of a decapitated head on top of a Vietnamese tank, and it was featured on Iron Maiden's debut album.
Lars Ulrich, drummer for Metallica, both created and played his own songs, making him a very impressive drummer to look up to. This is why "Sad But True" is a great song to start out with because you're already learning from one of the best drummers of the time period.
"Sad But True" isn't inherently difficult, but it has important elements that will help you get ready for some of the harder stuff that you will play, or even take after Lars Ulrich and create your own music that you can compose and play.
Its dragging groove, offbeat fills, and mixture of straight roles with triplets all make for great trial runs for the more advanced songs in your future of drumming.
Fun fact: Metallica has sold an estimated 100 million records all around the world.
Don't worry, there is more to drumming than the rock and metal songs we have covered so far. This option is for those of you who want a more alternative rock style in your practice.
A more alternative take on drumming, Weezer's "Beverly Hills" features simple patterns and slow-paced drumming that makes it easy to keep up with, no matter what the skill level of the drummer is.
With its release in 2005, it was one of the first popular songs to feature the "double stroke roll," which gives us the great sound that we know and love in this early 2000s hit.
Make sure you're working on your technique while doing the double stroke roll to ensure that it is crisp and at the speed that it needs to be.
Fun fact: the fan favorite song "Buddy Holly" by Weezer was almost titled "Ginger Rogers" and would have made a completely different song with the lyrics "You look just like Ginger Rogers (oh, oh), I move just like Fred Astaire". Let's all say a special thanks to rewrites (and rewrites of those rewrites).
Taking things into a more pop setting, Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" is a great practice song for learning the flam on the snare drum.
This tactic is achieved by placing one drumstick a few inches above the drum with the other stick eight to ten inches higher, but these two strokes should be nearly simultaneous. This process will thicken the notes by adding a grace note, and Teenage Dream is a great song to practice this tactic on.
The beat in this song is impossible to shake, and also almost impossible to screw up, even as a beginner.
Fun Fact: Both of Katy Perry's parents are pastors, and Perry was introduced to singing for her church at a young age. And to answer your next question, yes, they did have an issue with her single "I Kissed a Girl".
Moving into the jazz portion, this song by Herbie Hancock has drumming that makes everything easier for those looking to pursue drumming in jazz.
This jazz song maintains a slow and groovy tempo for a majority of the song, which makes it ideal for the beginner looking to gain expertise on the jazz front of drumming.
Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock's trusted drummer, is a well-known drummer in the jazz world, so if you're looking to become a successful jazz drummer, there is no better song to start out with than Cantaloupe Island.
With this song, you'll be introduced to the common jazz technique called the buzz roll, which is great for crescendos and can be carried over into many other styles of music if necessary.
The buzz roll is seen in many different songs in this genre, so it is definitely one skill that you'll need to know to succeed.
Fun Fact: In 1986, Herbie Hancock was voted one of Rolling Stone's Sexiest Musicians of the Year, and he was displayed proudly on the cover that year.
This slow, love anthem is the perfect way to start out your drumming experience if you are looking to start out slow.
For many, this was the very first song that they learned to drum, so it is without a doubt one of the easiest to learn to play and Michael Bolton will hold a special place in your heart for this reason alone.
With its simple cross-sticking skills, cymbals, and a bass drum backing, this song is almost as simple as it gets, making it the ideal song to start your drumming career with.
Fun fact: Michael Bolton, born Michael Bolotin, originally had more interest in hard rock and was even the frontman in the band Blackjack before settling down into his soothing voice-driven career.
While this next song may feel like cheating, hear us out...
For the casual listener of ZZ Top, you would think that the drums in the song Sharp Dressed Man were real live drums.
However, this song was released in a time when ZZ Top was experimenting with different styles and tools, including synthesizer and other manipulation tools, so the drums on this song are actually digitally created, meaning that the drum machine heard in the song is not created by a live drummer.
While this may spark debate over whether or not a machine can play the same way that a real drummer can (spoiler: it cannot), it does not take away that it is a great tempo and rhythm to learn how to play.
The song has since been replicated and played in garage bands more times than you can count due to its easy tempo and simple rhythm. It is interesting to go back and listen to the differences between the drum machine and Frank Beard's style, though.
Bonus Tip - Practice Your Exercises
While playing songs that you hear on the radio is likely more fun than the exercises listed in your common books on drumming, it is important to remember to continue practicing those as well.
This includes the exercises that you involve in your warm-up, which allows you to get loose and ready for the songs that you will be playing that session and the exercises that allow you to practice certain techniques that you haven't quite mastered yet.
For example, many common drumming books have exercises to be done on a drum pad as practice for the real thing. These drum pads will allow you to practice your technique quietly (the people living with you will thank us for this one) and from nearly anywhere.
It's no surprise that drum-sets can vary in size, but one thing that they all have in common is that you don't want to lug any of them around. With drum pads, you can practice your exercises and better your skills from anywhere, drum-set or not.
Once you have an understanding of the basic methods and tactics of these easier songs, you will be ready to trek out into more advanced songs, or even make your own songs with all of the skills that you learned through these beginner songs.
Good luck and drum on!