Beginner’s Drum Lesson: Developing a sense of groove

Beginner’s Drum Lesson: Developing a sense of groove

In this Beginner’s Drum Lesson we’ll explore how to make your drum beats sound more musical and groove better.

Has the following ever happened to you? You’re trying to learn a new beat, but something doesn’t sound quite right, like your bass drums or snare drums aren’t making sense in the context of what you’re trying to play. Sometimes this means you’re playing them at the wrong time, which can happen if you inadvertently play too many (or too few) hi hats between these.

The good news is that this isn’t uncommon! The bad news is, as you probably know, that it’s annoying as it breaks the flow of the groove… Frustration sets in. Furthermore, if you’re playing with a band and this happens, it will throw everyone off, making things sound messy! D’oh.

But the better news is that we can totally work on this! The methodology suggested in this beginner’s drum lesson will help you avoid these pitfalls by developing a stronger sense of groove. Not only that, but in the process, you’ll also benefit from reinforcing key skills (see Table below).

Beginner Drum Lesson – Table 1: Goals

Let’s get started.

Change Your Focus

What I’ve described above may be happening because your frame of reference (e.g. what you’re counting) might be your hi hat notes. So, we’re going to try to change your focus, and we’re going to do so by introducing this great bit of information, which I picked up from Colin Woolway, the man behind the great Drumsense books.

If you haven’t given it a thought, the central components of the drum set are as follows:

Beginner Drum Lesson – Table 2: Central components of the drum set

Interesting, right? This hints to the bass and the snare drums being the foundation of a drum beat.


In order to troubleshoot our grooves, let’s get a feel for playing them without the hi hats. This will help focus your attention on the core of the beat.

Exploring space and time

As your play without the hi hats, listen carefully the foundation of the groove, the bass and snare, exploring the space between these. What’s the stripped-down groove making you feel? What image is projecting in your head? Once you establish this, try the following.

Set your metronome to the following rates, and play the stripped down groove (without hi hats) to get different references.

  • Quarter notes (crotchets)
  • Eighth notes (quavers)
  • Sixteenth notes (semi-quavers)

The point here is to get used to hearing the groove relative to different subdivisions. In this case, the metronome clicks act as your hi hats. Once you’ve become better acquainted with the grooves,  reintroduce the hi hats.

Which beats should I use?

You can try this method with any drum beats you’re currently learning, but I’ve also included some examples in the downloadable PDF for you to try out too. They vary in difficulty, so start with the easy ones first.

I hope this helps! You can also subscribe to the newsletter and receive regular updates and articles like this beginner’s drum lesson as well as other educational resources.

Nick x

Download the pdf

What Makes a Great Drum Teacher?

What Makes a Great Drum Teacher?

An ancient Chinese proverb says “to know the road ahead, ask those coming back”. It’s a good one, right? In our journey to becoming better drummers, we want to learn from the best drummers around, that’s a no-brainer. However, not all of them have a knack for / are good at / enjoy teaching! So, picking a great drum teacher is important!

With this mind, I wanted to share some thoughts when searching for a drum teacher. And I think a good place to start is establishing the similarities and differences between a great drummer and a great drum teacher. Let’s explore below.


Let’s start with the things both groups have in common.

To my eyes there are basic elements that can make a great drummer and a great drum teacher very similar. At the end of the day, both groups are knowledgeable drummers!



Great drummers

When it comes to the differences, I believe the devil is in the detail. Great drummers come in many shapes and sizes. Some focus on technical proficiency and speed, some on pocket and feel, and some are great at both, and some are just great entertainers. Generally-speaking, what all successful drummers all have in common is great sense of time, musical sensibility, and are active listeners.

Yet when it comes to teaching, however, they might struggle. This is because:

  • They might not know how to explain and break things down and explain concepts
  • Might struggle in guiding a pupil through a development path in order to a skill that comes naturally to them
  • They might not have the patience to do the above, and not know how to motivate a student


Great drum teachers

In contrast, a great drum teacher is the drummer who is able to provide guidance, nurture and develop skill. The focus, therefore, turns away from his / her own abilities and towards the student’s. This translates to understanding where you stand as a player, identifying your goals and getting to know how your mind works to use to effectively communicate with you. This goes in tandem with spotting areas that need development and creating tailored exercises for these. In doing so, being patient and supportive, keeping fun in mind, yet always challenge to push you forward.



To sum up, I think it’s important to acknowledge that some drummers are better teachers than others. This doesn’t make anyone worse or better drummers or musicians than the other by any stretch of the imagination. Some like teaching, and are great at it, some don’t like teaching and therefore prefer not to. Conversely, it’s important to be aware that some may like teaching but may not have the aptitude, whilst some may not like teaching but be reluctantly be good at it!

If you’re interested in learning the drums, check out my drum lessons. Yet I would also encourage you, if you haven’t already, to check out other drum teachers, as it’s important to find someone whose style you can connect with! You can find drum teachers near you by searching the DrumTeachers.co.uk database!