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The 6 best drumming books for beginners

Being a drummer is a tremendous undertaking, the world is very vast with no clear point of entry. Many drummers find it difficult to find their bearing, with so many things to learn other than the basics, the next turn can be very unclear.

For a beginner, it can be much easier as the basics are straight forward, it is all about learning patterns and how to control the sticks.

Along with that, the same concepts can be applied to the pedals, patterns and control.

best drumming books for beginners

A great place to start is in a few core drum books, these make up the embodiment of all drummers. Everyone may have learned these core truths from different sources, all together though, they all come to the same conclusions.

That is something great about drumming, you are applying the same concepts as everyone else, but every different player has their own way of portraying them.

Here in this article, we will list some of the greatest core drumming books, that all drummers, new and experienced should look at.

These are the best drumming books:

Stick Control

by George Lawrence Stone

Stick Control: For the Snare Drummer book cover
Image credit: George Lawrence Stone, Amazon

Contrary to what was stated before, this may actually be the only true important book. This is the ABCs of drumming, how you speak and express yourself.

Forget groove, forget beats, forget chops, all of that must be forgotten. Here you will investigate the true stones of drumming.

It is filled with all the hand patterns you could ever need, including the basic rudiments. Once you are into the book it will dive into different rolls, articulation, and note types (triplets, eighths, sixteenths, etc.).

It comes in handy when a drum set is unavailable, as all these exercises can be conducted on a practice pad.

Once you learn the concepts, they are applicable to the drum kit, whether it’s coming up with feels, beats or a solo.

An impressive point of this book is the improvement of your weak hand, whether it is your left or right, the book always has you leading with both hands.

Putting foot patterns along with the hand patterns is a great way to improve the book. Whenever playing any of the hand exercises, throw a simple foot pattern in underneath. This will help out your independence when applying the sticking patterns to the kit.

Pay close attention to the spacing between the notes, and keeping the volume of the notes the same, unless there are accents.

Overall, if you are starting anywhere, start here, practice it thoroughly and be sure to memorize as many of the patterns as possible.

Buy Stick Control

The Drummer’s Toolbox

by Brandon Toews

The Drummer's Toolbox book cover
Image credit: Brandon Toews, Amazon

This is a fairly new book that should be recognized as a great book for beginners. Simply, it dives into all the different styles of drumming, providing some of the core grooves for 101 different styles of music.

Having a tool like this helps diversify a drummer, stagnation being one of the biggest plagues to many starters. They feel the urge to stick with only the style they play, this can severely hamper their playing when they hit a creative wall.

Learning different styles helps you apply different concepts to different situations. Having the ability to play jazz, rock, country, Funk, Soul etc. are all great tools to have in your belt.

Jazz can be a particularly scary subject to some drummers, this book gives great insight into some of the basic jazz beats. Also providing the instructions on how to play some of the most iconic jazz grooves.

At the beginning it even gives the very basics of drum notation, and at the end, giving a nice glossary of some of the common drum terms.

Honestly it is quite amazing how many different beats and grooves you will discover here, it is like Stick Control, but for grooves.

After learning everything contained within, you will be a drummer fluent in many languages, ready to land any type of gig thrown at you!

Buy The Drummer’s Toolbox

The All-American Drummer

by Charley Wilcoxon

The All-American Drummer book cover
Image credit: Charley Wilcoxon, Amazon

This book is a great introduction to the world of soloing, the idea of which can be overlooked. Some drummers get into this idea of soloing as just a rampage on the drums, hitting as many as quickly as possible. Which yes in certain situations is appropriate, in others, not so much.

Once you start approaching the bigger leagues of drummers, it can become apparent that there is much more finesse put into a solo. Taking the time to compose what you will be playing starts to take effect.

That is where The All-American Drummer comes in. It is comprised of one hundred and fifty rudimental solos, as stated right on its cover. Articulation, rudiments, rolls, and many other drumming concepts are explored.

This book gives you the sticking for all the solos which gives great insight on different ways to compose what you are playing, rather than the simple, left, right sticking, which will evolve the way you move around the kit.

It may be a good idea for the beginner to at least have the knowledge of how rolls are played, for example, a nine-stroke roll, also be aware already of how drum music is read.

Once those concepts are learned you can jump into this with confidence. Learn the solos at a slow pace, being sure to recognize all details that the music calls for, then slowly speed it up.

Once at a decent speed start moving the solo around the kit, for example, maybe moving all the accents to the toms. That is where you start learning how to solo a bit more, it teaches you how to move around the kit using some drum concepts other than hit hard and fast.

It will greatly aid you in the future when you get the opportunity to solo on stage or on a song.

As a beginner you probably will not get much opportunity to take center stage, but given the opportunity, this book will have taught you some great soloing concepts.

Buy The All-American Drummer

4-Way Coordination

by Marvin Dahlgren and Elliot Fine

4-Way Coordination drum book cover
Image credit: Marvin Dahlgren, Elliot Fine, Amazon

Drummers are always striving to separate their limbs; it is the key to truly freely playing the kit.

What locks up many drummers is independence, the ability for all limbs to be doing their own thing without reliance on another. Having the ability to be completely limb independent opens so many doors, it allows you to play whatever you want.

So, learning this concept as a beginner removes coordination as an issue in the future. One may wonder why then the book is called a coordination book if we just discussed independence, they both work together.

Knowing, ok my left hand is doing this, my right foot will be doing this, these are independent coordination ideas.

Once you get started with playing some of the exercises in this book, you will realize the complexity of them, as some seem extremely simple. You will realize yourself getting caught up in exactly what is going on, take it slow.

Your brain will take time to be able to handle all the different things going on, think of it as math, you start learning simple problems, then slowly add variables, exponents, making it much more complicated. Once you are able to juggle all of it, you will feel very confident behind the kit.

The book gives you a pretty good description of how to practice, so we will not go over that here. A piece of advice that is good to know is to play slow, do not start quickly, which will get you all jumbled in what is going on.

After you start getting deeper into the book, more concepts are introduced such as articulation, which adds a whole other wave of confusion. But push through and watch what you can do.

This book may aid when getting into the more complicated portions of The Drummer’s Toolbox. Treat this book like Stick Control, the fundamentals of the drum set.

Overall, this is a great book to let beginners build a solid independence foundation, leading to an easier time in the future when learning more complicated pieces.

Buy 4-Way Coordination

Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer

by Ted Reed

Progressive Steps to Syncopation book cover
Image credit: Ted Reed, Amazon

Syncopation is a key concept in drums, simply it is the idea of being off beat.

This book is not very complicated to start, it gives some basic patterns to play, which should gear you up for what will come later. These patterns are mainly on beat, they flow, without much hesitation when playing.

After getting through this portion of the book, you will be led to the syncopation portion of it. Syncopation will automatically seem much more difficult than once thought, off beat is not easy at first.

Many different concepts are used in the notation such as accents, rolls, and different note types.

This is a great way to get into reading actual snare music, Stick Control is more exercise oriented, while these are more so actual songs in a way. Tackle this book before getting into All-American Drummer, easier concepts are introduced here to prep you.

The book also gives some simple bass drum patterns to put underneath the snare, once you get these down, try coming up with your own patterns.

This is the type of book where you need to add some of your own stuff as you progress, otherwise you will power through it without difficulty.

Later in your drum career as you move past this beginner book, you may find yourself coming back to it, and incorporating stronger concepts.

This is a great book to tackle at the beginning of your drumming journey, it gets into some basic snare drum playing, which will build a good foundation for you.

Buy Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer

The New Breed

by Gary Chester

The New Breed drumming book cover
Image credit: Gary Chester, Amazon

Gary Chester created an onslaught of different patterns and grooves for the drummer to tackle. All in all, the book pretty much explains itself with an amazing prologue at the beginning.

Some of the concepts explored are open handed playing, this eliminates the idea of a weak hand. Open handed playing is when (if your right-handed) you play the hats with your left, and the snare with your right, getting rid of the crossing of your arms. This will improve the stamina and muscle in your “weak hand”.

Another idea presented is groove. Groove is something that is learned, some people yes have the natural ability to feel something, but most people start very strict and straight.

Their drumming is by the book and does not present much feel. Chester is presenting that after learning each exercise, you will start to slowly groove with it, naturally playing it rather than reading straight from the page.

A unique action that Gary wants drummers to apply is singing, he says this will help you feel the beat, along with many other benefits that you will read about when diving into this book.

For a beginner, only the first few pages may be tangible, but they are a few core pages, especially when applying all the ideas that Gary would like to be used.

If anything, really the prologue is what this book is for, it is a plethora of wordy knowledge which has nothing to do with playing, they are all concepts that should be applied when playing.

So do not stress if you cannot get too far in this book but study the prologue of it and you will be set.

Buy The New Breed

In summary

It may only take six core books to set up a starting drummer for success.

Stick Control will provide the vocabulary of drumming.

The Drummer’s Toolbox is a dictionary to any groove you may need to learn.

The All-American Drummer will prepare you for any sort of soloing opportunity, as well as heightening your music reading skills and your ability to play complex patterns.

4-Way Coordination is the key to unlocking freedom on the kit.

Progressive Steps to Syncopation teaches off beat playing and simple snare music.

The New Breed is a plethora of knowledge from an experienced studio drummer, giving the real deal tips on the drums.

All these books are great for the beginner drummer looking to excel at the craft. Take a look at all of these and pick any place to start.

We recommend starting with Stick Control, but honestly anywhere is good.

Do not hesitate to start, it is a killer of dreams and an excuse. Always start now, not when it is too late.