How To Read Snare Drum Music

If you are a drummer and want to learn how to read snare drum notes, you've come to the right place. An ability to read basic drum notation is a very important aspect in drumming.

Understanding drum notes brings you to a whole new level of drumming. In this hub we'll go through the basics of reading drum notation, with a special emphasis on snare drum. Don't worry, learning to read notation is not as hard as most people think.

If you're really serious about learning how to drum like a pro, I would highly recommend taking a look at Learn & Master Drums. You'll learn everything - from the very basics to the most advanced techniques.

Snare Drum Notes

Snare drum is often considered the most important part of a drum set.
It can be part of a larger drum set, or it can be used as a stand-alone instrument like in marching bands.

Although drum music is written on a traditional music staff that has five lines and four spaces, there is an important difference. In drum notation different lines represent different drums. The notes, rests and time signatures are exactly the same as in standard notation.

The musical notation for a snare drum is usually on the third line, that is - in the center of a traditional bar of music.

Lets take a look at the following image:

Regular notes
Regular notes

At the left of the bar you can see a time signature (a fraction - 4/4) which indicates the number of beats per measure. In our case we have 4 beats or 4 counts per measure. Measures are divided by a line. Our image shows only one measure. By counting the measures and notes you get an idea about the beat.

In drum notation you will see two types of notes. A regular oval shaped, like in our image, or circle shaped with an X in it. The common note values are whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note, and sixteenth note.

The X note stands for cross-stick technique (crossing one hand over the other to create the distinctive cross-stick sound). Snare drum can be played using cross-sticking.

The best way to learn how to read drum music is by practicing it. It's definitely the most effective way to learn. Remember, musical notation cannot be learned in a single practice session.


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