Drum Ambition features a structured curriculum, including multi-angle HD videos, downloadable sheet music, additional audio file examples, and full support. There are also multiple blog topics relevant to beginner and hobbyist drummers.
Drum Ambition instructional videos are split in two categories.
- Lesson Videos. These are instructional videos that will show you how to play the important beginner drum beats and drum fills.
- Notation Videos. Instructional videos that show you how to read and count music, as well as understanding the sticking concepts that help build control.
All videos feature on-screen music notation and downloadable sheet music. Selected lessons also include additional audio file examples.
Lesson 1. Basic 8th note drum beat.
In this lesson, we talk you through how to play, and count a vital drum beat known as an 8th note beat. This forms the foundation of so many drum beats in many genres of music - so whatever you do, don’t skip this lesson! We’ll also talk about common mistakes that are made at this early point, and give you some guidance on practicing - including using a metronome. The fun starts here!
Lesson 2. Adding more bass drum patterns to the 8th note beat.
Now that you have your basic 8th note drum beat in place, we are going to add five different bass drum patterns to give you some variations! This continues methodically from lesson 1, in small manageable steps. Simon also demonstrates a beat at different tempos, and talks about some practice goals and guidelines, including using the metronome.
Lesson 3. Another Five bass drum patterns for the 8th note beat.
After a quick “check-in” on your progress; Simon gives you another five bass drum patterns to further develop this absolutely crucial drum beat. These involve using the eighth note rest, and are a little more challenging from a co-ordination and reading standpoint. If you have followed the program, you will be ready for the challenge!
Lesson 4. Introducing 8th note drum fills.
Now that you are playing a solid and comfortable basic drum beat, it’s time to add some drum fills. Simon explains exactly what a drum fill is, as well as offering insight in time keeping, sticking, and building control. You’ll feel the bigger picture coming together after working through this exercise. We’ll also talk you through how to safely and musically hit your crash cymbals, as well as giving you some tips on how to practice your own basic drum fills.
Lesson 5. The 8th note fill using 8th note rests.
Moving on nicely from the previous lesson, we show you how adding 8th note rests to your drum fills can give you a few more musical options to experiment with, as well as working on fine tuning your sticking and control. Simon talks about incorporating your drum fills with grooves, including how to exit a drum fill and continue playing while maintaining full control.
Lesson 6. Introduction to the 16th note drum beat.
Using a basic bass and snare drum backbeat, Simon talks you though playing your first 16th note drum beat. Not only are these beats extremely common in music, they are also a lot of fun to play. You will learn how to count this new beat, while learning two different sticking options, and why these two options exist. As always, we break it down into manageable segments starting with the hands first, then the feet, and then we put it all together.
Lesson 7. Adding 8th note bass drum options to your 16th note hand patterns.
Now that you are comfortable with a basic 16th note beat, it’s time to add some variations on the bass drum! We’ll ease you into five new options that will expand your 16th note possibilites! Prepare for some fun, and some challenging co-ordination!
Lesson 8. Adding five more 8th note bass drum patterns to your 16th note drum beat.
Following on from the last video, these additional bass drum patterns will test your co-ordination further, and give you more options to play with. We add some eighth note rests to the bass line to keep things interesting and challenging! Make sure you are nice and comfortable with this - the 16th note fills are up next!
Lesson 9. An introduction to 16th note drum fills.
Now that you have built up your confidence on 16th note drum beats, it’s time to throw in some drum fills! After a quick “check-in” on your progress, Simon walks you through the 16th note drum fill, and some of the popular variations of 16th note fills you will see regularly. We’ll also throw in some 8th notes too, just to keep things fresh!
Lesson 10. More orchestrations of the 16th note drum fill.
So far, we have shown you some basic “descending” 16th note drum fills, with some 8th notes mixed in for good measure. It’s time to get creative with our orchestrations, and think a little more outside the box. We’ll also talk a more about counting bars, including an explanation as to why we mostly count three bars of time before playing a drum fill in these exercises.
Lesson 11. Introduction to basic ¼ note drum beats.
You’ll find out in this lesson why we wait for you to develop your co-ordination and time keeping before showing you these important drum beats. These beats sound solid and clinical at slower speeds, and you’ll be surprised how fast you can take them, when the time is right! There are also some different ways we can play these for different musical situations, using the ride cymbal, crash cymbal, and loose hi hats. Also we’ll discuss using ¼ notes effectively as an alternative to when 8th note playing is just too fast - we call that “accommodation”.
Lesson 12. Four way co-ordination. Playing 8th note ride cymbal patterns while playing the hi hat with the left foot.
Now that your are comfortable with three limb co-ordination, it’s time to get that left foot working. We call this four way co-ordination, and it’s a great part of the challenge of drumming, as well as giving you some more musical options. We’ll play some ride cymbal patterns while bringing the left foot in to play, and we’ll also add a fun drumset percussion item to mix things up for some super cool grooves!
Lesson 13. Opening and closing the hi hat while playing 8th note grooves on the hi hat.
Now the left foot is playing a more active role in your early drumming, Simon will show you how to add hi hat openings and closing motions to your 8th note hi hat beats, using the hi hat foot pedal. These are really musical, great fun, and challenging at the same time! We’ll discuss some of the challenges of hand/foot coordination, while demonstrating five different patterns, including a classic disco/club beat.
Lesson 14. Adding 16th note snare drum to your 8th note drum beats.
We start this lesson with a “check-in” to make sure you are where you need to be at this point in the curriculum. You will learn to add extra snare drum beats on 16th notes to really enhance your eighth note groove options! This is a must-do exercise for aspiring rock drummers, although these beats are used commonly in many genres of music. We’ll talk about some new coordination challenges and the importance of counting these beats.
Lesson 15. Adding 16th note snare drum to more complex eighth note patterns.
Now that you have become comfortable with adding these extra snare drum beats, we make the bass line a little more challenging, and a lot of fun! We’ll also introduce you to tap strokes (often referred to as “ghost notes”), and talk about how different dynamic strokes can make these beats even more musical. Dynamic strokes are covered in great detail in lesson 20, and this taster will give you an insight into why this is critical to musical drumming.
Lesson 16. Adding 16th note snare drum to 16th note drum beats.
In a natural progression from the previous video, Simon shows you how to add extra 16th note snare beats to your 16th note grooves. A demonstration at different tempos shows you the full potential and possibilities of these catchy drum beats. They’ll take some practicing, but will be a lot of fun when you get them down!
Lesson 17. Adding 16th note bass drum to eighth note drum beats.
Get ready for some fun coordination! Now that you have worked through all of the exercises on eighth note and sixteenth note drum beats, it’s time to add a sixteenth note to the bass line to give you some super cool drum beats, and some more musical options. Simon walks you through the process of adding the “A” to the bass line. We also talk about practice options using the ride cymbal and hi hat with foot, to expand your sound options.
Lesson 18. Introduction to Shuffles.
The final piece of the groove jigsaw for Drum Ambition Module 1 is the shuffle beat! Such a cool groove, such a great feel - but surprisingly challenging to play well for the first time. As always, Simon walks you through the process, while highlighting some common challenges, and ways to overcome them. We’ll talk about the different ways of counting the shuffles, and the differences between regular and half time shuffles.
Lesson 19. Triplet based and shuffle based drum fills to work with shuffle beats.
Now we add some drum fills to your shuffles, and introduce the concept of counting in triplets. These practical fills will be the perfect practice tool as you develop this new groove. There is also a new type of sticking used here, which you will find useful when playing triplets. We’ll also throw in some eighth notes and 16th notes, just to mix things up and give you some more flexibility on your drum fills.
Lesson 20. Introduction to the dynamic strokes.
If there’s one lesson that we encourage you to spend a lot of time on, it’s this one! In fact, this will be a “work in progress” lesson for much of your drumming career - something you should always be looking to refine. In preparation for more intermediate level playing (and later, advanced), it’s time to start thinking about the dynamic strokes. This will take a lot of practice and repetition, and this is absolutely essential in becoming a controlled, musical drummer. Simon also talks about the importance of the 26 drum set rudiments..
Lesson 1. The note value chart.
In this introductory video, Simon talks about how to understand the value of the core notes, and gives an explanation of the 4/4 time signature. We talk in detail about how to count the different note subdivisions, and provide guidance on how to practice with a metronome. This is very important fundamental information, and is a must-view video in this series. The notation journey truly starts here!
Lesson 2. Introduction to whole notes, half notes and quarter notes - including rests.
In this first notation video, Simon explains these three important note categories. We’ll also talk about counting, rests, and take a look at which hand is responsible for playing which note, which is also known as “sticking”. Also; we will discuss a “training motion” that will help you along the way. Simon also highlights the benefits of practicing at slower tempos using a metronome.
Lesson 3. An introduction to 8th notes.
Now that you are comfortable playing with whole, half and quarter notes with your right hand, we’ll work on some 8th notes and bring in the left hand. We’ll start off with some straight-forward 8th note groupings, and mix them with some of the notes you learned in lesson 2. Nice and relaxed, one step at a time - the Drum Ambition way.
Lesson 4. An introduction the 8th note rest.
Moving on nicely from lesson 3, this lesson introduces the 8th note rest. In addition to talking a little more about the “training motion”, we’ll give you various examples of how these rests work, and throw in some notation from the previous 3 lessons to keep everything fresh! You’ll also see individual 8th notes for the first time in this lesson - look out for the single tail!
Lesson 5. An introduction to 16th notes.
Congratulations on getting through the eighth note lessons - now get ready for some tongue-twisting counting! In lesson 5, you’ll get acquainted with the 16th note grouping. Simon talks you through the counting and sticking, as well as mixing in some old friends from lessons 1-4. We’ll start nice and easy - no splitting of 16th notes until Lesson 6!
Lesson 6. More popular 16th note note groupings.
In this lesson, you’ll discover some interesting musical phrasing when you remove just one 16th note from the grouping. These can also form very popular and versatile drum fills, so this is a great point to get to! We’ll also mix the new notes with previous lessons, and walk you step by step through the counting and sticking.
Lesson 7. An introduction to basic dotted notes, and their practical use in music notation.
OK - so a little bit of math is needed here, but we promise to make it as pain-free and straight forward as possible. A dot increases a note value (or rest value for that matter) by 50% - don’t worry, we’ll show you some practical examples. It’s just another form of rest, and another tool in the box for understanding music notation.
Lesson 8. Breaking down more complex 16th note groupings, and an introduction to the 16th note rest.
By now you should be happy counting basic 16th note groupings. That means you’re ready to dive deeper! In lesson 8, we introduce the 16th note rest and talk about some common phrases that occur when we split 16th note groupings. This will challenge both your sticking and counting, but if you have followed the tutorials so far, you will be ready for the challenge!
Lesson 9. An introduction to basic note ties, and their practical use in music notation.
Now you are comfortable with note value rests, physical rests and dotted notes (which effectively create a rest) it’s time to look into the fourth and final rest scenario - the tied note. There are some challenges ahead, but nothing you can’t handle if you play slow, count out loud, and make use of your “training motion”. If you are jumping in at this point, you might find this a little difficult - but if you have been following the previous videos, this follows on nicely. Have fun!
Lesson 10. An introduction to 8th note triplets.
Congratulations! You have broken the back of a large chunk of music theory. We round off the notation section on module one with an introduction to 8th note triplets. These will supplement some of the triplet based grooves and fills from the drumset video instructional videos 18 and 19. Simon talks about the need for a different sticking approach when playing these triplets - something you’ll get used to using a lot in Module 2!