Beginner drum lessons sheet music / Music lessons
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Beginner drum lessons sheet music

Drum Lessons LogoWant to be able to play drum beats and fills from standard drum notation? You need to learn the art of reading sheet music. Let's start by reviewing the different symbols used to indicate the various elements of the drum set.

Playing the Hi-hats

The hi-hats are marked just above the top line of the measure with a simple "x" symbol. The image below shows four hi-hat strokes. These are to be played with a drumstick while the hi-hats are closed the entire time (using your left foot on the hi-hats pedal).

You can also play the hi-hats with the foot alone. In other words, instead of hitting them with a drumstick - you use your foot to open and close the hi-hats. This is marked on sheet music with the following "x" symbols below the last line of the measure.

Playing the Ride Cymbal

The ride cymbal is similar to the hi-hats in that it is often used in drum beats as a method of keeping steady time. In fact, most all beginner-to-intermediate rock beats have steady strokes on either the hi-hats or the ride. So, with that in mind - you'll notice that the ride also uses an "x" symbol for drum notation.

Above you can see that the ride cymbal is actually played on an imaginary line above the measure. The small line segments in the middle of the "x" make the symbol look like a star, but mentally you should see this as an "x" sitting on a line.

These stokes would be played with a drumstick on the "bow" of the ride cymbal. This is the part between the edge and the bell - the largest surface. While some heavy rock tunes may require you to crash the ride cymbal (by playing the edge) - you will find that it typically sounds better to play the bow.

Playing the Snare Drum

The snare drum is the most important part of any drum set. It is a vital part of virtually any drum beat, and is the foundation of the rock back-beat. Here is how drum sheet music indicates a regular snare drum stroke (played with a stick hitting the middle of the drum).

As you can see, the snare drum is marked with a simple note on the middle line of the staff. Some books will put this in the second space, but this simpler system makes it easier to differentiate the snare drum from other tom toms (as you will soon see). For now, just keep in mind that the snare drum is in on the middle line.

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