Nothing is more important for a beginner drummer than practice material. With an abundance of the right exercises and songs to work on, one can learn and improve rather quickly.
It’s not always easy finding easy songs, mind you, because they are inevitably played by professional drummers.
Not to worry – because we’ve identified plenty of great songs in a variety of genres (rock, alt-rock, grunge, classic rock, pop, R&B, and more) you should be able to pick up and play without worrying about whether you can.
Here we’ll look at a bunch of easy drum songs for beginners.
“We Will Rock You” by Queen
Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is the ultimate rock anthem for the overcomer. In some ways it has been reduced to a sports arena singalong, but it’s always nice to remember a song for all the impact it had upon its initial release.
Technically, “We Will Rock You” is not a drum song at all. One of the reasons it became such a big hit is because of the stomp-stomp-clap motif. But this is relatively easy to reinterpret on the drums – kick-kick-snare, tom-tom-snare, whatever you like.
Also watch the video above for some inspiration. But assuming you’re following the general feel and keeping the rhythm, there’s no wrong way to play it. Fills are optional!
“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
Is The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” a modern alt-rock classic? Some seem to think so. Whether on the guitar or the drums, the song is relatively easy, and even beginners can pick up most if not all of it with a little practice.
The song begins with little more than kick stomps, and gradually builds up to kick and snare in the verses. This minimalism is what allows the song to explode in the chorus. For the most part, the song still remains simple, but there is some cymbal usage, so watch out for that.
“Come Together” by The Beatles
Some say Ringo Starr is a very basic drummer. But as with most blanket statements about The Beatles writing “simple songs,” it’s a vast oversimplification of the truth.
Starr is a tasteful drummer. He’s great at playing to the song. And many would find they would not be able to do what Starr can do without gaining significant skill and experience.
“Come Together” is a great example of his unique playing style. And it’s a great song to show you how to play across your kit.
“Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh
Best known as lead guitarist of the legendary Eagles, Joe Walsh has had a successful music career spanning five decades!
One of his most successful solo songs of all time is this – “Rocky Mountain Way.” For a drummer, it represents a great opportunity learn how to a keep slow, steady, swing beat while throwing in a few basic fills here and there.
“T.N.T.” by AC/DC
Through the decades, AC/DC has kept to a winning formula, rarely if ever deviating from catchy guitar riffs, hard-hitting drumbeats, and in-you-face vocals.
The explosive “T.N.T.” features a very basic drum beat from top to bottom. The verses are primarily supported by a lone, four on the floor kick, until the second verse where the snare is added in (do you think The White Stripes may have taken some inspiration from this number?).
The chorus features some cymbal hits and beat keeping with the hi-hats while the kick and snare are still going – a good technique for every beginner drummer to learn!
“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
When a song has a vaguely folky or country feel, it almost always ends up with a beat like the one heard on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising.” And let me tell you – some songwriters try to avoid it like the plague!
But there is no denying that it’s a good foundational beat for every newbie drummer to pick up. The kick-snare-kick-snare feel is carried through the entire tune.
Your non-snare hand may rotate through hi-hat, ride, or toms, but aside from that, it’s the same thing from start to finish, with a few simple fills thrown in for good measure.
“Beat It” by Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” has become legendary for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it’s a killer song with a killer riff. It would not have gotten that treatment if not for legendary session player and Toto guitarist Steve Lukather.
But it doesn’t stop there, because while it wasn’t widely publicized at the time, the guitar solo was played by none other than Eddie Van Halen – the man responsible for forever altering the way the guitar is played.
Jackson was after nothing but “killer” songs on Thriller, so it’s no surprise all elements were kept simple, to leave plenty of breathing room for Jackson’s vocals, instrumental hooks, and the like.
“Beat It” features a strong kick-snare-kick-snare vibe from start to finish, which is exactly what gives it its strong backbone. There are some cymbal hits and fills too, though, so watch out for those.
“Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen
In an era when disco music was dominating the airwaves, drumbeats were necessarily tight and straight, forming the foundation over which other instruments could add rhythmic, percussive, and melodic flare.
Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust,” not surprisingly, features a crisp kick-snare-kick-snare attack with a steady rhythm on the hi-hat. With the song being so minimal in other ways, this beat is really what makes the song. If you don’t believe me, have a listen for yourself!
“Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty
Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” will forever live on as the ultimate campfire breakup song. As is the case with most Tom Petty (and cohort) tunes, it barely has three chords to rub together and yet it’s catchy, memorable, and emotionally impacting.
The drums are likewise simple, holding down a simple beat over which the various guitars can float on top. Hold down a steady eighth-note pattern on the hi-hat while adding the kick on the 1 and the 2 &, while hitting the snare on the 2 and 4.
If you can’t quite figure it all out at once, start with just the kick and snare and then add the hi-hat in when you feel comfortable with the rest.
“Back in Black” by AC/DC
AC/DC’s ultimate comeback anthem “Back in Black” is as relevant today as it was upon its initial release. With a classic blues-rock vibe, the song features some superb guitar work.
The beat? Tight, crisp, and straight as an arrow. The hard-hitting kick-snare-kick-snare performance on the drums is exactly what the song needed to become a rock classic.
There are some fills and cymbal hits, though, so if you’re having any trouble with this one, slow it down, simplify, and keep practicing until it becomes second nature.
“Yellow” by Coldplay
Coldplay’s “Yellow” may well be the ultimate romantic alt-rock ballad of the early 2000s. In the verse, it features a variation on the classic kick on 1 and snare on 3 style beat, where the kick is played on 1 and 2 rather than just 1. Variations like these are great for beginners to process.
The intro / interlude part sounds heavier thanks to the open hi-hat and features a slightly different kick and snare pattern as well.
“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
I’ve often felt that Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” has one of the happiest riffs of all time. It’s like summer, rainbows, and puppy dog love all rolled into one!
Since the original clearly leverages a drum machine, you can keep the beat to this tune about as simple or as hard as you want. The video tutorial is a great starting point for beginners. Just work on keeping a steady beat and you can’t go wrong.
“The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King
The blues is a soulful genre with a lot of feel. And when it comes to guitarists with feel, the legendary B.B. King inevitably comes up.
“The Thrill Is Gone” has more of a straight vibe than a swung feel, though, so that makes it a relatively simple song, even for a beginner, to pick up.
Do watch out for those fills, though, because there are quite a few of them.
“Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie
David Bowie may not have considered himself a guitarist, but as a singer and multi-instrumentalist, he obviously knew what sounded good and what worked for him. “Rebel Rebel,” though, is a prime demonstration of his knack for simple but killer, catchy guitar riffs.
You get to start this one off with some stick clicks followed by snare hits on 1, 2, 3, and 4, as well as rolls every few bars. This is a great song for picking up some new snare techniques.
“Come as You Are” by Nirvana
Dave Grohl may well be one of rock’s hardest hitting drummers, but he’s always tasteful, and more subdued where necessary.
There are many theories as to what “Come as You Are” was about, with one of the most benign being that songwriter, guitarist, and singer Kurt Cobain was declaring open arms to everyone in the world, regardless of who they were or where they came from.
Mystery notwithstanding, the song primarily utilizes the kick, snare, ride, and crash. The tutorial above breaks it all down for you one piece at a time.
“Gimme All Your Lovin’” by ZZ Top
“Gimme All Your Lovin’” is one of blues-rock outfit ZZ Top’s catchiest. They may be known best for guitarist / vocalist Billy Gibbon’s tasteful and masterful fretwork, but the band wouldn’t be what it is without the rhythm section.
And in “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” drummer Frank Beard lays down one of the steadiest beats you’ve ever heard. There are a few simple fills in there to keep things interesting though.
“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” is a great tune for beginners to learn because of the many variations it features on the typical kick on 1 and snare on 3 style beats.
As with most CCR, it’s a simple song from start to finish, but the drum part should offer a nice little challenge.
“Creep” by Radiohead
Radiohead’s signature tune “Creep” echoes a sentiment often heard in music throughout the 90s – that of being an outsider, outcast, or a loser. And it may well be one of the most iconic alt-rock tunes of its kind.
There are a lot more kick hits in the verse groove than you might expect to find in your average rock tune. But that’s part of what makes it worth practicing.
The song builds quite a bit in the chorus, but on the drums, for the most part, it’s just a matter of transitioning from the hi-hat to the ride.
“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
Another full-blown hit from the 1982 blockbuster, Thriller, “Billie Jean” features the kind of beat you might expect to hear in a disco tune, something Jackson was starting to distance himself from at the time.
The minor key riffing makes the song moodier and darker than his earlier works, though, which is another theme that rings true with Thriller.
Listen to the beat and you will find that it’s one of the steadiest you’ve ever heard. It should not prove challenging, but it is an excellent tune for developing your internal metronome.
“1979” by Smashing Pumpkins
The nostalgic “1979” showed the Pumpkins tapping into a very different musical sensibility compared to their earlier, heavier, grungier, alt-rock oriented works. This song sounds kind of happy in its own way!
Its beat is very standard rock. And while its tempo might feel a little fast for a beginner, if you start slower and gradually work your way up to original tempo, this one should be a shoo-in for your repertoire.
“All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow
The lyrics to Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do” was based on a poem by Wyn Cooper, so there’s more to it than meets the eye. Of course, most people remember it for the catchy refrain “’Cause all I wanna do is have some fun / I got a feeling I’m not the only one.”
The song clearly needed a steady, tight, straightforward groove, and that’s exactly what it got.
“Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day
Green Day will always be remembered best for their punk rock-oriented tunes. But through the years, they’ve certainly tried their hand at a few different types of songs, incorporating elements of folk and bluegrass, pop, rock opera, and more.
At the time of its release, “Wake Me Up When September Ends” was one of their most pop oriented numbers.
The song shows some sophistication in terms of groove, but if you’ve managed every other song in this guide, this one should not prove too difficult for you either.
“Honky Tonk Woman” by The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stone’s “Honky Tonk Woman” kicks off with the drums. As the guitars join in, the drums continue to hold down a steady backbone beat for the rest of the band.
Every drummer should aspire to learn basic rock grooves like this one.
“Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi
By the mid-80s, rockers had taken over the airwaves, and pop oriented “metal” songs were also being pumped out like nobody’s business. Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” successfully appealed to both sensibilities.
With epic synthesizers, talk box guitars, and over the top vocals, this song is easily one of Bon Jovi’s most remembered. Large chunks of it are simply made up of a kick-snare-kick-snare motif, with a steady hi-hat.
“Highway to Hell” by AC/DC
AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” demonstrates exactly what rock drumming is all about – keeping a steady groove.
Things get a little more exciting as you move into the chorus, but the verses feature a very basic pattern every drummer should master.
“Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson’s signature “Since U Been Gone” features what sounds like a drum machine in the verses and live drums in the chorus. Not surprising, then, that the beat isn’t that hard to pick up. After all, what are drum machines there to do except to keep the beat?
“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” by Billy Joel
Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” opens with a four on the floor kick and doesn’t build into more until the second verse. The groove remains simplistic throughout the song, although there are some fast fills that may take some getting used to.
“Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry
For those who love pop music, picking up the beat to Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold” should prove a relatively straightforward endeavor. As you may have guessed, it features a very strong kick-snare-kick-snare kind of vibe you’ve heard in tons of songs.
“Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis Presley
Elvis “The King” Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” was an important song in a lot of ways. Rock and roll was effectively the bridge between rockabilly and rock and this song epitomizes the sound.
In the verses, the drum part is basically comprised of hits and shots as opposed to a steady beat. This teaches you a different way of approaching the drums. The chorus, however, does feature a steady beat you should be familiar with by now.
“Stayin’ Alive” by Bee Gees
The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” is undeniably one of their most famous. While it is timeless in its own way, it was also a product of its time – featuring many of the tropes you’d expect from a disco / funk tune of the era.
As noted earlier, drumbeats for these types of tunes were necessarily straightforward, forming the critical backbone around which other instruments could enjoy more freedom – guitar, bass, strings, keys, and more. This should prove a great song to hone your skills with.
“All Right Now” by Free
Free’s 1970 hit “All Right Now” is simply infectious. The song was apparently written by bassist Andy Fraser and singer Paul Rodgers. Ironically, it was written after a bad gig in Durham, as the band recognized the need for a rocker in their set list.
You should find the verse sections very familiar. There are some snare hits and fills to watch out for, but this song can be a ton of fun once you’ve gotten the hang of these.
“Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd
“Comfortably Numb” is one of Pink Floyd’s most recognizable, and one of the things that makes it stand out is its two guitar solos and epic six-minute plus runtime.
Obviously, learning any song of this length can take some work. The good news is the groove is quite slow and straightforward. This is a great song to tackle once you’ve got some of the fundamentals down.
“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers
For the opening notes of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” the drummer is simply keeping time with the hi-hat. The drums gradually build towards the chorus, but even in their fully built state are basically only there to hammer home a tight, steady beat.
This is a great song for beginner drummers to take on.
“She Sells Sanctuary” by The Cult
The dizzying tempo of “She Sells Sanctuary” may seem a little intimidating at first, but rest assured, the drumbeat is basically the same rock groove you’ve heard many times over. Plus, the video tutorial above slows things way down to ensure you can pick it up without cause for concern.
“Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.
It feels to me as though R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” could have been a much heavier song considering its subject matter (“losing my religion” being a southern idiom to describe someone losing their civility or temper). It became a big hit anyway, though, so who am I to criticize?
The beat is very straightforward for the most part, but don’t miss those simultaneous snare and tom hits in the verses.
“Addicted To Love” by Robert Palmer
Everyone should learn to play 80s style rock grooves, right? Why, yes, especially when they are simple as they are in “Addicted To Love!” The only thing to watch out for is the opening and closing of the hi-hat.
“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett
In “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” the drumbeat is basically complementing, emulating, and supporting the hand claps.
You may never have noticed this before, but this tune is mostly minimalist with plenty of breathing room. There are even long stretches of rests for the guitar, which is arguably the main instrument.
The beat also has some things in common with Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” which we looked at earlier.
“With Or Without You” by U2
U2’s “With Or Without You” has enjoyed second and third lives thanks to its inclusion in hit TV shows like Friends.
This emotionally evocative tune is moody and atmospheric, thanks to Brian Eno’s synthesizers and The Edge’s delayed guitars.
The bass is just playing four notes over and over, and the drums remain very straightforward, especially early in the song. There is a little more to the beat as the song builds, though, so be sure to practice these parts as well.
“Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison’s trademark tune was undoubtedly “Oh, Pretty Woman.” It certainly helps that bands like Van Halen gave it a second life. Originally released in 1964, the song kicks off with those infamous snare hits (complemented by steady eighth-notes on the hi-hat).
While this same beat makes up large chunks of the song, the beat grows in sophistication in the section starting with “Pretty woman stop awhile…” It’s well worth learning this part, but you should probably master some simpler songs first before challenging it.
“Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor
The early 80s hard rock of “Eye Of The Tiger” certainly found resonance with the 1982 sports drama Rocky III. But the song was just so good that it lived on in pop culture, and it still receives huge amounts of radio airplay, even today.
Undergirding the staccato guitars is a back to basics, backbone drumbeat that holds the entire song together in perfect order.
“Live Forever” by Oasis
Once thought of as the modern Beatles, Oasis certainly made a splash with their music in the 90s and 00s. “Live Forever” Is one of their slightly deeper cuts, though it is well loved by fans.
The song has a moderate tempo, which certainly helps with learning how to play it. It is a little busier than your average drumbeat, though, so it would be well worth picking up a few basic beats before attempting this one.
Easy Drum Songs For Beginners, Final Thoughts
Playing the drums builds a strong foundation in rhythm that can transfer over to a variety of instruments. You can always tell when a drummer is playing the guitar, for instance, because their approach to the instrument is more rhythmic than the average guitarist.
The number one thing to work on, especially in the early stages, is your timing and tempo. If you can lock in and keep it steady, you’ll be praised for your ability to “glue” a band together.
If all you can do is play fancy paradiddles and frantic sextuplets, but can’t keep time, you’ll probably have a hard time finding a steady gig.
So, work on that rhythm, and think musically, not just rhythmically!