Learning Drums

22 Essential Drum Warm-Up Exercises for Beginner Drummers

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As a beginner, you may be wondering what to focus on to improve your drumming quickly. Before each session, it’s always a good idea to get your hands moving and warmed up. And even if you’ve played for a long time, it’s always good to brush up on your sticking.

It takes constant and consistent practice to be an excellent drummer. Drum exercises are straightforward and easy-to-remember warm-ups that are simple to implement into a warm-up routine. They help improve drumming technique and strengthen weak areas of playing.

The drum exercises explored in this article are great for both beginners and advanced drummers. After practicing these drum exercises, your speed, independence, and control will improve.

If you’re unfamiliar with drum notation, be sure to take some time to learn about reading drum sheet music prior to learning these exercises.

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Drumming, like many other physical activities, requires that you warm up your muscles to encourage your limbs to work in coordination. Although drum warm-up exercises vary in difficulty, you should concentrate on the ones that match your skill level.

Notation key

Drum notation key

Learn basic rudiments first

Drum rudiments are the building blocks for all beats, drum fills, or patterns you can play on the drum set. They can also be seen as drum patterns which can be developed into more complex drum patterns.

Rudiments can be learned on one surface, like a drum practice pad. Learning rudiments will aid you in innovation on the drum kit when you’re ready to create your own patterns, grooves, and fills.

To start, we’ll go over some basic rudiments and exercises. Be sure to use a metronome and repeat each phrase multiple times at slow speeds and move up to quicker tempos when you’re comfortable and are playing each perfectly in time.

1) Single stroke roll

Single Stroke Roll Drum Exercise Warm-up Notation

The Single Stroke Roll is performed using simple alternating single strokes: RLRL.

All strokes should be played at an even volume, and the sticks should reach an even height when they come up for each stroke.

After practicing this on a pad, you can move on to the kit and then play with a metronome with a higher tempo. This will help to increase your speed and endurance.

It is recommended that you practice this rudiment in front of a mirror so you can watch your hands properly.

2) Alternating lead hand single-stroke roll

Alternating lead hand single-stroke roll drum exercise warm-up notation

A variation of the single strike roll is the Alternating Lead Hand exercise. Take this one slow and be sure to use a metronome, raising the BPM by five when played consistent. This exercise implements the paradiddle, so if you haven’t learned that rudiment yet, skip ahead!

3) Eights

Eights drum warm up notation

Eights may seem elementary, but I promise, it’s one of the best warmups for your practice pad routine. Put on your favorite tunes and start hammering away at those rights and lefts! It’s a simple, yet effective first warm up of the day.

4) Double stroke roll

Double stroke roll warm up notation

To start, use your wrists for each stroke and keep both alternating strokes at an even volume.

Ensure that the heights of the stick during each stroke come up to an even distance from the drum head to avoid an uneven and sloppy sound.

After mastering, speed it up. With constant practice, you will be able to bounce the sticks to get double strokes and play with higher speed.

The double stroke roll forms the foundation for a lot of other necessary drum rudiments and is popularly used within beats and fills.

Double stroke roll notation for weaker hand

When you’ve mastered the double stroke roll with your dominant hand, switch to leading with your weaker hand. In my case, my weaker hand is my left.

5) Singles and doubles

Double stroke roll drum exercise warm-up notation

Combine the two! This exercise gets your brain used to the idea of switching between singles and doubles. This is one of the most important patterns you can implement into your warm ups.

6) Inverted double stroke roll

Inverted double stroke roll drum exercise notation

Inverting the double stroke roll gives us a fantastic variation that really works out our wrists. Start with this one, slow, again.

If you’re up to the challenge, you can try combining exercises 3 and 4 together. Be sure to take this one really slow at first.

7) Combined double stroke roll

Double stroke roll and inverted double stroke roll combination warm-up notation

Combining exercises three and four yields a fantastic practice pad warm up with a challenge: three right stickings in a row, which really works out your wrists and primes us for the triple-stroke roll.

Again, you can reverse the sticking as you get more comfortable, but I’d suggest this only if you’re an advanced player.

8) Single paradiddle

Single paradiddle drum exercise notation

At its core, the paradiddle is RLRR or LRLL. We then combine these two to compete the pattern. Take this one slow and for learning, accent the each beat as shown above.

When you’ve mastered the dominant hand sticking, switch to your weak hand.

Single paradiddle left hand lead notation

The paradiddle can be played within grooves, drum fills, and solo patterns. It combines both single strokes and double strokes.

9) Paradiddle diddle

Paradiddle diddle warm up exercise rudiment notation

Begin with a single paradiddle: RLRR or LRLL. After the paradiddle, add a diddle, which is a double stroke with your weaker hand. So, for example, if you started with RLRR, follow it with a quick LL stroke.

This exercise can be challenging, but is one of my favorite tools for employing on the drum set across different drums and cymbals.

Once comfortable, practice the paradiddle diddle with your weaker hand. Once again, go slow at first and be sure to use a metronome. Next, we’ll combine the two.

10) Alternating lead hand paradiddle diddle

Alternating lead hand paradiddle diddle notation

By combining the right and left hand variations of the paradiddle diddle, we can create a sort of groove that is perfect for warming up with a metronome. Try this one out and take it slow!

11) Paradiddle 7s

Paradiddle 7s Warm Up Exercise Notation

The paradiddle 7 exercise is something me and my colleagues used to use for warming up all the time at university. It combines the paradiddle and paradiddle-diddle into an odd-time phrase in 7/4. Skip this one for now if you’re a beginner, unless you want a serious challenge.

12) Double paradiddle

Double paradiddle notation

This fun rudiment is a 12-note pattern often used in a 6/8 or 12/8 feel, or in beats and fills that have a triplet feel. It is perfect for styles like jazz or Latin.

The only difference between this rudiment and the single paradiddle is that you play four alternating single strokes rather than two.

Double paradiddle left hand lead notation

You start with four alternating singles leading into a double and repeat the pattern leading with the opposite hand. This will give you a 12-note rudiment.

I will say, while this is a great rudiment for warmups, I rarely use this sticking combination when in my vocabulary (maybe I should!).

13) Flam Tap

Flam Tap Drum Rudiment Warm Up

The flam tap starts out with a right-handed flam and right-handed single stroke. You will then repeat the pattern using the left hand by playing a left-handed flam followed by a left-handed single stroke.

The double stroke pattern will repeat in the second half of the measure. Your focus while playing the double strokes is perfect timing. The flam strokes added should not affect the main strokes’ timing.

14) Flam Tap 7s (Max’s Pad Groove)

Flam 7s Warm up drum exercise notation

Here’s a great warmup based off the flam tap. Back in college, we called this one “Max’s Pad Groove,” after our good friend Max who came up with it. Keep it slow, and you’ll be a master of flam taps in no time.

15) “Wipeout” Warmup

Wipeout Warmup

Who didn’t learn how to play Wipeout by The Surfaris? I can recall being in the band room in grade six trying to impress my friends with how fast I could play the tune.

There’s an awesome warm up that was originally published on Drum Articles — sadly, the website no longer is online.

It incorporates single, double, and triple paradiddles. If you don’t know how to play paradiddles, I suggest learning, as they’re some of the most versatile rudiments you’ll use while playing.

Try it out for yourself. Start slow.

Switching between single, double, and triple paradiddles is challenging at first, so be sure to practice along with a metronome. Start around 60BPM if you’re new to the rudiment.

16) New Mojo

New Mojo snare drum warmup Cavaliers notation

One of my favorite warmup exercises I learned when in college is New Mojo from the Cavaliers. It’s based off sixteenth and triplet diddles. Any time you see a note with a dash through it, play two notes instead of the one (an eight note triplet becomes two sixteenth note triplets).

17) Singles with kick and hi-hat

Singles with kick and hi-hat notation

The first drum set exercise begins with the feet playing eighth notes alternating while using your hands to play the sixteenth notes on the snare drum.

18) Doubles with kick and hi-hat

Doubles with kick and hi-hat notation

Although the second exercise sounds just like the first one, you will have to play it differently. As in the first exercise, your feet are playing the same eighth note pattern, and your hands are playing the sixteenth notes on the snare.

However, you will have to play doubles back and forth instead of alternating on every stroke. Doing this will change the line up of your hands with your feet.

The focus will be on playing the first stroke of the right hand along with the right foot. Same applies for the left hand and left foot.

19) Alternating 16th and 32nd notes

Alternating 16th and 32nd note warm up exercise notation

When playing this third exercise, the first half begins just like the first exercise. However, when you get to its second half, the single strokes will change to double strokes at twice the tempo.

Be careful not to play the double strokes the same way you played in the second exercise.

20) Snare drum independence kit warm ups

Snare drum independence kit warm up 1
Snare drum independence kit warm up 2
Snare drum independence kit warm up 3
Snare drum independence kit warm up 4
Snare drum independence kit warm up 5
Snare drum independence kit warm up 6
Snare drum independence kit warm up 7
Snare drum independence kit warm up 8

Snare drum independence is the ability to play snare drum rhythms that are different from the patterns performed by the other parts of your limbs.

Start off just by playing the patterns of the first bar, and introduce the kick drum of bar two when you’re comfortable.

21) Basic fill warm up

Drum fill warm up notation

This next warm-up uses the pattern of the first exercise while moving it around the toms. In this two-bar exercise, the first measure moves down the toms, while the second moves back up.

22) Bass drum work out

If you want to get quick with your foot, don’t sleep on this exercise. Force yourself to play your kick drum perfectly in time. This one is challenging. And if you want to work out your double bass chops, substitute your left foot during the second bar.

Playing faster is a matter of disciplined practice

Speed is required if you want to fly around the drum kit as a drummer. The best way to do this is firstly by improving your hand technique. Set up your drums in a way that makes it easier for you to reach everything easily, as well.

Increase your speed gradually while practicing each exercise, and always keep your muscles relaxed. If you’re first reading these today, you most likely don’t yet have the muscle memory yet, and will fall apart when speeding up.

You can also try using heavier drum sticks with a practice pad. I wouldn’t rely too heavily on this, but it is a way to work your hands out.

Most of these exercises focus on the synchronization of hand to feet with both single and double stroke rolls. When you are learning using basic patterns, it is best to play these warm-up exercises along with a metronome.

When practiced consistently for 1 or 2 weeks, these simple exercises will increase your speed and boost your overall stamina.

And if these aren’t enough for you, I highly recommend checking out Drumeo Edge, the world’s best online drum education platform.

Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.

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