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Reading Drum Notation

This lesson is intended to give you a quick-overview of all the drum notation symbols used on this website. You can think of this page as a drum-key or legend for all the different drum set voices that you play within beats, fills, and solo patterns. You can refer back to this page if you are ever uncertain about what is to be played within certain sheet music exercises.

Note: Each measure includes four quarter notes that repeat the symbol used to notate various drum set voices. Keep an eye on the vertical position and note-shapes. They are the main differences between symbols.


Use this lesson in conjuction with the lessons on counting quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, eighth note triplets, sixteenth note triplets, thirty-second notes, and rests if you want to master the ability to sight-read drum notation. It's an extremely valuable skill to have as a drummer!

More Online Resources

If you struggle with reading drum notation, you should consider investing in a DVD-based training system such as The Cobus Method or the Drumming System.

Drumeo Edge is the ultimate online drum lessons experience, where you'll get a new drum lesson every day, goal-oriented student plans, video hangouts and reviews, and much more. With 20+ instructors and thousands of students from around the world, you'll always get the motivation and support you need to reach your drumming goals. Visit www.Drumeo.com for more information

The Cobus Method will help you learn to play the drums completely by ear - with NO sheet music and NO music theory. Visit www.CobusMethod.com for more details.

The Drumming System includes the cutting-edge "Smart-Beat Technology", which essentially reads the sheet music for you on-screen. You'll still be following sheet music, but it will be much easier to understand. Visit www.DrummingSystem.com to watch the preview video.

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