Learning Drums

9 Easy Drum Songs to Play For Beginning Drummers

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So you just got a drum set and are looking to play along with some popular music. Look no further, as the songs listed below are by far the easiest songs to play on drums.

We’ve included a link to the song, a brief overview of the parts, as well as written drum notation to help you read the music each drummer was playing when they recorded the song.

We hope this list helps you play some of your favorite songs with ease!

Any of the drum notation referenced in this article is my own interpretation. The parts shown may not be the actual parts played by the drummers themselves. If you notice a variation on what you believe is correct, don’t chop my head off; it’s how I am hearing it. Thanks!

Drum Notation Key

1) White Stripes – ‘Seven Nation Army’

Without a doubt, Meg White’s drumming in ‘Seven Nation Army’ is by far the simplest and easiest to learn on the list. Who doesn’t remember hearing the four on the floor kick pattern all the time on the radio? There are only three main sections to be learned throughout in the song.

The intro begins with a four-bar rest, followed by a simple four on the floor kick and floor pattern, with hi-hat splashes. During the second half of the verse, we hear the entrance of the snare drum on beats two and four.

Verse Groove:

Verse Groove Add Snare:

Before the chorus hits, there is a simple two-bar pattern that begins with a crash and kick hit, followed by a floor tom build. This section leads us into the chorus which is a simple rock groove using the kick, snare, and crash cymbal.

During the second time through the groove, there are quarter note triplets that offset the groove momentarily.

Pre-Chorus Build:

Seven Nation Army Pre-Chorus Drum Notation

Chorus Groove:

Seven Nation Army Chorus Drum Notation
Seven Nation Army Chorus Drum Notation

If you can master these four sections, you will have learned the entire song. Seven Nation Army’ is by far one of the easiest songs to learn as a beginning drummer.

2) AC/DC – ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’

While the grooves in ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ are simple, they are also timeless and iconic. I have a high suspicion that you have heard this song before.

Phil Rudd’s groove is right in the pocket and it feels good. While you will be playing the same two grooves over and over for the majority of the song, it’s good for you!

Verse Groove:

You Shook Me All Night Long Verse Drum Notation

Chorus Groove:

You Shook Me All Night Long Chorus Drum Notation Part 1
You Shook Me All Night Long Chorus Drum Notation Part 2

Now it is an easy song to play, but don’t let undermine the value of the groove in this song.

If you’re already comfortable with the song, try to nail the feel. Really try your best to internalize the groove and fit into the pocket when you play along with this track.

Do not play on top of it. Instead, lay back and have a more relaxed vibe when you try to play this song.

3) The Police – “Every Breath You Take”

For a simple drum song, it doesn’t get much easier than Stewart Copeland’s part on The Police’s tune “Every Breath You Take.” The majority of the song follows the same kick and snare pattern, occasionally adding the right hand in on the hi-hat and ride cymbal.

Verse Groove:

Every Breath You Take Verse Groove

Hi-Hat Verse Groove Variation:

Every Breath You Take 2nd Verse Groove

4) The Who – ‘Eminence Front’

The Who’s ‘Eminence Front’ is one of my favorite songs of all time. Though it doesn’t have a crazy drum part (and Keith Moon isn’t on the track), it still captures my attention with an awesome feel and some of the coolest sounding keyboard parts of all time.

So far on the list, ‘Eminence Front’ is one of the slower groove compared to others, sitting at just 98 BPM. Even if you can’t master the introductory fill at :38, playing along to this song is rudimentary. There are little variations sprinkled throughout in the bass drum and hi-hat parts, but you’ll develop this over time.

Here’s the main groove:

Throughout the song, the groove builds, adding opening of the hi-hat before beats two and four, sixteenth subdivisions on the kick, and simple fills to lead into new sections.

5) Bon Jovi – ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’

Here’s another classic 80s jam. While the part is a little more intricate overall, it’s a great tune to learn for any beginning drummer. The song was released in 1986 on the Slippery When Wet album and is still heard to this day by many.

Like many on this list, ‘Livin’ An A Prayer’ features heavy use of the money beat—a simple drum pattern that utilizes eighth notes on the hi-hat, kick on beats one and three, and snare on beats two and four. The money beat is the most common drum pattern of Western pop music. 

Tico Torres crushes the beat on this album and it’s no wonder why this album became so successful. The chorus features the iconic quarter note bell groove.

Chorus Groove:

6) Nirvana – “Come As You Are”

In the 90s, grunge music was all the rage. The album Nevermind would introduce the world to a new style of rock music, very different from its hairband predecessors. In Nirvana’s tune, ‘Come As You Are’, Dave Grohl lays down a fantastically simple groove, especially in the verses.

The main voice element of the music bed is clearly the guitar riff, and the drums don’t step on it at all. The pre-chorus features an incredibly iconic sixteenth-note snare drum fill, probably one of the most fun drum fills you’ll enjoy playing as a beginner.

During the chorus sections, Dave uses a lot more energy in his playing and thus may require a lot of endurance for a new player, so keep that in mind.

Verse Groove:

Come As You Are Verse Drum Notation

7) Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean”

One of the most iconic songs of all time from the album Thriller, and one of the easiest tunes to play on the drums, is “Billy Jean.” Just like Livin’ on a Prayer, the tune is very repetitive and uses the quintessential money beat.

Main Groove:

Billie Jean drum notation main groove

8) U2 – “With or Without You”

Undeniably, another easy-to-learn tune is off the 1987 release The Joshua Tree from U2: “With or Without You.” Most of the song revolves around eight notes on the floor tom while laying down a solid backbeat on the snare drum. Make sure to start quietly and build as the song grows.

Verse Groove:

U2 With or Without You Verse Drum Groove

Verse Grove as the song builds:

U2 With or Without You Verse Drum Groove 2

The song gets more complex as it evolves, but as a beginner, take it slow and learn to play with dynamics throughout, playing softer in quieter sections and louder during the big parts.

9) The Pixies – “Where Is My Mind”

There are some challenging drum fills in The Pixies “Where Is My Mind.” Still, it’s a great song to jam along with as a beginner. The main groove is very repetitive and brings in the use of the hi-hat as an offbeat accent.

Main Groove:

Pixies Where is my Mind Drum Notation Verse

Hi-Hat Groove:

Pixies Where is my Mind Drum Notation Verse with hi-hat

Hopefully this list of easy drum songs has helped you start your drumming journey. If you have any questions, be sure to leave me a comment down below.

Featured image of Dave Grohl courtesy of Craig Carper via Flickr

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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