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How to play a Drum Fill - Free Beginner Drum Lesson

Hi everyone and welcome back to Hackney Wick Drum Studio for another free Drum Lesson for beginners. Todays lesson is all about building simple Drum Fills or Drum Rolls and is a perfect follow on from all the previous exercises we've been looking at. It also nicely rounds off the 'Beginner' section of these free Drum Lessons.

If you've looked at last weeks lesson, you'll know that we were using the different note values we've been learning to form basic grooves using the Hi-Hat, Snare and Kick drum.

Todays approach is exactly the same, but now we'll be playing a simple drum fill using the note values we've looked at so far; Quarter Note, Eighth Note, Eighth Note Triplet and Sixteenth Note.

Take a look at the sheet music below and you straight away see the similarities between this and what we've looked at so far. The first bar of each line is the groove we learned in last weeks lesson, but it's the second bar we'll be focusing on today.

It may also be handy to first check out my Drum voices on the stave lesson, because as you can see, the notes in the second bars of each line are on different parts of the stave. Take a minute to look back over these so you've got a good understanding of which parts of the kit we'll be using in todays lesson.

Let's start by taking a look at the video of todays Drum Lesson, played at 60 BPM and then we'll start to break it down from there.



By this point you'll already be comfortable with playing the groove in the first bar and also with our different note values. So what we're playing in the second bar is is simply a Quarter note on the Snare Drum on beat 1, a Quarter note on Tom1 for beat 2, Quarter note on Tom2 for beat 3 and finally, a Quarter note on the Floor Tom for Beat 4.

As with all Quarter notes, these strikes want to fall exactly on top of the click, so practice them on their own first until you get your timing exactly right, then try it with the 1 bar Quarter note groove before it. Once you're happy with this, keep repeating these 2 bars over, making sure you've got a nice even flow between the groove bar and the fill bar.


Now let's look at the second line of the exercise. Like before, try playing the fill part first until you're comfortable moving between each drum in time with the click.

1& on the Snare Drum, 2& on Tom1, 3& on Tom2 and 4& on the Floor Tom. Make sure these are as even as possible, so you get a nice even flow between each drum. You can always reference the video above, or have a look back at the Eighth Note Lesson. It's exactly the same principle and timing, only now we're moving it around different parts of the Drum Kit.


As with the previous Triplet lesson, this is probably the hardest of the four to master. The two parts that make it tricky are keeping it even and the switch of the leading hand between each beat. Starting with the Snare Drum, we're simply going to be playing a Triplet on each Drum around the kit. 1-trip-let on the Snare, 2-trip-let on Tom1 (this is where it'll switch to your left hand leading), 3-trip-let on Tom2 and 4-trip-let on the Floor Tom (again, a left hand lead). Practice this nice and slowly at first and make sure that each Triplet is as smooth and as even as possible.


This will probably be the most used of the four drum fills. It sounds super impressive when played at speed and every top drummer in the world will still base the majority of their drum fills and solos around this simple to learn exercise. Just as we learned in the previous Sixteenth Note lesson, we'll be playing four Sixteenth notes per beat. 1e&a on the Snare Drum, 2e&a on Tom1, 3e&a on Tom2 and 4e&a on the Floor Tom. As before, try and keep it as smooth as possible and your transitions from Drum to Drum nice and clean.


Once you've mastered it, try mixing it up a little. Theres no rule to say you have to start on the Snare Drum and move around the kit from left to right. Maybe start on the Floor Tom and play the fill in reverse, or try the drums in a different order. Theres no right or wrong here, if it sounds good to you, then play it.

Now you're starting to get creative on your own, you've mastered the beginner section of these free Drum Lessons. Keep experimenting with different ideas and keep practicing. You could also have a look at the sheet music for my Snare Drum Practice lesson. Rather than playing it all on the Snare Drum, trying moving it around the Toms and see what sorts of patterns you can create. You'll start to see that the possibilities are endless!!

Thanks for checking out another free Drum Lesson with me here at Hackney Wick Drum Studio. If you're looking for a Drum Teacher in East London, get in touch and come down and check out the Studio. Alternatively, I'm now offering online Drum Lessons, so wherever you are in the world, get in touch if you like what you see and take your Drumming to the next level.

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