6 Best Drum Books for Beginners & Intermediate Drummers

Updated on by Brett Clur | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Learning drums has become easier in recent years thanks to online teaching platforms. Back in the day, educational books were how everyone learned.

Drum books are still as popular as ever today though. They have so much material packed into one place, making them very convenient to have. They still can be effectively used as teaching and learning tools.

Here are some of the best drumming books for beginners and more advanced drummers.

Best Drum Books for Students of Drumming

Stick Control is undoubtedly one of the most famous drum books of all time. It was written by George Lawrence Stone for snare drummers, having a whole book full of hand exercises. It has basic to advanced rhythms, ranging through different rudiments.

The book aims to improve your technique, coordination, and flexibility. Although it’s written for snare drums, you can take the exercises and apply them to a drum kit as well.

Working through this book is a bit like meditating. You won’t see any obvious benefits straight away. However, you’ll see huge improvements in your playing after a while.

I use this book with my students to help them feel more free on a drum kit. The exercises take away stiffness in your wrists and encourage you to play with more control. Have you ever seen drummers that lack finesse and tend to play with tree-trunk arms? This book will help with that.

There’s an exercise in here called ‘The Stonekiller’ which I regularly use for warming up before a gig. There are plenty more like this where that came from.

The one downside of this book is that none of the exercises have any accents. Intermediate and advanced players will be able to work their own accents out. However, beginner players won’t know to do that.

  • Improves technique, flexibility, and coordination
  • Encourages stick control
  • Hundreds of hand exercises to go through
  • Exercises don’t have any accents

This book was designed for drummers to work on playing syncopated patterns. Syncopation is when you play irregular rhythms, something very common in drumming.

Ted Reed has included hundreds of solos with different subdivision types. The goal of the book is to strengthen your reading skills while giving you different rhythm ideas.

All the exercises in the book only have snare drum and kick drums notated. You can take the exercises further by playing a jazz ride pattern over the solos, increasing your limb coordination and independence. Any other pattern would work, but the jazz swing tends to work really well with the syncopation.

This book is endlessly challenging and has content for beginners and pros alike. It’s something that all drum students should own. Since we never stop learning, even the pros are still students of the drum kit.

It doesn’t have too many instructions, meaning beginners could be lost without any direction from a teacher.

  • Strengthens reading skills
  • Content for all levels of players
  • Will be used for many years
  • No instructions for beginners

Jim Chapin was a legendary jazz drummer who played with countless jazz ensembles in the 1940s. Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer is probably what he’s most famous for. It’s a method book that takes you through a progression of exercises that will develop your jazz swing grooves.

Although the book is designed with the jazz drummer in mind, it will help all drummers with independence between your hands and feet.

This book is what will take intermediate drummers into advanced drummer territory. I remember starting it with my drum teacher back in the day and getting stuck immediately on the first exercise.

I see the exact same thing now with my students. However, the rest of the exercises become a little easier once you get that first one down.

The book makes you play different subdivisions on the snare and kick drum while maintaining a simple jazz ride pattern. It will help you develop a broad vocabulary for jazz, stretching your ability as much as possible. It has quite a few written solos that would be very useful to use for drum performances.

This book is definitely not for beginners!

  • Improves your jazz swing vocabulary
  • Great for improving hand and foot coordination
  • Will take intermediate drummers into advanced territory
  • Not for beginners

As a teacher, Groove Essentials 1.0 has been one of my greatest teaching tools. As a performing drummer, it has been one of my greatest resources to learn from. Tommy Igoe has taken all his knowledge of different styles of music and put it together in this book.

It contains one bar grooves for several styles of music with two different variations of each groove. There is a groove per page, with each page containing a full chart and professionally recorded backing track to play along to.

The point of the book is to learn different grooves and become a versatile drummer. Tommy Gives his insights into each style of music, helping you understand where it comes from and how to improve the music with your drumming.

I once played a theater gig where I was required to play a Mozambique groove. I had no idea what that was or how it sounded. I found it in Groove Essentials, practiced a bit and I was good to go!

If you want to be versatile in your playing, you need to get this book.

  • Improves versatility
  • Includes professionally recorded backing tracks
  • Unique insights into different styles of music
  • Difficult to hear the click in some of the backing tracks

Drums for Dummies is an instructional book written by Jeff Strong that is intended for beginners. It takes you through all the basics of percussion and rhythms, allowing you to slowly learn how to play percussion.

This book is extremely organized, making it quite attractive to beginners. It takes you through a bunch of percussion instruments, teaching you about their history and how to maintain them.

One of the best things about this book is Jeff’s advice on practice techniques. He gives valuable insights that you’d usually pay a teacher a lot of money for. These practice tips will help you improve as much as possible in a short amount of time.

This book will get you quickly playing basic beats on a drum kit. It even gives you a buying guide for if you haven’t bought a drum kit yet.

The book gives a lot of surface information on topics. If you want to dive deeper, you’ll have to find other materials.

  • Great for beginners
  • Gives history of percussion instruments
  • Includes a buying guide
  • Only has surface information

Basic Drumming is a classic drum instructional book that has been used by teachers and students for decades. It contains exercises that build on the fundamentals of playing the drums.

The book takes you through different rock, jazz, disco, and latin grooves. It also has time signature exercises, accent studies, and sticking patterns.

It’s one of those books that you can have on your shelf and pull out for some inspiration. As drummers, we often find ourselves sitting at the kit and having no idea what to practice. Basic Drumming has material for beginners and pros to work through.

One downside to this book is that the exercises aren’t written in standard drum notation. It’s not difficult to read, but it would be nice if it looked like every other book. 

  • Has content for all levels of drummers
  • Great for getting practice inspiration
  • The exercises aren’t written in standard drum notation

Reading Sheet Music

Many drummers toy with the idea of reading music. How important is it? Should you be able to read music to be a good drummer? Well, not exactly. There are so many proficient and accomplished drummers who have absolutely no idea how to read drum notation. However, it is important.

The ability to read music makes learning easier. All drum books work with notation, meaning you need to know how to read it to progress through the book. The ability to read also allows you to get more gigs.

Big band gigs, cruise ship gigs, and hotel lounge gig usually have charts for all the songs. You’re going to need to be able to read those charts if you want the gig.

You’re going to get further if you know how to read music than if you don’t.  

Applications of Drum Books 

Drummers will continue to use drum books for years. They are things that just keep giving. You can take exercises from them and alter them a bit to add freshness. If an exercise tells you to play something with your right hand, you could play it with your left hand instead. This opens up a whole new world.

If you decide to become a drum teacher, drum books are going to be your most valuable tools. There are so many educational aspects to them that help drummers who are learning.

I’d consider myself an advanced drummer, but I still use some beginner drum book exercises as warm-ups and easy jams.

Conclusion

There are a few staple drum books that most drummers own. They are such valuable tools, giving you so much content to play through. They’ll teach you to read music, play different rudiments and exercises, and explore different styles of music.

If you feel stuck in your playing ability, go and get yourself a good educational drum book to give you direction and help you improve.

Brett Clur

About Brett Clur

Brett has been playing drums for 18+ years. He's a huge drumming gear enthusiast and also teaches drumming to his students. He's most active on Instagram (@brettclurdrums), where he regularly uploads drumming videos.

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