Learning to play the snare drum is all about learning to play rhythms steadily and on time. But one of the most enjoyable things you will ever do as you are developing your skills is learning how to play along to your favorite songs.
In this guide, we look at multiple snare drum songs for beginners. Cut your teeth on these.
“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
Song year: 2003
Technically, the above tutorial shows you how to play The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” on the snare drum and the kick drum. But the song is just so straightforward that it’s well worth practicing and learning for all beginner snare drum enthusiasts.
Decision makers and audiences alike initially groaned at the simplicity of this modern garage rock classic but eventually came to embrace it, especially in sports arenas, where it’s found a bit of a home for itself.
As a snare drum player, it’s important that you get basic rhythms under control, and “Seven Nation Army” represents a great opportunity to make that happen.
“The Imperial March” by John Williams
Song year: 1980
Every snare drum player eventually finds themselves wanting to learn this Star Wars classic, largely associated with the villain of the original trilogy, Darth Vader. Though it is, of course, emblematic of the Empire more generally.
I would not necessarily call “The Imperial March” the easiest groove to learn. Triplets are well worth studying, of course, but they can feel a little fast for beginners in this piece. Of course, you always have the option of starting slow and building up your speed.
“The Imperial March” is a musical theme well worth studying. Just don’t be surprised if it doesn’t come quick and easy.
“We Will Rock You” by Queen
Song year: 1987
Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is among one of their most recognizable tunes, thanks in part to its “stomp-stomp-clap-rest” rhythmic pattern. There are no drums in the original, leaving plenty of room for drummers to be creative in their interpretation.
The song features a very simple rhythm, one every drummer should practice hard. Remember – it’s not just about how easy a rhythmic pattern is – it’s also about how consistently and on time you can play it. So, remember to practice it with a metronome.
“Beat It” by Michael Jackson
Song year: 1983
Michael Jackson’s Thriller was certified Diamond in multiple countries across the world, including Canada, Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The album would not have been complete, however, without a hard rock tune.
“Beat It” is just what the doctor ordered, and it shone as the third single off Thriller.
The song features a relatively simple rock beat, with some subtle nuances that set it apart. While the video above shows you how to play it with a full drum kit, our recommendation would be to creatively adapt it to the snare.
“Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance
Song year: 2006
My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” kicks off with a lone piano and lead vocal. Then, as the song builds, the drums come in with a simple marching band pattern every snare drummer should know how to play.
The pattern is primarily made up of quarter notes and triplets, which are essential rhythms for beginners.
The song is ultimately meant to be played on a full kit, but there are plenty of rhythmic patterns throughout that are worth practicing on your snare.
“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon
Song year: 1975
Legendary session and studio drummer Steve Gadd played drums on Paul Simon’s second single from Still Crazy After All These Years. And the song is very identifiable for its repeating groove in the verses.
As you may have already guessed, the snare work on “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” is quite superb. While the song is intended to be played on a full kit, it is possible to adapt it to the snare drum, something we do recommend if you want to improve on that snare drum of yours.
“All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles
Song year: 1967
Having signed a contract to appear on Our World as Britain’s representatives, The Beatles were tasked with writing a song that would be easily relatable to listening audiences using simple language.
The band didn’t just want to make a “throwaway,” however, and “All You Need Is Love” delivered a strong, unmistakable message.
Every musician should add some Beatles to their repertoire, and it just so happens that “All You Need Is Love” features plenty of snare work.
“Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2
Song year: 1983
U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is among one of their most politically charged hits. With an aggressive guitar part and a militaristic drumbeat, the elements of the song work together to convey a sense of frustration, something The Edge was reportedly feeling as he was writing the song.
The snare pattern in this song is another essential for snare drummers. Again, because the original features a full kit, some creative interpretation will be par for the course. Have fun with it.
“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen
Song year: 1980
The disco-influenced “Another One Bites the Dust” remains a quintessential Queen classic. The song features a very simple but effective arrangement across the board – whether you’re looking at the drums, bass, or guitars.
The main thing this song will teach you is how to play and maintain a steady beat. This is something every drummer should be able to do, even if they aren’t playing disco or funk rock all the time.
How to adapt it to the snare drum is entirely up to you.