There are thousands of drum books out there, which is why we’ve compiled some of the top selections into one handy list. Here you’ll find the best drum books for beginners as well as some very advanced choices too. Some of these books have been around for generations, others are relatively new to the scene, but they all have one thing in common – they’re some of the best books on drumming around.
Our Top Books
Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed
This book is widely regarded as one of the best and most valuable drum books ever printed. It contains a series of exercises which are made up of snare drum and bass drum parts. The book is not limited in this way, however. You can use these patterns in many different ways. First of all, the book works as a great tool for helping beginners get familiar with the basic note heads involved with drum notation and reading music in general. It will take you through larger note values such as quarter notes, all the way down to 16th notes and provides a detailed series of exercises which are structured in a way so as to gradually increase in difficulty.
Essentially this book is a useful collection of syncopated rhythms which can help to test and improve your sense of rhythm. Many drummers and tutors have used Syncopation with their students in even more creative ways. Even the early examples in the book can be transformed into more advanced exercises. For example, a simple quarter note and eighth note pattern on the snare drum could be transported to the drum set. Keep the snare pattern going while playing a traditional samba or a jazz ride cymbal. These exercises end up having multiple applications and so it’s always useful to have a copy to hand.
- Has many kit applications
- Great aid for learning to read drum music
- No full drum kit exercises
- Limited time signatures
Ted Reed’s Syncopation is a great book for drummers who are just past the beginner point of drumming. Some of the uses may be lost on more inexperienced drummers, although this remains a good book for basic reading exercises.
The New Breed by Gary Chester
There is a sort of mythical status around this book. It was devised and written by the studio legend, Gary Chester, who has played on many number one hits such as Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’. This book is an ideal asset for drummers who are into improving independence and control on the drum set. Gary’s unique approach was revolutionary in its day, and yet still poses a great deal of challenge for any modern drummer. The book consists of many drumming exercises which focus on playing syncopated patterns over steady rhythmic pulses. For example, in one case you might be required to play eight notes on your hihat foot, while at the same time quarter notes on the bass drum, and then finally a syncopated rhythm on the snare drum. This may sound easy to most established players but the difficulty increases swiftly and soon you’ll find yourself in unknown and choppy waters. The New Breed is one for drummers who love a challenge and will also help improve your inner clock no bounds.
- Great for improving independence
- A real challenge
- Comes with a CD for demonstration purposes
- Could be a bit advanced for many drummers
- Can be hard to see the benefit of some exercises
The aim of this book is to improve your internal clock, your independence and ultimately your creative control on the drum set. This book has a lifetime of challenge built into it so it’s perfect for anyone who wants a long term challenge and to try something a bit different from your average drum book.
Master Studies by Joe Morello
Legendary drummer Joe Morello made his name with The Dave Brubeck Quartet. He played drums on their infamous tracks such as ‘Take Five’ and ‘Blue Ronda à la Turk’. Take Five was notably written as a drum solo in 5/4 timing. With Master Studies, Joe has compiled a selection of his favorite rudiments and exercises. Some topics include accents, single and double stroke rolls, buzz rolls, flams, endurance exercises and dynamic development. This is one of the best snare drum books out there and is suited to all players from beginner to advanced.
So who will enjoy this book? Well, anyone who wants to fine-tune their technique and coordination. This is a great jazz drum book too as it incorporates many rudiments in the context of playing time. It’s definitely one of thel best drum rudiments books out there, especially for those new to the art.
- Builds stick technique
- Coordination and dynamic exercises
- Focuses largely on the hands
Joe Morello’s Master Studies is a highly regarded drum book in the world of drumming. It will build hand technique and also give you a lot of ideas about how to improve your coordination on the drum set. Joe even recommends using some of his ostinato patterns in conjunction with Ted Reed’s Syncopation book.
Advanced Funk Studies by Rick Latham
Are you looking for a great drum set book? Well, Advanced Funk Studies by Rick Latham has been considered one of the best around for years now. This book presents the reader with a series of drum solos to perform. The solos are structured in a way from moderately easy to difficult. The challenges in this book range from speed to coordination and more. This is the best drum method books for funk playing. In fact, it’s not just limited to funk. The patterns contained within can be used in many different contexts.
- Challenging drum set exercises
- Memorable grooves which will seep into your playing
- Contains transcriptions of famous drum parts
- Not much focus on technique
This is a great book for all-round drummers. It contains exercises which will improve your playing and, importantly, your reading ability. Rick has structured the book so as to introduce the reader bit by bit into challenging concepts. He starts out with simple two handed patterns, then he introduces other limbs and finally he presents ten super cool and funky drum solos for you to perform. These solos also have recommended tempos to aim for. As well as his own brand of funk, Rick has also transcribed some famous drum parts from such contemporaries as Steve Gadd and Dave Garibaldi. This is also a great rock drumming book as many of the same techniques and patterns are applicable to rock too.
Rhythm and Notation for Drums: The Complete Guide to Rhythm Reading by Kev O’Shea
Have you ever wanted to master reading drum notation? Well, for many drummers, properly learning to read music is something they never get round to. So far we have focused on drum technique and coordination, but being able to read notation is extremely important. This book by Kev O’Shea brings the reader through the basics of drum notation from complete entry level to advanced. If you’ve ever struggled with notation in instructional books, then this book will explain all your queries in great detail. It’s specifically written for drummers and so contains a lot of the terminology and symbols which are relevant to drummers.
- Learn to read in a short time
- Comes with accompanying audio tracks
- Specifically written for the drum set
- Contains odd time explanations
- Has challenging solo exercises
- Not a drum technique book
For drummers wanting to learn drum notation quickly, this book is a great choice. It’s clear and concise and even comes with downloadable audio tracks so that you can easily compare what you read to what you hear.
Tommy Igoe Groove Essentials
Have you ever struggled at playing certain styles of music such as jazz or Latin? Well, Tommy Igoe has compiled a book of useful patterns which aim to assist drummers who struggle in this area. If you’re not sure what a samba is, this book will help you out. It’s a pretty neat idea by Tommy and gives a brief overview of what to expect whether you’re due to play a Texas Blues or a Cha Cha.
- Contains lots of usable patterns for many styles
- Simple and clearly laid out
- It helps if you are a good reader already
- More the kind of book you dip into now and then as opposed to a full course
This is a fun book to play along with, especially if you find yourself lacking inspiration. In such situations, you can easily open the book on a random page and find a pattern that will stimulate you into playing something which will likely challenge you in different ways.
Thanks for joining us as we document some of the best books about drumming. We hope that you find these books useful on your journey as a drummer and musician.
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