Learning to play the snare drum is all about learning to play rhythms steadily and on time. But one of the most enjoyable things you will ever do as you are developing your skills is learning how to play along to your favorite songs.
In this guide, we look at multiple snare drum songs for beginners. Cut your teeth on these.
“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
Song year: 2003
Technically, the above tutorial shows you how to play The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” on the snare drum and the kick drum. But the song is just so straightforward that it’s well worth practicing and learning for all beginner snare drum enthusiasts.
Decision makers and audiences alike initially groaned at the simplicity of this modern garage rock classic but eventually came to embrace it, especially in sports arenas, where it’s found a bit of a home for itself.
As a snare drum player, it’s important that you get basic rhythms under control, and “Seven Nation Army” represents a great opportunity to make that happen.
“The Imperial March” by John Williams
Song year: 1980
Every snare drum player eventually finds themselves wanting to learn this Star Wars classic, largely associated with the villain of the original trilogy, Darth Vader. Though it is, of course, emblematic of the Empire more generally.
I would not necessarily call “The Imperial March” the easiest groove to learn. Triplets are well worth studying, of course, but they can feel a little fast for beginners in this piece. Of course, you always have the option of starting slow and building up your speed.
“The Imperial March” is a musical theme well worth studying. Just don’t be surprised if it doesn’t come quick and easy.
“We Will Rock You” by Queen
Song year: 1987
Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is among one of their most recognizable tunes, thanks in part to its “stomp-stomp-clap-rest” rhythmic pattern. There are no drums in the original, leaving plenty of room for drummers to be creative in their interpretation.
The song features a very simple rhythm, one every drummer should practice hard. Remember – it’s not just about how easy a rhythmic pattern is – it’s also about how consistently and on time you can play it. So, remember to practice it with a metronome.
“Beat It” by Michael Jackson
Song year: 1983
Michael Jackson’s Thriller was certified Diamond in multiple countries across the world, including Canada, Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The album would not have been complete, however, without a hard rock tune.
“Beat It” is just what the doctor ordered, and it shone as the third single off Thriller.
The song features a relatively simple rock beat, with some subtle nuances that set it apart. While the video above shows you how to play it with a full drum kit, our recommendation would be to creatively adapt it to the snare.
“Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance
Song year: 2006
My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” kicks off with a lone piano and lead vocal. Then, as the song builds, the drums come in with a simple marching band pattern every snare drummer should know how to play.
The pattern is primarily made up of quarter notes and triplets, which are essential rhythms for beginners.
The song is ultimately meant to be played on a full kit, but there are plenty of rhythmic patterns throughout that are worth practicing on your snare.
“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon
Song year: 1975
Legendary session and studio drummer Steve Gadd played drums on Paul Simon’s second single from Still Crazy After All These Years. And the song is very identifiable for its repeating groove in the verses.
As you may have already guessed, the snare work on “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” is quite superb. While the song is intended to be played on a full kit, it is possible to adapt it to the snare drum, something we do recommend if you want to improve on that snare drum of yours.
“All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles
Song year: 1967
Having signed a contract to appear on Our World as Britain’s representatives, The Beatles were tasked with writing a song that would be easily relatable to listening audiences using simple language.
The band didn’t just want to make a “throwaway,” however, and “All You Need Is Love” delivered a strong, unmistakable message.
Every musician should add some Beatles to their repertoire, and it just so happens that “All You Need Is Love” features plenty of snare work.
“Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2
Song year: 1983
U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is among one of their most politically charged hits. With an aggressive guitar part and a militaristic drumbeat, the elements of the song work together to convey a sense of frustration, something The Edge was reportedly feeling as he was writing the song.
The snare pattern in this song is another essential for snare drummers. Again, because the original features a full kit, some creative interpretation will be par for the course. Have fun with it.
“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen
Song year: 1980
The disco-influenced “Another One Bites the Dust” remains a quintessential Queen classic. The song features a very simple but effective arrangement across the board – whether you’re looking at the drums, bass, or guitars.
The main thing this song will teach you is how to play and maintain a steady beat. This is something every drummer should be able to do, even if they aren’t playing disco or funk rock all the time.
How to adapt it to the snare drum is entirely up to you.
“Yellow” by Coldplay
Song year: 2000
Coldplay’s breakthrough hit, “Yellow,” features yet another essential modern rock drum groove every drummer should know how to play – and it’s perfect for practicing those notes.
The snare hits primarily happen on the two and four, but you may as well practice the eighth-note hi-hat pattern on your snare as well, to develop and hone your skills.
Coldplay singer Chris Martin revealed in 2011 that the song’s title holds no meaning. He was hunting for words to replace “Yellow,” but ended up keeping it because he never did find another word.
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
Song year: 1983
One of the happiest songs of all time (at least in my opinion), Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” features a relatively straightforward, repetitive beat, typical of new wave and synth-pop.
The drums simply act as the glue to hold everything together and aren’t there to be fancy or to add a rhythmic hook to the song.
To that extent, it makes for a great song for practicing simple beats and keeping time.
“Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie
Song year: 1974
When it comes to songs featuring great snare parts, we certainly can’t forget David Bowie’s rebellious and infectious glam rock classic, “Rebel Rebel.” The snare is played on every beat with some fills and added flare throughout, and as a result, the song is very snare driven.
Bowie would abandon his glam rock style and explore new musical horizons with subsequent releases like Young Americans, which adopted more of a blue-eyed soul aesthetic.
Overall, “Rebel Rebel” is a great song for learning how to keep a steady beat and stay on time.
“Gimme All Your Lovin’” by ZZ Top
Song year: 1983
ZZ Top’s “Gimme All Your Lovin’” is one of the most straightforward songs in existence, at least in terms of lyrical content and the drumbeat. Of course, guitarist Billy Gibbon’s playing was always a spectacle, and that goes for this track too.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the song is its music video, which was created around the time MTV was revolutionizing popular music.
The drumbeat is there to leave Gibbons with plenty of room to solo, jam, and experiment. As such, it’s very much like other drum grooves we’ve already looked at, except for some fills featuring more snare work.
“Come as You Are” by Nirvana
Song year: 1992
Nirvana’s “Come as You Are” is considered one of their easier songs to play, and that is the case for every instrument. And that’s one of the great things about drummer Dave Grohl’s approach – he was heavier and busier when he needed to be, and more laid back when called upon.
The snare pattern is basic, and overall, the beat doesn’t introduce anything we haven’t already looked at. That said, adapting it to your snare drum is probably where you’ll have some fun with “Come as You Are.”
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Song year: 1970
Creedence Clearwater Revival set the stage for plenty of artists and bands to come. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” features what most of us would consider a very simplistic rhythmic pattern throughout (something for musicians to fall back on when they don’t know what else to play).
The snare mostly occurs on beats two and four, which means your other hand will be free to play the eighth-note rhythm duplicating the hi-hat.
“Creep” by Radiohead
Song year: 1992
1992 was the perfect time for the release of an alt-rock / grunge song such as Radiohead’s “Creep,” even for a band that was a little ahead of its time.
“Creep” would become Radiohead’s most commercially successful single, but refusing to be pigeonholed, the band would deviate from the form with subsequent releases.
The song follows a relatively basic drum groove throughout. A perfect song for honing your snare drum chops.
“1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins
Song year: 1996
The Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” almost didn’t appear on the band’s third studio album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
Lead singer and songwriter Corgan, though, had a personal message he wanted to get across, and after spending four hours developing the song, producer Flood agreed that it needed to be on the album.
As one of the Pumpkins’ softer tunes, it features a simplistic beat matched to the content of the song.
Easiest Snare Drum Songs, Final Thoughts
You’ve got your work cut out for you. But most importantly, remember to have fun. Don’t sweat it if you can’t figure out certain songs the first time around. Come back to them as you keep improving on the snare drum.