5 Essential Tips for Playing Drums in Pop Music
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 5 min read


  1. Focus on the groove
  2. Play with dynamics
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Practice metronome use
  5. Study pop drummers

If you've ever found yourself tapping your foot to a catchy pop song and wondered how to play drums for pop, you're in the right place. This blog will walk you through five straightforward tips to help you master the drum beats that provide the backbone to your favorite tunes. Let's get started!

Focus on the Groove

When it comes to playing pop music on the drums, the groove is the heart of your performance. This is the rhythmic pattern that carries the song and makes people want to dance. Mastering the groove requires a few key steps:

Understanding the Beat

Pop music typically has a strong, steady beat. But don't be fooled by its simplicity. Playing a steady beat doesn't mean monotony—it means consistency. You should be able to maintain the same tempo throughout the song without missing a beat. Practice different songs to get a feel for this.

Mixing Up the Rhythm

Once you get comfortable with the beat, start experimenting with different rhythms. Try adding a few extra hits on the snare drum or bass drum to spice things up. Remember, the key is to enhance the groove, not overpower it.

Listening and Learning

One of the best ways to learn how to play drums for pop is to listen to the masters. Pay close attention to how they vary their beats to create a groove that's uniquely theirs. This can give you ideas on how to make your own drumming more interesting and personalized.

When you're focusing on the groove, remember that your goal is to support the song, not steal the show. A good drummer knows when to step up and when to step back. And when it comes to playing pop music, a solid, steady groove can make all the difference. So grab those drumsticks and let's get grooving!

Play with Dynamics

Playing with dynamics, the variation in loudness between notes or phrases, is an absolute game-changer when learning how to play drums for pop. It adds depth and emotion to your performance, taking it from standard to standout. Let's explore this a bit further:

Mastering the Art of Volume Control

As a drummer, having control over your volume is paramount. Too loud, and you risk overpowering the other instruments. Too quiet, and you'll get lost in the mix. Start by practicing playing at different volumes. This will not only help you develop control but also give you a better understanding of how volume affects the overall sound of a song.

Varying Your Touch

Here's a secret: how you strike the drum can change the sound drastically. A lighter touch can produce a softer, more mellow sound, while a harder hit can create a louder, more aggressive tone. Experiment with different levels of force and observe how it changes the sound.

Creating Contrast

Using dynamics effectively means creating contrast within the song. This could mean playing the verses softly and then ramping up the intensity for the chorus. Or, it could mean switching from a heavy, powerful beat to a quieter, more subtle one for a dramatic effect.

Remember, playing with dynamics isn't just about being loud or soft—it's about using volume strategically to enhance the mood and feel of the song. So next time you sit down at your drum kit, don't just play the notes. Play with the dynamics and see how much richer your performance can be.

Keep it Simple

When it comes to learning how to play drums for pop music, less is often more. A great drum part doesn't have to be complex or flashy—it just has to serve the song. Let's break this down:

Focus on the Basics

Before you start adding in fills and fancy techniques, make sure you've got the basics down pat. This includes things like keeping steady time, understanding the structure of the song, and knowing where to place your hits. After all, every great drummer knows that a solid foundation is key to a good performance.

Don't Overplay

Remember, as a drummer, you're not just playing for yourself—you're playing for the song. This means you should avoid overplaying or adding in unnecessary fills that could distract from the overall melody. Trust me, your bandmates (and your audience) will thank you for it.

Embrace the Space

One of the most underappreciated aspects of drumming is the power of silence. Those moments of pause, or "space", can create tension and anticipation, adding a whole new layer to your performance. Don't be afraid to leave some parts of the song without any drumming at all. You'll be surprised at how effective it can be.

So, when it comes to playing drums in pop music, remember—simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Stick to the basics, avoid overplaying, and embrace the power of silence. You'll find that these simple strategies can transform your drumming, making you not just a drummer, but a true musician.

Practice Metronome Use

One of the best-kept secrets on how to play drums for pop effectively is to make a metronome, your best friend. This underrated device can help you keep time like a pro, ensuring you never miss a beat. Let's get into the details:

Understanding the Metronome

A metronome is a device that produces regular, metrical ticks — beats, or clicks, that you can set at different speeds. It's like a clock for musicians, helping you stay in time and maintain a consistent rhythm. It's particularly handy when you're learning new songs or techniques.

Starting Slow

When you first start practicing with a metronome, it's okay to start slow. Set it at a comfortable tempo, play along, and gradually increase the speed as you get more comfortable. This method helps you build accuracy and confidence in your timing.

Incorporating it in Daily Practice

Make the metronome a part of your daily practice routine. Whether you're working on a specific song or just jamming out, try to play with the metronome regularly. It will help you develop a natural sense of timing and rhythm that's crucial for playing in any genre, including pop.

Remember, a metronome isn't just a practice tool—it's a guide that can help you become the best drummer you can be. So, start slow, incorporate it into your routine, and watch your drumming skills flourish. Now, that's how to play drums for pop like a pro!

Study Pop Drummers

Another excellent way to learn how to play drums for pop is to study those who do it best. By observing and analyzing pop drummers, you can gain valuable insights into their techniques, styles, and rhythms. Let's see how:

Listen Actively

Choose a pop song and listen to it with a focus on the drumming. Listen to how the drummer contributes to the song's overall feel, how they use dynamics, and the unique rhythms they create. Active listening can help you understand the role of drums in pop music at a deeper level.

Watch and Learn

Thanks to the internet, you have access to countless drumming performances at your fingertips. Watch videos of pop drummers performing live. Pay attention to their techniques, their coordination, and how they interact with other band members. You'll be surprised by how much you can learn just by watching.

Replicate Their Styles

After listening and watching, it's time to put your knowledge into action. Pick a song by a drummer you admire and try to replicate their style. Remember, the goal isn't to copy them note for note but to understand their drumming approach and incorporate it into your playing.

Studying pop drummers is more than just a learning exercise—it's a journey to discover your unique drumming style. So, listen, watch, learn, and don't forget to have fun along the way. That's the true essence of how to play drums for pop!

If you enjoyed our "5 Essential Tips for Playing Drums in Pop Music" blog post and want to expand your musical knowledge even further, check out the workshop 'Making Music From Everyday Sounds' by Tom Glendinning. This workshop will teach you how to think outside the box and incorporate unconventional sounds into your music, adding a unique touch to your drumming skills in pop music.