How do I play along to songs on drums?

Author: Simon DasGupta.
September 14, 2022

In this article

Most of us want to play the drums because we aspire to play along with our favorite tracks. The ability to do this is one of the most significant milestones for beginner drummers. If you approach this right, it may not be as far off as you think.

  • Playing drums to popular songs.
  • Simplifying drum parts to make songs fun and accessible.
  • Recommended songs that are great for beginner drummers.

Playing along to songs is fun!

At Drum Ambition, all of the beats and fills that we give you in our carefully structured courses help you to achieve this goal. After all, playing drums independently is fantastic, but playing along with music and playing with other musicians is next-level fun!

The all-important first steps.

In our free course preview, you will learn how to play a basic rock and pop beat. This beat is the foundation for so many songs and a great place to start. The chances are, many of your favorite pop and rock songs are variations of this 8th note drum beat, so working on this video is highly recommended.

Picking manageable songs is key!

The trick is finding songs that are not too fast or overly distracting with frequent complex drum fills.

Let's take three examples that we think fit the bill: "Yellow" by Coldplay, "High Hopes" by Panic at the Disco, and "You Need to Calm Down" by Taylor Swift. We can't embed the songs due to copyright restrictions, but you'll quickly find them on your favorite online streaming service.

If you like Coldplay, "Yellow" is always a favorite with beginner drummers because it is mid-tempo and has no drum fills. That is very unusual but musically perfect for this particular song. It just allows you to focus on the beat and play along with no distractions.

Panic at the Disco and Taylor Swift songs were chosen for their recent popularity and relaxed tempos. While these are good examples, music tastes differ, and nothing stops you from picking your own. Just try and find ones that tick the boxes on tempo and lack of distractions.

Simplifying drum parts leads to more fun!

If you listen to all three of our examples, you will hear that they all have slightly different beats. But, also notice how you could play along to all three of these songs using just the drumbeat you learned in the free course preview.

This is critical to understand - simplicity is key. There is nothing wrong with simplifying parts so you can play along and have fun. We always say that, in this case, simplification is a skill, not a shortcut. As you work through our courses, you will be armed with the skills necessary to play songs closer to the original parts.

In the meantime, jamming what you can play to the songs you enjoy will help you develop essential skills, but most importantly, have fun. We always recommend simplification and fun over perfection and too much attention to details that may not be important straight away. If you lose the fun element of this journey, you may soon lose the motivation to play.

The next steps.

As you become more experienced later, you can source the sheet music to your favorite songs, set yourself the challenge of reading the part, and play closer to the original track. This is a fun exercise because you use the music notation skills you learned along the way.

With that said, it is essential to manage your expectations here. Reading charts is a skill that comes much later in your drumming adventure after having fun working on the ever-important foundation lessons presented in Drum Ambition.

By working through our courses and developing a good practice plan, you'll also be able to work out many drum parts just by listening and applying what you have learned, whether you use a drum chart or not.

Simon's recommended playlist.

Remember the points made on simplification in this article. The first step is to play a comfortable drum beat with some of these songs. Don't get too concerned with drum fills, stops and starts, and other distractions that prevent you from the Number 1 goal: having fun!

1. Coldplay - Yellow.
2. Queen - Another One Bites The Dust.
3. Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk.
4. Panic at the Disco - High Hopes.
5. Taylor Swift - You Need to Calm Down.
6. Lady A - Get to Me.
7. Jason Aldean - Crazy Town.
8. Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar.
9. No Doubt - Hella Good.
10. AC/DC - Back In Black.

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