Grade 1 Level Drum Fills


Well done on getting this far! You’re certainly beyond the basics and if you can confidently work through the exercises below then we can safely say you’re well beyond grade 1 level on the drums. You’ll need Sheet Music Pack 4 for these exercises.

Time To Work

I would normally set my students ONE of these sheets per week. So don’t bite off more than you can chew! There’s some tricky little fills here. I’d suggest working on no more than one exercise per day.

Grade 1 Level Drum Fills #1 (G1031)

Have a play along with the exercises below and see how you get on! We’re incorporating everything we’re learned so far. We start off with the most classic 16th note based fill around the toms and progress from there. Watch out for the rests – you’ll need to do some careful counting to get this right! If you get stuck you might want to re-visit the counting tips exercises on this page.

Simple Drum Fill Exercises #1 [81]

Watch this video on YouTube.

Grade 1 Level Drum Fills #2 (G1032)

On exercise sheet G1032 you’ll notice some interesting groupings of the 8th notes on the bass drum. For example in bar 2 of exercise 1 and in bar 2 of exercise 3. Do you know why the first two bass drum 8th notes have flags on the stem and the last two are joined with a beam? This is since the first two 8th notes ‘cross the beat’. The first one is part of beat 1 and the second one is the start of beat 2. Normally we try not to have beams straddling the beat.

Simple Drum Fill Exercises #2 [82]

Watch this video on YouTube.

Grade 1 Level Drum Fills #3 (G1033)

Exercise sheet 3 (G1033) incorporates some more complex 16th note based rhythms and dotted notes. With practice you’ll develop a natural recognition of these rhythms just by glancing at them. If you get stuck have a play along with the video:

Simple Drum Fill Exercises #3 [83]

Watch this video on YouTube.

Grade 1 Level Drum Fills #4 (G1034)

On this sheet we’re going to practice moving around the kit a bit more. All single stroke sticking with the exception of exercise 5. This has a trick little sticking pattern at the end that’s great fun when you master it. We start off with your right hand working around the kit while your left hand does doubles on the snare. We then progress to a simple paradiddle at the end.

Simple Drum Fill Exercises #4 [84]

Watch this video on YouTube.

Grade 1 Level Drum Fills #5 (G1035)

Up until now your left foot hasn’t had much to do. We’re now going to continue with the slightly more complex fills while introducing your left foot as a ‘time keeper’ on the hi-hat.

Simple Drum Fill Exercises #5 [85]

Watch this video on YouTube.

Grade 1 Level Drum Fills #6 (G1036)

We’re bringing in a few extra elements on this exercise sheet, such as crash cymbals in bar 2 of exercise 1 and open hi-hats in exercise 2. We’ve got a nice ‘linear’ drum will in exercise 3. Exercise 5 is a bit of a tongue twister to finish up on. Watch the sticking – if you get it wrong you’ll tie yourself in a knot!

Simple Drum Fill Exercises #6 [86]

Watch this video on YouTube.

Grade 2 & 3 Exercises

As part of Sheet Music Pack 4 you’ll find a few taster exercises for grades 2 and 3. Give these a try as they’re good fun! Grade 1 is quite a big jump from the beginner material. The good news is that grades 2 and 3 aren’t such a big leap.

The 12/8 feel (G2901) is pretty simple – just think of faster groups of 3. So like a fast waltz and counted “One two three, Two two three, Three two three, Four two three”. Since we’re counting with 3 x 8th notes to a beat we end up using a dotted quarter note as the reference point for speed. Just think ‘bluesy feel’.

The Basic 2/4 March (G2902) is fairly simple. Nothing you haven’t already covered in the Rhythm & Rests exercises. Just watch out for the rolls in Exercise 3. These are played as 32nd notes.

The Basic Rhumba beats (G3901) are very similar to the March beats only with different accenting. Watch out for the triplets in Exercise 3! Work out your own sticking for these. Most people would do ‘LRL’ for the triplets, leading you on to a ‘R’ for the next 8th note.

Indie Rock is easy! 🙂

What Happens Next?

If you’ve worked your way through ALL of the exercises on this site congratulations and a massive WELL DONE! You’ve worked hard and should now understand the fundamentals of playing the drum kit. A whole world of playing is open to you now. You’re pretty much beyond beginner level now and are ready to move on to more advanced exercises. Here are a few bonus challenges for you:

  • Really work on progressing all of your rudiments, build speed and control of your singles, doubles and paradiddles. REALLY work on your double strokes as these can be the key to unlocking the remaining rudiments.
  • Work through some technique videos such as the Tommy Igoe Great Hands for a Lifetime DVDs – these are awesome for building speed and control behind the kit.
  • Have a go at some more advanced on-line tutoring sites
  • Keep checking back here for extra bonus exercises and material