Playing along to songs is an essential part of learning the drums. It’s great for developing your time keeping and above all it’s fun! I always recommend playing along to a couple of your favourite tunes as part of your practice session. But where do you start? How do you know what you can and can’t play along to when you’re at beginner level? Well here’s a list of classic songs to get you started – there’s a wide range of song speeds (tempo / BPM) to cover most abilities at beginner level. Start slowly and work your way up.
Most of these will work with a bog standard Straight 8’s beat – feel free to throw some variations in as your playing advances. Please also have a read of the extra information under this song list, for now have fun and happy drumming!
Beginner Level Songs to Play on Drums
|BPM||Title||Performed By||Beat Type|
|64||Comfortably Numb||Pink Floyd||Straight|
|67||Knockin on Heaven's Door||Guns n' Roses||Straight|
|69||Rocket Man||Elton John||Straight|
|75||Hey Jude||The Beatles||Straight|
|77||Don't Speak||No Doubt||Straight|
|78||Blaze of Glory||Bon Jovi||Straight|
|86||Bitter Sweet Symphony||The Verve||Straight|
|88||Epic||Faith No More||Straight|
|90||Back in Black||AC/DC||Straight|
|98||Sweet Home Alabama||Lynyrd Skynyrd||Straight|
|110||Another One Bites the Dust||Queen||Straight|
|110||Walk This Way||Aerosmith||Straight|
|115||Highway to Hell||AC/DC||Straight|
|117||Billy Jean||Michael Jackson||Straight|
|118||Every Breath You Take||The Police||Straight|
|120||Born in the USA||Bruce Springsteen||Straight|
|120||It's My Life||Bon Jovi||Straight|
|123||Livin' On a Prayer||Bon Jovi||Straight|
|123||You Give Love a Bad Name||Bon Jovi||Straight|
|125||Sweet Caroline||Neil Diamond||Swung|
|126||Light my Fire||The Doors||Straight|
|128||Jean Genie||David Bowie||Swung|
|133||Don't Go Breaking My Heart||Elton John||Straight|
|136||Go Your Own Way||Fleetwood Mac||Straight|
|136||Paradise||David Lee Roth||Straight|
|140||American Pie||Don McLean||Straight|
|145||Born to be Wild||Steppenwolf||Straight|
As briefly mentioned earlier, a bog standard Straight 8’s beat should work over the core parts of each song. Even songs like Enter Sandman, which starts off with a classic driving tom-based rhythm, will still work with a simple Straight 8’s beat played over the top. Little tip on this one, switch from the hi-hat to the low top with your right hand and the intro beat will sound closer to the original. Then switch to a slightly open hi-hat for the main parts of the song.
There’s a couple of swung songs in there. Swung songs WON’T WORK with your normal Straight 8’s beat. However they will work fine with a quarter note based beat – so quarter notes on the hi-hat instead of eighth notes. You’ll see what I mean when you play them. We’ll talk more about swung rhythms as your playing advances.
It’s important to remember that all of the above songs are played by professional drummers who are mostly at the peak of their game. As such don’t expect to be able to play every single beat and fill exactly as per the original. Start off by just ignoring the fills and keep the beat going – this should work for most songs. Over time you can try to play some of the fills and more advanced beats but don’t be surprised if this takes a lot of practice. If you spot any mistakes in the above or have problems do get in touch. For now, take things one step at a time and have fun!