“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” - Ludwig van Beethoven

Nearly half of all internet users use a streaming service to listen to music.

Could you use it to teach yourself how to play the drums?

Maybe, but it’d be difficult. You'll need more resources than that!

A lot of drummers are self-taught including John Bonham, Buddy Rich, and Keith Moon. In fact, Keith Moon was calling himself a drummer before he even had a drum kit!

How did they learn?

Buddy Rich learnt by listening and used his sense of rhythm to help him along. John Bonham and Keith Moon must have learnt some basic techniques.

Learning to play the drums outside of a music school and without a music tutor isn’t for everyone. In this article, we're going to look at a few books that every drummer should consider investing in in order to improve their playing.

Can You Learn to Drum with the Help of a Book?

A drum book for dummies will never replace a drum teacher. They also won’t make you a professional drummer.

Which are the best drumming books?
There are plenty of books, old and new, on drumming. (Source: Gellinger)

Even if you’re really motivated, it’ll be difficult to learn rudiments without the help of a teacher or a private drum tutor. While there’s sheet music in a lot of books, it can be difficult to understand what it all means from a basic book on drumming.

There’ll be nobody to correct you if you make a mistake and you might pick up a number of bad drumming habits.

On the other hand, reading a book on the history of jazz could really complement your drum lessons london (or elsewhere) and give you a better understanding of the drums.

It might be better to choose a single method rather than jumping between several as you'll run the risk of getting lost and not learning the basics effectively. That said, you should use a variety of resources. A book on drumming is a good place to start but you should also use CDs, DVDs, lessons, and video tutorials, etc.

Don’t forget to also practise your drumming and train your ear behind an actual drum kit or electronic drum set.

Give yourself every chance to become a great drummer. It would be foolish to ignore one particular medium when there are good learning resources to be found everywhere!

Basic Drumming Vocabulary

There are a lot of words that you’ll need to know before you start drumming lessons including:

  • Hi-hat
  • Snare drum
  • Bass drum
  • Tom-toms
  • Cymbal
  • Quarter note
  • Paradiddle
  • Triplet
  • Stick

Of course, just knowing the words won’t automatically make you a master of the drums. However, it might be worth picking up a drum glossary anyway!

How do you hold drumsticks?
Don't start playing the drums until you've worked out how to hold the sticks. (Source: tookapic)

Stick Control for the Snare Drummer by George Lawrence Stone

While this book is nearly a century old (it was first published in 1935), it still remains one of the most regularly recommended books on drumming. In fact, Modern Drummer magazine put it in the list of their best drumming books back in 1993 and the book still remains popular 25 years after that!

As you could have probably guessed, it focuses on snare technique and covers topics from basic snare beats to advanced techniques.

Whether you want to learn about single-beat combinations, flam beats, flam triplets, and short roll combinations, this is the book for you.

You can also pick up a copy for less than £10!

Time Functioning Patterns by Gary Chaffee

This is a revolutionary book on drumming techniques. Even though it came out in 1976, it’s still useful today.

However, the methods used are particularly mathematical and are pretty dry and lacking a fun side. Given that Gary Chaffee had a science degree, this is hardly surprising.

If this book isn't for you, you can also check out the methods of Ted Reed, Greb, and Stone.

Master Studies by Joe Morello

Another book that made it into Modern Drummer's list of the best drumming books and is also available for less than £10. This book focuses on drumstick control and accent studies, buzz-roll exercises, single and double-stroke patterns, control studies, flam patterns, dynamic development, and endurance studies.

Every drummer should have a copy of this on their bookshelf or just next to their drum kit and should read it from cover to cover.

The Language of Drumming by Benny Greb

This is a great reference for drumming techniques. In this book, Benny Greb teaches the language of drumming.

This is Benny Greb’s own method. This German drummer is known for his technique, teaching approach, musicality, and rhythm. The best thing about the book is that there’s a style of music notation available for those that can’t read sheet music.

You don’t need to be able to read sheet music to get the most out of this book.

4-Way Coordination: A Method Book for the Development of Complete Independence on the Drum Set by Marvin Dahlgren and Elliot Fine

What's the hardest thing about playing the drums?

If you said coordinating all your limbs, you're probably right! This book is a masterclass on how drummers can operate their hands and feet independently to one another. The techniques found in this book will help drummers improve regardless of their preferred musical genres.

While this book will cost you more than £10, you can pick it up on Amazon for £11.64, so it's hardly going to break the bank!

African Rhythms and Independence for Drumset by Mokhtar Samba

The drums have many origins including American, European, and African origins. African percussion has played an important role in creating modern drums.

So why not learn the basics of African rhythms?

How do you play the drums?
There are tonnes of different ways to learn to play the drums. (Source: Free-Photos)

You’ll learn the following rhythms:

  • The Gnawa from Northwest Africa
  • The Maghreb from North Africa
  • The Mangambe and Bikutsi from Cameroon
  • The Doudoumba from West Africa
  • The Sabar from Senegal

This is a great way to expand your musical knowledge and culture and draw on a wider range of inspiration.

There’s also a CD available. This is arguably the best way to learn about African drumming.

The Best Books on Different Musical Styles

As we saw before, there are plenty of different works available on drumming. There are also plenty of books on drumming for different musical genres.


Drumming Books for Rock and Funk Music

Since drumming changes with each musical style, you'll need specific books. To start, here’s a list of reading materials for those wanting to learn about rock and funk music:

  • The New Breed by Gary Chester: Perfect for improving your coordination and using your limbs independently.
  • Advanced Funk Studies by Rick Latham: A classic drumming book from the 1980s.
  • Realistic Rock by Carmine Appice: The perfect book for learning some classic modern rock drum beats.
  • Groove Alchemy by Stanton Moore: You can learn the basics of funk as well as some modern rhythms with the help of this book and the accompanying CD.
  • The Commandments of R&B Drumming by Zoro: For the basics of funk, soul, and hip-hop drumming.
  • Future Sounds by David Garibaldi: This is great for rhythm and control.

The Basics of Jazz Drumming

Jazz drumming isn’t for everyone, especially not beginners. However, if you want to give it a go, here are a few useful books that should definitely have a home on your bookshelf.

  • Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer by Jim Chapin: This legendary book can help you become a jazz drummer. However, it is one of the most difficult books.
  • The Art of Bop Drumming by John Riley: For learning modern jazz drumming.
  • Modern Rudimental Swing Solos by Charley Wilcoxon: For learning swing rudiments.

Learning Snare Drum Technique

To learn some snare drum rudiments, Buddy Rich can help!

Check out Buddy Rich’s Modern Interpretation of Snare Drum Rudiments by Buddy Rich and Henry Adler.

After all, Buddy Rich is probably the greatest drummer of all time.

Drumming Definitions

Whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or expert drummer, when you learn to play drums, you’ll also need to learn the lingo.

In a few of our articles on drumming, we've included a short glossary on drumming terms to help you on your way. If you want to become fluent in drumming, you're just going to have to read all our articles on the drums!

How do you get better at the drums?
Playing, anywhere and at any time, is the best way to improve. (Source: StockSnap)

Tension Rod

This is a metal part that attaches to the drum that helps hold the skin onto the drum.


Forte means to play loudly. It’s the opposite of piano, which means quietly.

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