Throughout my professional life, I am asked a lot about what books are the best books to use for a drummer that is just beginning. There are a lot of books on the market that claim that they are “the best” when it is very possible that they are NOT the best book. This is why I created this list of beginner books to learn how to play the drums.
I don’t mean to greet you with doom and gloom so early on this page. But there are few pointers that I feel I should point out at this time and get it out of the way early.
Don’t buy a dream, or get sold!
The sad part about this industry is the fact that most of the participants that sell things in this market are selling dreams, and they know it. So what they do is create books that are completely full of garbage and then put a really cool famous drummer on the cover and then sell it to kids. Only leading the student to believe that they are going to learn how to play like that famous drummer by purchasing his book.
Meanwhile, advanced and knowledgeable drummers and percussionists can see right through this. One major reason is that sometimes that drummer on the cover of that book does not even know how to read music, let alone even be able to write the book! Additionally, most advanced drummers can rapidly see that the “Rock Star” drummer that is on the cover of some of these books, tend to only at 1 beat. That’s right, you read that correctly. “1 Beat” like (1) or (one). Meaning, most of the time they are playing that good old Rock beat. Which as we know as being 4/4 counting 1/2/3/4 with a bunch of fill-ins. Now, I know that many of you may not be aware of what I am talking about when I say 4/4. But as you start your learning adventure on the drums. You will rapidly realize what I mean. Then, you will understand the comedy of all this.
The amount of this kind of “sell you a dream” material has flooded the industry with music books that are all nearly the same and barely contribute to the Industry.
Minimum requirements you need to overcome as a beginner.
There are a few things or areas that you need to cover as a beginner in drumming. These are topics that you should prioritize your energy and time into to become a better player. Many early drummers are confused about this. Luckily for beginners, it is as easy as just following the flow of a basic book. But not all beginner books are as good as others.
So first, let’s just cover over what you should be aiming to learn at this stage of learning how to read drum music and then next we will cover which books are the best for learning.
Requirements to become an Intermediate Drum Player.
- Become introduced to the snare drum rudiments and begin to try to memorize all of the 40 standard rudiments.
- Read one elementary snare drum book that covers:
- How to read notes.
- How to count
- Introduces you to “common” time signatures. Like 2/4, 4/4, 6/8 and 4/4.
- Introduces you to how to read a roll
- How to read a flam.
- How to read a drag.
- Identify and read a triplet.
- Read one elementary drum set book that introduces you to the format on how it looks and helps you become familiar enough with it so that you can play it. Seeing how a snare, ride, bass drum, and cymbals look.
- Play one around the set solo book. I know, it sounds more complicated than it actually is. A solo book is like a “Triplets Around the Set” book. Don’t worry, I will explain this more down below.
List of Drum Books for Beginners
Alright, first I want to make clear that I am only going to list books that I have used myself when I was a beginner or books that I have read or taught with. It is important to note that I have been swimming in these kinds of books for many years and I have actually seen “most” of them throughout my life. So it leaves very “few” that I don’t actually have first-hand knowledge with. Also, I would never recommend a book if I know nothing about the book.
There are two types of drum method books that exist for drummers. There are Snare Drum Books and there are Drum Set Books. I will list them below; each on their own list. I am in hopes that this will eliminate the confusion on which books to buy first. I promise that the books below will gradually pull you through the growing stages of developing your reading skills on the drums. It is also important to always play the drum rudiments. The method that works the best is to always be inside of three books. One for Snare Drum, then for Drum Set, and finally one for Snare Drum rudiments. It will take a lifetime to learn all of the drum rudiments inside of The Drum Rudiment Bible. However, at the beginner stage; at least learn and memorize the first 40 rudiments. All of the other hybrid rudiments will take you a very long time to complete.
List of Snare Drum Books for Beginners (in this order)
- Elementary Drum Method, by Roy Burns
- Graded Music for Snare Drum – Book 1, by Kevin Hathway & Ian Wright
- Stick Control, by George Lawrence Stone
List of Snare Drum Rudiment Books for Beginner
- The Drum Rudiment Bible, by D. Mark Agostinelli – Pages 1-8 – These pages consist of the Basic NARD and PAS rudiments. You should memorize them and do it at the same time as all of the other books.
List of Drum Set Books for Beginners (in this order)
- Elementary Rock and Roll Drumming, by Roy Burns and Howard Helpern
- Around the Drums with Triplets – Book 1, by Paul Capozzoli
- Around the Drums with Triplets – Book 2, by Paul Capozzoli
- Around the Drum with Paradiddles – Book 4, by Paul Capozzoli
- Around the Drums with Open Rolls – Book 2, by Paul Capozzoli
When you make it through these books you will have a well-rounded knowledge of how to read. You will be ready to advance to intermediate level books.
It is important to recognize the importance of creating and maintaining a schedule. Attempt to create a calendar of when you will practice and set some time aside each week to play. Then eventually, you will advance to a better player. Soon, you will be coming to this website to read the list of books that are good for intermediate drum players.