What Is a Drum Fill?
A good drum fill is a staple part of a drummers toolbox. But What is a drum fill? A drum fill is essentially a transition. It signifies an ending of a musical section, and moving into another. A drum fill is used to signify to a listener that the music is shifting towards a new passage, and a drum fill introduces something new and exciting.
Here is a list of 10 beginner drum fills which I have written to help add some excitement to what you are playing. These are all 1-bar beginner drum fills that take up the full bar line in standard 4/4 time.
Important tip: For all the following beginner drum fills, I have included 1 bar of a simple drum groove that appears before the beginner drum fill. This is to help you practice the easy drum fill as if you are playing it within a real musical environment.
Once you have mastered a drum fill, practice alternating between the groove and fill to develop smooth transitions between the two.
Beginner Drum Fill 1:
This is your very first beginner drum fill. It’s a combination of quarter notes, 8th notes and 16th note subdivisions all played on the snare drum. Let’s count this as ‘1, 2, 3-&, 4-e-&-a’ ! Try to make sure you play these all clean, with even dynamics – making sure your left and right hands are playing with the same level of power and consistency and hitting the middle of the snare drum.
Beginner Drum Fill 2:
Here is possibly the most popular choice of all the beginner drum fills around. It’s a classic drum fill – with running 16th notes beginning on the snare drum and then moving around the kit – starting from the high rack tom to the floor tom. You are playing four 16th notes on each drum. It’s a very common and effective fill that works great for lots of styles of music.
Beginner Drum Fill 3:
This is another very popular choice and still one of the most cool drum fills to play as an experienced drummer. It’s straight 8th notes played on the snare drum and floor tom together, whilst steadily increasing in volume as the bar goes on. This is known as a crescendo. It’s a popular musical effect that adds dynamic to music. You can even add bass drums on quarter notes to add some power and drive to the drum fill.
Beginner Drum Fill 4:
Up next we have a cool drum fill that begins with a crash cymbal and bass drum on the 1 beat. We then add four 16th notes on the snare drum, followed by two 8th notes on the rack tom, and then four more 16th notes, with the first hit on the floor tom with the right hand with the remaining played on the snare drum. It’s a variety of subdivisions much like in fill No.1.
Beginner Drum Fill 5:
Another really fun and popular drum fill – incorporating running 16th notes with the hands, whilst the right foot on the bass drum plays quarter notes. In addition to this, we’re also increasing in volume with a crescendo.
Beginner Drum Fill 6:
In this easy drum fill we introduce a new rhythmic grouping that consists of two 16th notes followed by an 8th note. This sticking pattern is RLR and it’s going to be counted as ‘1-e-&, 2-e-&, 3-e-&-a, 4’
Beginner Drum Fill 7:
Up next we have another great beginner drum fill, which is similar to the previous fill in terms of subdivisions and feel. But in this one we start off with a single 8th note followed by two 16th notes. So this sticking pattern is RRL – with the 1-&-a. Two 8th notes are played on the rack tom followed by four 16th notes on the floor tom, and then finished with two 8th notes with the right hand on the rack tom and left hand on snare.
Beginner Drum Fill 8:
This drum fill might take you by surprise! Within this list of easy drum fills it’s definitely the most simple. But it’s also very popular and also musically tasteful. Silence is great for building tension, and changing up the feel of the song, allowing the other instruments to continue whilst you drop out for a bar. Drop out on count 1 with a loud snare, floor tom and kick played together. Then come back in on the 1 beat of the following bar!
Beginner Drum Fill 9:
This cool drum fill is similar to No.6 with the starting sticking pattern of RLR that consists of two 16th notes followed by an 8th note, this time played on the rack tom. This is followed by four 16th note snare hits, and then two 8th notes on the floor tom and kick drum together. Finally we have two 16th notes on the snare drum and an 8th note rest. This is voiced as ‘4-e!’ with the ‘&’ being a rest.
Beginner Drum Fill 10:
Lastly on this list of easy drum fills we have triplets. These are 8th note triplets – with 12 notes per bar. It’s an incredibly versatile pattern and it’s simple to play. But the feel is very different to straight 16th notes. I like to count triplets as ‘1-e-ah, 2-e-ah, 3-e-ah, 4-e-ah’. Start off practicing them all on the snare drum before learning to play them around the kit like in this example. It begins on the snare before working your way around the toms.
Top Tips For Playing Beginner Drum Fills
Learning to play the various subdivisions found within these beginner drum fills relies on a good understanding of timekeeping, to know when to play the rhythms on which beats of the bar.
I would recommend investing in a good metronome to help you count and stay in time, and also build up speed as you become more confident with these easy drum fills.
If you are finding moving around the kit whilst playing the rhythms challenging, then start off by just playing the sticking pattern on the snare drum to familiarize yourself with the rhythm. Then you can move onto incorporating the toms.
Start off playing slow and then work up your speed incrementally. Don’t rush in by playing fast because it will sound sloppy and inconsistent!
Finally, remember that the purpose of a drum fill is to be a musical transition and to help guide a listener to the next passage in a song.
These beginner drum fills will help build a solid foundation and remember to practice alternating between the drum beat and the fill because this is how drum fills are going to be played within a real musical setting.