Drum Fill Lessons

A drum fill is a brief solo or spotlight on the drummer, usually played at the end of a musical phrase to mark the transition to the next section of a song.

The goal of this lesson series is to build your fill vocabulary while developing the ability to create, improvise and quickly learn fills by ear.

These lessons will walk you through the creation of drum fills from the ground up, so that you’ll learn the language of fills commonly used in popular music.

Each of the fills will be played with a beat to encourage steady time and smooth transitions. The lessons begin with sticking patterns that provide a clear physical reference to the pulse.

Watch this video to preview lessons and choose your starting point:

New to playing drum fills? Start here and work your way down:

Are lessons 1-12 too easy for you? Watch this video to preview lessons 13-24 and choose your starting point:

No problem? Great! Stuck? Remember these lessons continually build on material from earlier lessons. Take your time, review the basics and build a solid foundation by mastering lessons from earlier in the series. If hand speed is an issue, you may benefit from practicing a few rudiments each day. You can find the rudiments lesson series here.

By playing the fills at the end of four measure phrases, you will learn to place fills as markers for transitions between song sections. It is important to remember that drum fills serve a purpose in a song. Where, why and how you play a fill is more important than what you play. Taking a simple fill and making it sound good is always better than playing a complicated fill with poor timing or rough transitions.

As you progress through the series, you may discover that some fills require practice to work up to speed. Some lessons might take a week, while others will come naturally just in the duration of the video. Don’t feel rushed if you can’t play a fill right away. It is better to practice slowly and enjoy the process.

If you are working on a challenging fill, try memorizing it so you aren’t dependent on the sheet music or videos. This will help you internalize and master the fill. Speed will come naturally as a result of relaxed, controlled practice.

The Sheet music for the series is in e-book format here:

Fill Development e-book

I recommend printing or saving it locally so you can have it on your music stand as you navigate the videos and audio tracks.

Questions, comments or feedback? Join the discussion here.

Interactive, Goal Oriented