How to Read Snare Drum Music?

If you are in the lookout for improving your snare drum techniques, or just starting to read snare drum music, you need to follow some guidelines. The snare drum is one of the most imperative parts of your drumming kit and even as a solo instrument, it will be of utter importance to you.

Hence, mastering the snare drumming technique is quite essential for you as a drummer. The snare drum is what exists in the front-and-center while recording almost all kinds of genres. Hence, you can imagine its importance.

There are some of the key signatures that you should be aware of when reading the drum sheet music and we are here to elaborate on those to make life a little easier for you.

The Staff

This is how the music being played in visually displayed. You can envision a snare drum sheet music as consisting of two separate layers of symbols. On the first layer, you will find what we call the groundwork- the staff of the music. It comes with 5 lines and 4 spaces, and is over referred to as Stave.

The notes have to be placed on these 5 lines. It is here where you can read where you have to hit a certain drum or a cymbal.

The Drum Key: Where to Place the Notes

The snare drum sits between the bass drum and the high tom on the staff, which is the second from the left. The drum key comes in several versions. The fastest and the most convenient way to remember the position of the snare drum, as well as the other drums and cymbals, is to pay attention and memorize the height of a note on the 5-line staff.

The height will approximately tell you where to play the snare drum. For snare drum, your feet have to do pretty further, (not the furthest- that is for bass drums) in the staff.

The Time Signature

This is essential when it comes to reading notes of drums. The second layer that we initially mentioned comes to play in this regard. The time signature is the primary and most crucial symbol in this layer.

It has to be placed at the start of every piece of sheet music. The number denoted on the upper layer with the time signature tells you how many notes you must be playing.

The Music Notes for Drumming

The notes tell you what you are counting when playing the drums. You can distinguish among the most crucial notes by looking at their appearances.

  1. Whole note: It looks like an unfilled circle. This has a length of 4 beats.
  2. Half note: It looks like an unfilled vertical line with a circle (also unfilled) at the end. It has a length of 2 beats.
  3. Quarter note: It looks like a vertical line with a filled circle at the end. It has a length of 1 beat.
  4. Eighth note: It looks like a vertical line with a filled circle at the end and a tail. It has a length of 1/2 beat.
  5. Sixteenth note: It looks like a vertical line with a filled circle at the end and a tail just like the eighth note, but has an additional horizontal line above the tail as well. It has a length of ¼ beat.

When you play the Whole Note, you have to hit the snare drum on the count of 1 and then wait till you have crossed 3 additional beats (so after 2, 3, and 4). Then you will have finished the 4 beats overall.

When trying to play the half note, you have to hit the snare drum on the count of 1 and then wait till you the count of ‘2’. And then hit at the count  of ‘3’. You will then have completed 2 beats in total.

Since the Quarter note takes up one beat, you have to hit the snare drum on the count of 1 and be completed with it by the time you reach the count of ‘2’. You will then have completed 1 beat in total.

For the Eighth note, you have to hit the snare drum on the count of 1 and then hit once again exactly in the mid-way of the count of ‘1’ and ‘2’. You will then have completed half a beat in total.

As of the Sixteenth note, it will only last a quarter of a beat, and hence, , you have to hit the snare drum on the count of 1 and then hit once again exactly in a more detailed division between 1 and 2, as such that you make it to exactly the quarter of the beat.

The Basic Rock Beat

You, as the final step, need to take all the info displayed by your notes and then decipher the drum sheet. This can be determined using the order of dots and lines in the music sheet.

You must separate the parts being played on the different drums first, when you see the sheet. If the time signature reads 4/4, you must remember that 4 hits on the snare drum should happen on the count of 1 e and a.

Final Words

It really depends a lot on practice and exercises. You can learn to master reading the drum sheet music, understanding what to play on the snare drum, and also learn to play the drums with the best of techniques once you practice the exercises on each of the parts of the module- including the snare drum, which makes an integral part of the drumming kit.

If you follow the mentioned steps, considering each note and reading the sheet properly, you will ace at reading the snare drum music. It does not seem as complicated, does it? Simply check out the rules above and swing the snare drum away!

You can aso read: How to Choose Drumsticks

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