Here’s a confession, I love books. But I hate being overwhelmed by a huge book list that I’ll never seem to be able to complete. So, here’s my Top 5 drum books for beginners.
Sure, drumming is an ‘active’ hobby. i.e. you’ll need to clock practice on a drum kit to improve efficiently.
But hey, as the saying goes; “you don’t know what you don’t know“.
You could be practicing on the drums for years without ever realizing that you’re missing a key technique that’s been limiting your growth as a drummer!
Hence in my opinion, books (on top of YouTube and Reddit) are a good avenue to discover what I don’t know.
Drum Books for Beginners
Here are some books on drumming that I’ve found useful. Hopefully, you’ll find them useful as well.
A Fresh Approach to the Snare drum by Mark Wessels
This is a widely recommended book for drummers.
The content structure is well thought out, so a drummer of any level can pick it up and still learn something new.
In my opinion, it is THE resource that every beginner self-taught drummer must own. If you are totally new to music and drumming, you will find this especially useful because you’ll probably find the answer to any question you have about the fundamentals of drumming in here.
In fact it may prove to be even more useful than the popularly recommended “Stick Control for Snare Drummers” resource.
Mark Wessels has crafted his lessons in a way that will allow any beginner to learn to drum in a systematic manner. Lessons start off by focusing on the fundamentals and build off each other as you move through the book.
If you are an intermediate or even advanced drummer, you’ll find sections and practical exercises designed to help you improve on different aspects of your drumming.
What to expect in the book
- Fundamentals of music
You can expect to master the key fundamentals of music such as time signatures, music chord reading and more with this book.
If you are new to music and drumming, you’ll find the section on the fundamentals of music very useful.
- In-depth introduction to the Snare drum
The first issue you’ll face when you get your own drums is, tuning.
Mark Wessels explains how you should be tuning your snare drum properly.
- How to hold your drumsticks
With your drum set good to go, your next question would be “how do I hold my drum sticks?”.
There are 3 common drumsticks gripping techniques.
You’ll find everything you need in this book to start drum efficiently with the different types of grip.
- Strong Focus on Rudiments
Through the lessons outlined by Mark in the book, you’ll get intimate and familiar with the drum rudiments.
You’ll definitely find the accompanying videos he produced with Vic Firth very useful in clarifying each of the lesson in the book.
- Practical drum exercises
Mark breaks down the rudiments and how they work very clearly. He also provides effective drum exercises that will help you master them.
On top of those, he provides warm up drum exercises into his syllabus.
I also love that he has thoughtfully inserted exercises that will help improve your timing, just when you’re ready.
As the book focuses on drum exercises for the snare drum, you’ll find that you can use the very same exercises on your practice pad at home as well.
On top of the instructional content in the book, you also get:
- 1 instructional CD with MP3 that accompany the lessons
- Vic Firth’s rudiment poster
- Useful video lessons that complement the book
The book is so popular that Vic Firth has worked with the author, Mark Wessels to come up with a series of video tutorials. So now, you get video bonuses when you purchase the book too~
You can find ‘A Fresh Approach to the Snare Drum’ at various online book store.
Stick Control for Snare Drummers by George Lawrence Stone
Written in 1985, this book remains highly sought after and recommended today. Chances are if you had asked any drummer for learning resources, you’d definitely have heard of this book.
What to expect in the book
- Stick Exercises
What you’ll find in ‘Stick Control for Snare Drummers’ are tons of no frills drum practice.
There are only 2 pages of introduction before it jumps straight into 50+ pages of stick exercises listed to help you build the muscle memory that every drummer needs.
Regardless the genre you play in, practicing the exercises in this book will give you a strong foundation to drumming.
You’ll find that the muscle memory you build up over time will come in handy when you need to perform riffs or solos.
All these exercises can also be practiced on a drum practice pad, which is great for aspiring drummers who have yet to purchase their own snare drum or drum set.
If you ever feel like you’ve reached a plateau in your drumming journey, refer to this book.
You’ll definitely find a practice set that will help you improve.
You may find a copy of ‘Stick Control for the Snare Drummer’ here.
The Drum Rudiment Bible by D. Mark Agostinelli
In 2010, Mark decided to compile a go-to book for drummers and this became what he calls the ‘drum rudiment bible’.
And well, it’s been adequately named the ‘bible’ in my opinion.
What to expect in the book
- Drum Rudiment Exercises
With over 500 drum rudiments in this gigantic book, there’s no excuse to run out of material to practice ever again.
In fact, if you ever find yourself bored and need something to spice up your drumming sessions, just flip through the Drum Rudiment Bible for some inspiration.
Exploring and practicing these rudiments will ensure that you’ll develop your repertoire of drum fills as well.
Some of the rudiments can be difficult to break down and play at first glance. Good news! Mark has release videos that explain and break down selected rudiments. I hope he releases more but in the mean time, check out his YouTube channel!
You may find copies of ‘The Drum Rudiment Bible’ here.
4 Way Coordination by Marvin Dahlgren and Elliot Fine
The books listed above are highly focused on stick control. They will help you to develop your hand skills.
Once you’ve developed competent stick control, its time to start working the next essential skill set that every drummer needs to develop; ‘limb independence’.
Dahlgren and Fine developed a training system that aims to help you develop complete independence on the drum set, giving you the confidence and skills to play faster and with more creativity.
What to expect in the book
- Structured training system
Broken down into 8 major segments, drummers who struggle with hand and leg coordination on the drum kit will find the exercises in this book very useful.
Each segment builds on the previous allowing you to develop coordination and independence across your limbs, and at different time signatures.
Personally, I’ve found the complete independence training at different time signature very useful.
You’ll build muscle memory along with the ability to keep time.
On top of that, as you progress along these exercises, you’ll start to notice that odd time signatures are not as intimidating as they use to be.
If you jam with a band, they’ll definitely notice the improvement in your timing and confidence.
- Practical exercises
It isn’t all talk and no practice.
Afterall, you’ll need to spend time on the drum kit to develop your drumming skills.
You’ll find practical drumming exercises at each stage of the training system in the 4-way coordination book.
You may be able to find a copy of ‘4-Way Coordination’ here.
Tradition of Excellence Book 1 – Percussion by Bruce Pearson and Ryan Nowlin
Warning. This book is advanced and can be a little intense.
Although there are useful tidbits inside, it may not be suitable for most hobby drummers.
The ‘Tradition of Excellence’ series by Person and Nowlin is a full curriculum created for music educators to impart the skills of playing in a orchestra band.
There are five books in the series, one of them focuses on Percussion.
You will find useful information for drummers who want to transition from a hobbyist to a gigging drummer.
What to expect in the book
In it, you can expect to pick up advance music theory as well as specific lessons on sight reading, rhythm studies, playing chops, and more.
As a reminder, this book is really for advanced drummers.
It focuses (a tad too much for the uninterested) on music theory as well as essential skills to playing in an orchestral.
However, if you’ve hit a plateau and can’t seem to break the barrier, this might come in handy.
Along with the book, you will also get:
- 1 DVD with complementary video lessons, accompaniment audio tracks, downloadable lessons and forms
You can probably still get a copy of the ‘Tradition of Excellence Book 1 – Percussion’ here.
There you have it!
These are the drum books that I think every drum beginner should own, and most importantly put to practice.
Let me know if there are drum books that should have made this list 🙂
By the way, these are affiliate links so I get a little tip if you buy using these links. You will not be charged extra.
Book depository provides free shipping on books, so I prefer to shop for book there. However, some classics are just not available there, so you may want to check with your local bookstores or music stores.
And oh if you’re not ready to commit to a drumming guide book yet, we have shared our drumming practices previously.
You can read and bookmark them here:
2 thoughts on “5 Essential Drum Books for Beginners”
Thank you Gracie,
When I saw that you reviewed one of my books, I was delighted. Seeing what you wrote encourages me to write more. A lot of people may not realize how hard that book was to write. It took about 7 years to gather all of those rudiments. Being that there was not just “One” source of information made it like nearly impossible to gather all of the information. I almost felt like Webster when he made the dictionary. I had all kinds of issues; like accidentally listing the same rudiment twice or issues with one group of people would name the rudiment different than another group.
Anyways, I am in the process of building a new website. I am going to link a couple of articles to your site.
If you want to check out the site its called http://www.thedrumrudiments.com It is still really new! Like; I am still designing it, kind of new.
Also, please reach out to me with the email I am using on this form. I am going to be writing another book soon. On the back cover, I wanted to put some quotes on the opinions that people have of the book. So get in touch with me, I want to get an official quote from you, so it’s published on the back cover with your name on it.
D. Mark Agostinelli
The Drum Rudiment Bible
Woah, Mark! I’m honored by your response!
The Drum Rudiment Bible is definitely a key resource for me, in fact it still is today! 🙂