Learning to play new songs is a great way to stretch your skills as a drummer and have fun. At the beginning, your willpower can easily depend on the choice of the songs you practice. You want to strike a good balance between playing easy songs at the start, but also stretching your abilities a little. Playing songs you enjoy is a great way to maintain your motivation.
Here is a list of ten great songs for beginners that won’t be too demanding for a new drummer and will also keep you motivated.
1) Californication by RHCP
This song from the eponymous RHCP album from 1999 has a perfect tempo for a beginner drummer. The drumming patterns aren’t too complex, but they do require your full attention and practice. RHCP drummer Chad Smith really did a great job on this song.
The great thing about this song, drum-wise, is that the famous intro is played only by the bass and the guitar. Hence, drummers have some time to grasp the rhythm and the tempo.
With this video, you can practice how to play “Californication” downtempo and we believe that you’re going to master it in a jiffy.
2) Back in Black by AC/DC
In 1980 AC/DC released one of their best-selling albums, Back in Black. The opening track on this album was the eponymous “Back in Black”. Its catchy, classic-rock 4/4 rhythm makes it one of the most suitable drum songs for beginners.
Also, the regular repetition of the guitar riff makes it easier to keep the rhythm.
AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd delivered an iconic, yet simple drum pattern with strong beats and clear fills.
3) La Grange by ZZ Top
When talking about straightforward drumming patterns, it’s crucial to add ZZ Top to that list. If you’re a drumming beginner, playing ZZ Top’s “La Grange” is a must.
Similarly to the abovementioned intro of Californication, the first few bars of “La Grange” are played by the bass and the guitar. As a drummer, it gives you some time to prepare for the rhythm of the song. This resourceful tutorial will help you learn every single bit (and beat) of this song.
Also, Frank Beard plays the well-known Texas shuffle rhythm in this song. It’s played in a variety of Southern rock and other popular songs. Learn more about Texas shuffle here.
4) In My Life by The Beatles
Whatever your view of Ringo Starr is (opinions range from ‘one of the best drummers ever’ to ‘worst drummer in the Beatles’), he was definitely a very influential drummer.
His drumming style is best heard in songs like Back in the USSR or Rain, but beginners should wait with these numbers for a bit.
One of the Beatles’ songs you’ll be able to drum almost from day one is “In My Life”. The reminiscent lyrics of this song are accompanied by a perfectly mellow rhythm. You play the bass drum, the snare and the hi-hat cymbal in the verse, while the chorus is dominated by the ride and hi-hat cymbals.
In this cover, you can see that “In My Life” is a perfect choice for the beginning of your drumming life.
5) Blue Orchid by The White Stripes
Meg White, the drummer of The White Stripes, sometimes got a bad rep over her simplistic drumming. The drum track on the song Seven Nation Army is extremely basic. However, more intricate drumming might have ruined the song.
There is a lesson to be learned from great songs with simple beats. Sometimes less is more. As a drummer you should be working with other band members to get the best out of your songs.
Sometimes that means sitting back a bit. Therefore you don’t need killer chops to come out with a solid and tasteful performance.
One of the most notable songs from The White Stripes album Get Behind Me Satan, released in 2005, “Blue Orchid” is a real treat for every novice drummer.
Meg White gives a great performance not only on the studio version, but on live gigs, as well. Here you can see The White Stripes playing “White Orchid” at Glastonbury Festival in 2005. The tempos is a bit faster than the original studio song.
In this cover, you can see that playing this song is nothing to worry about (don’t feel like you need to learn the stick tricks!). You start with the bass drum and play it along the guitar intro. Then you add the tom-tom drum to the bass as the verse starts and move on to play the snare drum, the ride cymbal and the bass drum.
It’s a pretty straightforward rhythm that only takes some time for practice.
6) Sing in Silence by Sonata Arctica
A mid-paced song released on the Silence album from 2001, “Sing in Silence” is a wonderful choice for drumming beginners who like Scandinavian power metal.
Sonata Arctica drummer Tommy Pertimo came up with a convincing, yet uncomplicated rhythmic pattern for this song.
After the intro that combines the keyboard and the vocals, you start with a smooth 4/4 rhythm steadily played on the bass drum and the hi-hat cymbal. See how an amateur drummer easily plays it in this educative video.
7) Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones
“Gimme Shelter” was released in 1969, on Let It Bleed, one of the most influential rock albums of the 1960s.
Charlie Watts’ drumming was perfectly incorporated into the intimate atmosphere of this song.
A newbie drummer should take a look at this performance to get the gist of what you’re supposed to play here. It’s a basic r’n’r drumming pattern with a combo of the bass drum, the snare and the ride cymbal. Also, there are some fills later on in the song. For starters, stick to the verse and then add those other elements as you’re improving your drumming skills.
8) Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi
One of the songs that defined the 1980s, Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” was released in 1986, on the Slippery When Wet album.
It has a powerful, but uncomplicated drum line, which put it in the group of the good songs to drum to.
Tico Torres played the drums on this recording and added a fine pop-rock drumming touch to an outstanding tune.
The rhythm flows smoothly with the drum bass, the snare and the hi-hat cymbal, as shown in this detailed tutorial.
In the middle part and the chorus you’ll have to include some sophisticated kicks on the ride cymbal, but don’t worry about it. Start with the basic rhythm, gradually learn other parts you certainly won’t stop “half way there”.
9) Come As You Are by Nirvana
Nevermind was the album that introduced grunge to the mainstream. And “Come As You Are” has ever since been one of the favorite songs of rookie guitarists, because of its catchy guitar riff.
Apart from being a great pick for guitarists, it’s also a fine choice for drumming beginners. Dave Grohl didn’t complicate things too much here. He probably realized that the riff is so lively that drums shouldn’t overshadow it.
When you watch this “Come As You Are” cover, you’ll see that the verse mostly revolves around the bass drum, the snare drum and the ride cymbal, with occasional crash fills.
The chorus is a bit more complex, with some fills on the snare and transition on tom-toms, but you’ll get there eventually.
10) When the Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin
A traditional blues number from the 1920s, “When the Levee Breaks” was covered by Led Zeppelin and released on the Led Zeppelin IV album in 1971.
At that time John Bonham was one of the best drummers in the world and he played this song in his unique, laid-back way.
You begin the song with the bass drum, the hi-hat and the snare.
In this video lesson, you’ll learn how to play “When Levee Breaks” in basic terms and then you’ll see how to add some additional beats to the bass drum and the snare.
The numbers we’ve analyzed in this article are good songs to drum to if you’re only a beginner. You’ve most probably heard them many times, which means that you’re familiar with them. This makes them easier for you to drum along with.
When you’re beginning to play drums, it’s great to play songs that match your musical preference, as well as mixing it up with some other styles. So, combine the songs we’ve suggested with the ones you like most and you’ll have a great initiation into the world of drumming.
Also, if you don’t own an electronic drum set, it can be a great way to pick one up and practice songs like these.
What do you think, do you have any other suggestions for good beginner drum songs?