How To Drum With Brushes

More an more, drummers around the World are learning how to drum with brushes. Still, you’ll find most drummer’s brushes in their stick bag most of the time.

It’s estimated that only about 15-20% of drummers actually know how to use drum brushes in their playing. Almost every style of drumming though has a time and a place for using drumming brushes.

In this article, I’m going to share an important brushes groove with you. I call it the Quarter Note Pulse brushes pattern. I teach this and many other practical patterns in Brushes Mastery Course at

Sometimes when I drum with brushes, I only use a snare drum.

The Quarter Note Pulse

For almost all of modern music, the quarter note is the rhythmic foundation. It’s the glue that keeps a band together. Knowing how to feel and play this simple and powerful note in your drumming is essential.

Having a strong quarter note pulse in your playing will improve your drumming time and feel. With this improvement will also come many more drumming opportunities.

Like playing quarter notes on the ride cymbal in Jazz Swing, drum brushes also have a quarter note pattern. To learn how to Swing your quarter notes on the ride cymbal with sticks, check out my video below.

You might also enjoy my article about Time and Feel.

Breaking Down the Quarter Note Pulse Pattern

This drum brushes pattern has 2 parts. Small circular motions with the left hand and light taps with the right hand (Opposite if you are left-handed). When you put the parts together in time, it gives you a powerful, intense and forward-moving groove.

Learn to drum with brushes and the quarter-note pulse brushes pattern.

This pattern is the most simple Swing pattern I play but I use it about 60% of the time. It’s a great way to communicate the time to the other band members. I often use it when I drum with brushes and the band’s time is a little wobbly. It immediately locks the band together.

When we play a Swing groove, we are listening carefully to the bass player’s quarter notes. This drum brushes pattern makes it easy to lock in with the bass player’s quarter notes and create a solid time and feel foundation for the rest of the band.

Learn To Drum With Brushes

See the video below and learn how to play this cool groove. This is an excerpt from my lesson on the drum brushes Quarter Note Pulse Pattern.

Use Anytime You Drum With Brushes

Adding this pattern to your bag of brushing tricks will definitely make you a popular drummer in your music community.

The quarter note pulse pattern leaves a lot of space in the music for the other musicians to fill in. Keeping things simple is always an easy way to make great music with other people.

Check out the video below of me using this brushes pattern with a vocalist while she scat sings.

The spaciousness of the quarter note pulse pattern allows the music to breathe. It doesn’t clutter things and lets the vocalist really dig in to the Swing feeling.

We can play many notes on the drums but when we play simply, we learn which notes are the right notes to play. This brushes pattern really lets us focus on time and feel, lock in the with bassist and create a solid foundation for the music.

If you’re one of those drummers still on the fence about learning to drum with brushes, check out my article, The Art of Drum Brushes. It’s a great place to start.

Learn To Swing Hard

One great thing about focusing on quarter notes, is your Swing feel will deepen. Leaving out extra drum fills and groove notes will help you swing harder.

Actually, practicing quarter note grooves in any style of drumming with sticks and brushes will help align your timing, note spacing and consistency. Many times drummers play too many notes and I think it’s because they feel uncomfortable playing simple grooves.

The simpler the groove the more exposed your time and feel are going to be. It’s a real test of your ability.

The bottom line is, play the simple stuff really, really well first. After that, everything else you want to play will sound even better.

Drum with brushes and sticks to practice simple quarter note grooves.


Mastering my simple Quarter Note Pulse brushes pattern will make you a better drummer and open more doors to play drums with other musicians.

The quarter note is the rhythmic foundation for most of modern music. Being comfortable playing quarter note grooves with brushes and sticks will support the music. It’ll make the other musicians in your band very happy and make the music sound great.

So, become one of the 15-20% of drummers using brushes in their drumming. Start with my Quarter Note Pulse Pattern and then join my Brushes Mastery Course to deepen and widen your brush playing skills and musicianship.

I’m looking forward to seeing you at Jazz Drum School too! Keep swinging my friend πŸ€™

How do you think a simple brushes pattern like this might help your drumming?

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