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

About Nick Schlesinger

I’m lucky to tour the UK and Europe with great artists and work on sessions in world-renowned studios such as Abbey Road Studios on some really cool projects. You can also find me playing covers gigs in and around London.

Education is a big part of my work, and I’m really passionate about helping drummers achieve their goals. Published by magazines like Modern Drummer (US) and Drummer (UK), I constantly add new educational content on my blog, and I frequently like to embark on various entrepreneurial projects.

Check out my drumming book: Concepts


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