10 Basic Drum Beats for Beginners (The Essentials)

Learning to play the drums can be both fun and a bit intimidating at times. This article will showcase 10 basic drum beats for you to learn as a beginner. Once you get the hang of them, you can easily learn to play a lot of different songs, making your learning journey more satisfying.

Basic drum notation is a lot easier to read than many think. If you need to get a quick primer on this, then check out our easy article on how to read drum sheet music. We also have a reference image at the end of the article which might be useful.

Let’s get started!

1. 8th Note Rock

The 8th note rock beat is one of the world’s most important and popular drum beats. It’s also one of the most recorded drum beats, so you can only imagine how many songs you can play with just this first simple and easy drum beat.

2. 16th Note Rock

Similar to the 8th note rock beat, the 16th note rock beat has the same snare and kick drum position; the only difference is in the hi-hats, where you play the 16th notes. It’s also a very common drum beat and should be on the top of the list.

3. Samba Ostinato

Samba Ostinato drum beat is traditionally counted in two instead of four, and it’s one of the most important drum beats to learn when you are beginning. You might not find yourself playing to a lot of songs that use this drum beat, but it’s one of the best drum beats that you can use for practicing. It only requires a kick and hi-hat pedal, leaving both of your hands free to practice your strokes, rudiments, and so on.

4. 2 Beat Rock 

The 2 Beat Rock is also a very popular rock drum beat. Learning this one will help you keep good time as it requires you to listen carefully to the metronome. It’s a great drum beat for practicing. When you play this one, you should try to keep your hi-hat loose and really focus on the metronome.

5. 12/8 Groove

This is the first beat on the list that is not in 4/4 time signature. Practicing this one will be very important as it will open up a lot of different things you can do on the drums. In a 4/4 measure, there are four quarter notes in each beat. In 12/8, the beats are divided further.

6. The Beatle Beat

This one is called the Beatle beat because is the one that Ringo played on the hit song “In My Life.” It’s a very simple drum beat that sounds amazing by itself. Once you learn it, you should try to play along to the song.

7. Tom-Tom Beat

This one is basically the same as the 8th note rock beat, but instead of using the hi-hats, you play those notes on the floor tom. It’s a good example beat to make beginner drummers understand how one simple variation can change the whole feel and tone of a drum beat.

8. Hi-Hat Beat

The hi-hat beat is a great beat to learn so you can practice your “right-left” technique to the hi-hat. Start slowly and try to do it as fast as you can while keeping time.

9. Hi-Hat Upbeat

This drum beat will help you learn to play open and closed hi-hat as well as get you into ghost notes. Make sure to practice this one, as ghost notes are very important in some of the more complicated drum beats.

10. Accent Rock Beat

The last one on our list will combine the things we learned to create an awesome drum beat to practice ghost notes and hi-hat accent notes and help us learn to keep time correctly. Have fun with this one!

I have also included a drum notation legend for reference below:


Reading drum notation is not that hard, and once you have learned and practiced our 10 basic drum beats for beginners, you’ll be ready to tackle even more advanced beats and maybe come up with some of your own. Learning basic drum beats as soon as possible helps you further develop your drum skills and be more comfortable on the drums.

Mike O'Connor
Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

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