One of the best things about playing the drums is having the ability to turn on any song and jam along with it. Whether you’re into rock, jazz, blues, or country, there are so many songs out there that are fun to play and beneficial for improving your abilities.
Jamming along to any song may not be that easy for beginners. So, here is the perfect list of songs that are easy to play for drummers who recently started playing.
Table of Contents
- We Will Rock You – Queen
- Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
- Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
- Back in Black – AC/DC
- Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
- Feel Good Inc – Gorillaz
- Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson
- Freddy Freeloader – Miles Davis
- I Love Rock ’n’ Roll – Joan Jett
- Hold The Line – Toto
- Keys to Learning Songs
We Will Rock You – Queen
Queen was one of the biggest bands on the planet in the late 20th century. They produced so many classic songs that are still famous today with ‘We Will Rock You’ being of them. Thankfully, this world-famous song has one of the easiest drum parts to play.
Two kicks on the bass drum and then one hit on the snare. That’s it. It’s so simple yet so effective that Queen had entire stadiums playing this beat with their hands and feet. A lot of drum teachers get their beginner students to play this groove in their very first lesson. It sounds great and it’s a lot of fun to play.
This is always the song I use to explain to my students what a backbeat is. Since the drum part is so easy to play, it’s easy to understand that the snare drum falls on the backbeat every time. If my students are feeling confident with playing the whole song, I try introducing the hi-hat into the mix to make it a bit more interesting.
I’ve had so many friends sit on my drum kit and start playing this song from memory. None of those friends have been drummers. So, that just tells you how easy it is to play on the drums.
Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
Green Day’s popularity in the early 2000s is no secret. Their pop-punk sound was loved by so many angsty teens back in the day. Each one of their songs has great drum parts to learn and ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ caters well to beginners.
It’s a straightforward 8th note groove with one kick before the first snare and two kicks before the second. The chorus gets heavier and the drummer moves from the hi-hat to the crash cymbal. This will give beginners a bit of variety when playing to the song.
I clearly remember playing this song all the time in my early days of drumming. Green Day were one of mine and many other people’s favorite bands. I love that this song has a very clear demonstration of how verses are played softly while choruses are played loudly.
It gives beginner drummers a good entry into classic song structures and how the drums can enhance the effect of the chorus by moving their right hand to the cymbals.
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
‘Billie Jean’ has one of the most recognizable bass lines in the music industry. Along with that is a basic straight eighth groove that carries the whole track. What makes this song so good for beginners is the fact that the groove doesn’t change at any point.
You can sit and jam the same groove over and over and you’ll be perfectly supporting the track. The tricky part is how fast it is. It really drives, so you’ll need to practice your endurance and try not to slow down at any point.
I like to think of this as the song that keeps on giving. It’s a fantastic test for beginners to see how well they can play a straight eighth groove. It’s also a fantastic test for advanced players to see how long they can play a straight eighth groove for without adding unnecessary fills.
I always tell my students that this will be the song you’ll practice until the end of time. You’ll just practice it with different goals in mind over time.
Back in Black – AC/DC
Here’s a song for all the rock drummers out there. If you’d love to play something a bit heavier and grungier, ‘Back in Black’ is a classic. It has a solid straight eighth groove that drives it with a tricky fill at the end of every 4th bar that matches the guitar pattern.
When learning that fill, just memorize what the guitar plays and you should be able to match the rhythms with your hi-hat and snare drum.
I’m a huge fan of AC/DC, especially for the fact that most of their songs are quite easy for beginner drummers to play. If I ever get a drum student whose favorite style is rock, we always jump onto AC/DC songs as soon as possible.
‘Back in Black’ has proven to be the easiest song for my students to learn out of all the band’s tracks. It helps that it’s one of the most popular songs the band has put out. I’ve found that most people are already aware of the song structure.
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
‘Seven Nation Army’ is a great track for stretching your orchestration abilities as a drummer. This basically means that it will help you play grooves on the toms as well as the hi-hat. It’s easy to play because you just need to play straight quarter notes throughout most of the song.
It starts with the bass drum and floor tom driving along with the bass line. When the electric guitar starts playing in the chorus, you move your right hand over the crash cymbal and play a heavy quarter note groove.
One tricky part that the drummer does is she matches some offbeat patterns that the guitarist plays. You could try to do the same thing, but it wouldn’t make too much of a difference if you didn’t.
The intro bass line of this track is incredibly recognizable. I love seeing the reaction on my students’ faces when they hear that they’re about to learn how to play drums to it. I’ve found that the track is great for learning what four-on-the-floor patterns are on the drums.
Playing a kick drum on all four beats in a bar is something that you need to practice a bit to get used to, and I think that playing to ‘Seven Nation Army’ is one of the best ways of doing it.
Feel Good Inc – Gorillaz
Here’s a song that is seriously fun to play along with. The high tempo groove along with the rap in the track just makes it such a vibrant experience. The groove is a basic eighth-note beat with an offbeat bass drum just before the second snare.
The song has the same drum beat throughout, meaning you only have to worry about keeping up with the fast tempo.
Once my students are comfortable with playing ‘Billie Jean’, I often pull this song out as the next challenge. The eighth note groove you hear in this tune is incredibly popular in modern music, so it’s great for beginners to learn how to play it and become comfortable playing at a high tempo.
I used to play along with this song as much as I could when I was younger. I still find myself doing it occasionally.
Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson
If the previous songs on the list are a bit easy for you, ‘Uptown Funk’ is a great step up. This track was one of the biggest songs of 2015 and it continues to be an absolute classic today. It has some varying drum parts in the verses, pre-choruses, and choruses.
The verse has a straightforward eighth-note groove. The pre-chorus has a driving kick pattern followed by a build-up between the snare and floor tom. The chorus goes back to the driving eighth-note groove.
I feel that this song is a great example of what funk music is all about. Strong backbeats and driving kick drum patterns. I wouldn’t advise playing this if you haven’t nailed all the previous songs yet. However, I still think this is a great tune for beginners to try out.
My favorite part of the song is when you move your right hand from the hi-hat to the ride cymbal. You need to play the bell of the ride on all the offbeats, creating a funky disco pattern. I often use this song to teach that pattern to my students. I’ve found that this particular tune shows exactly how effective it can be in a song.
Freddy Freeloader – Miles Davis
As a beginner, you may want to start learning how to play some jazz. It’s a common assumption that jazz drumming is very difficult. Although that’s partly true, there are some tracks such as ‘Freddy Freeloader’ that are easy to simply swing along to.
If you can play the basic jazz swing pattern on the ride cymbal and close your hi-hat foot on beats 2 and 4, you can sit and play along to this track all day. It has a basic 12 bar pattern which makes it easy to follow along with, even when the solos are playing.
I love this song because it allows you to practice your swing patterns at a very moderate tempo. I also feel that it has a huge amount of potential. The great thing about jazz is that the drum parts aren’t limited.
You can start out by simply swinging with the song. As you get better at it, you can add it some extra snare drum or bass drum notes to make it a little more interesting.
I have a list of swing tunes to pull out when I’m teaching a beginner some jazz. ‘Freddy Freeloader’ is typically number one on that list.
I Love Rock ’n’ Roll – Joan Jett
This track is very similar to Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’. It has the same two kicks and one snare groove that is so effective. The one difference is that ‘I Love Rock ’n’ Roll’ has an odd time bar at the end of every phrase that can be a bit tricky.
As a beginner, odd time signatures are a great thing to start learning about. Most music is in 4/4 time, so it will feel a bit weird playing something different to that.
This song tripped me up for the longest time. I originally thought it would be a walk in the park with its basic eighth note beat. However, the one bar of odd time would always confuse the heck out of me. I eventually had to ask my teacher what was going on in the song and he explained how I had to keep counting to know where that odd time bar would fall.
Once I knew to do that, the song became a lot easier to play. I also feel like it set me up nicely to play odd time tunes in the future. I can very comfortably play most time signatures nowadays. But it all started with that one odd time bar in ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’.
Hold The Line – Toto
‘Hold The Line’ is undoubtedly the trickiest song to play on this list. However, the level of drumming is still attainable for beginners. It has a 12/8 groove with some varying bass drum patterns.
It’s a great track to develop the 12/8 shuffling feel on the drums. It’s quite a fast tune, so you’ll need to build up your endurance to keep the beat going.
There’s a particular hand technique in drumming called the Moeller method. You basically play 3 strokes with one arm movement. When I’m showing that technique to my students, I’ll often pull this song out to demonstrate how to apply the technique on the hi-hat.
I think it’s great for beginner drummers to learn this technique as early as possible as it opens hundreds of doors on the drums. Since the song is upbeat, you need to use the technique to comfortably play the hi-hat pattern.
It may take a while for you to get used to, but I definitely think that playing to this song is the best way of practicing that technique.
Keys to Learning Songs
The most important skill for any musician is having the ability to listen well. Before you play music, you need to listen to it. When you have great listening skills, you’ll notice how songs are easier to play along to. This is because you’ve listened to the track and you will know exactly what you need to add to it to make it better.
When learning a song, listen to it as much as possible before trying to play along with it. It will make the whole process a lot smoother. This is advice that drummers of all levels should follow.
Muscle memory is one of the biggest aspects of drumming. When you watch a pro drummer play, you’ll see that their hands just move and it doesn’t look like they’re even thinking about what they’re playing. This is because they’ve taken the time to develop their muscle memory with patterns on the drums.
You need to play parts of songs very slowly at first to develop that muscle memory that will help you later. Once you’ve played it slow, it will be easier to speed up the grooves and concentrate on supporting the songs.
Learning drum parts for songs can be frustrating at times. If you struggle with one thing and start getting frustrated, move onto something else, and then come back to it later. Drumming is one of the most fun things to do, so make sure to have fun while doing it.
It will be really rewarding once you’ve learned to play a song and you’re jamming it out. So, just remember to enjoy every part of the process.
There are a lot more songs out there than the ones on this list. Once you can play these, go find some more that you think you may enjoy. If they’re all easy for you to play, you may just be stepping into the intermediate category of drumming. It won’t get easier from there!
The best thing you can do as a beginner is to vary the types of songs that you play to. So, try to play some jazz, rock, and even country songs. You won’t regret it in the long run.