Jazz Drumming for Beginners: Tips to Get Started

If you’re interested in Jazz drumming for beginners and playing Jazz music, you’re in luck. Jazz drumming is a unique style that offers a lot of creative freedom and opportunities for improvisation.

However, it can also be challenging for beginners to get started. In this article, I’ll share some tips and techniques to help you start your journey into the world of Jazz drumming.

Get Familiar with Jazz Music

The first step to becoming a good Jazz drummer is to listen to Jazz music. Start by exploring the classic recordings of Count Basie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Oscar Peterson and many others. Listen closely to how the drummers’ rhythmic ideas connect with the music.

This will give you an idea of what to aim for and begin to learn the unique rhythms and syncopated phrases that are characteristic of Jazz drumming.

Learn Jazz Drumming For Beginners

Once you’re a little familiar with Jazz music, it’s time to start learning some Jazz drumming for beginners and the basic drumming patterns. Jazz drumming typically involves a lot of syncopated (off-beat) rhythms.  Good time and feel are also essential for playing jazz.

Some basic techniques you need to master include:

The Jazz Ride

  • Jazz ride cymbal pattern: The basic Jazz ride cymbal pattern or “spang-a-lang” pattern is based on triplets.  Check out below for an easy way to see how the pattern falls in time:

    1 + a 2 + a 3 + a 4 + a
    x      X    x x        X   x

    Simply count the counts evenly out loud. Where you see an X or x, play your ride cymbal. The big X is an accented note and the small x is a softer note. 

The Hi-Hat

  • The hi-hat: This involves using the hi-hat pedal to create different sounds and rhythms with both your foot and hands. Typically, we play the hi-hat with our foot on counts 2 and 4 while we play the ride cymbal pattern above. 

    1 + a 2 + a 3 + a 4 + a
    x      X    x  x       X    x
            H                H

    The H is your hi-hat foot. So just play your hi-hat with your foot when you hear yourself say counts 2 and 4. 

The Snare Drum

  • The snare drum: This is often used to play accents, syncopated figures and backbeats on counts 2 and 4.

    To keep things simple for now, add in your snare drum on count 4.

    1 + a 2 + a 3 + a 4 + a
    x      X    x  x       X    x 
            H                H

    When you say count 4, play your snare drum or the S.

The Bass Drum

  • The bass drum: The last voice of our basic Jazz drum groove is the bass drum.  It’s used to create a strong foundation for the music either with quarter notes or syncopated rhythms like you’d play on the snare drum.

    For this example, practice playing quarter notes on the bass drum or playing on counts 1, 2, 3 and 4. 

    1 + a 2 + a 3 + a 4 + a
    x      X    x  x       X    x
            H                 H
    B      B       B       B

    Where you see a B, play your bass drum when you say counts 1, 2, 3 and 4. 

    Now you’re up and swinging! Focus on making your Ride cymbal and hi-hat slightly louder than your snare and bass drum. This will start to give you a nice balanced sound in your Swing drum groove. 

    You can learn variations on this Jazz Swing groove and all of the basics of Jazz drumming in my Intro To Jazz Drumming Course
My Intro To Jazz Drumming is the ultimate Jazz drumming for beginners course.

Metronome Practice is Essential in Jazz Drumming For Beginners

One of the biggest challenges for beginner Jazz drummers is to develop good time and feel. To help with this, it’s important to practice with a metronome or backing tracks for drum practice.

A metronome is a device that produces a consistent clicking or beeping sound, which can help you play with consistent tempo. Start by playing simple rhythms with your metronome and gradually increase the complexity as you get more comfortable.

Backing tracks for drums or drumless tracks are a powerful option to improve your Jazz drumming fast. These are professionally recorded Jazz musicians without the drums.  Particularly powerful are bass only tracks where you can practice your time and grooves with a bass player. 

Learn to Play with Other Musicians

Playing with other musicians is essential for developing your skills as a Jazz drummer. Find other musicians in your area who are interested in playing Jazz and start jamming together.

This will give you an opportunity to practice playing with others and to develop your improvisational skills too.

Jazz drumming for beginners doesn't have to be difficult.

Jazz Drumming For Beginners is Best With Good Drum Teacher

It’s also a good idea to take lessons from an experienced Jazz drummer or join a Jazz drumming course. A teacher can help you identify your weaknesses and give you personalized feedback on your playing.

A course like the ones here at Jazz Drum School, can help you reach your Jazz drumming goals quickly. Both a private teacher and courses can teach you advanced techniques more quickly.  

Private lessons are still a solid way to tackle Jazz drumming for beginners.

Don’t miss a beat! Sign up for my private Jazz drum lessons and start grooving like a pro. Let’s jam together!

Jazz Drumming For Beginners and Develop Your Own Style

One of the best things about Jazz drumming is that it offers a lot of creative freedom. Once you’ve mastered the basic techniques, you can start experimenting with different rhythmic ideas.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and to develop your own unique style of playing. This is what sets great Jazz drummers apart from the rest.


Jazz drumming is a little challenging in the beginning but those who “stick” with it, have loads of fun making music.

By listening to Jazz music, learning the basic techniques, practicing with a metronome or drumless tracks, playing with other musicians, taking lessons or courses, and developing your own style, you can become a solid Jazz drummer.

Remember to have fun and enjoy the process of learning and experimenting. Put on your Jazz shoes, grab your drumsticks and let’s get swinging! 

Do you want to play Jazz on the drums?

Hey, I’m Von Baron. I’m determined to help you become an AMAZING Jazz drummer.  My only question is, are you ready?

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