Setting up Exercises and Drum Beats in MuseScore 2.0!

If you are a drummer and/or a drum teacher, it is often useful to be able to set up basic exercises for your students or yourself. I am going to show you how to easily do this in MuseScore 2.0. MuseScore 2.0 is a powerful open source notation software that can be used for everything from simple exercises to full scale orchestra and film scores.

First, we are going to develop a simple rudimentary exercise for the snare drum or practice pad. To get started, launch MuseScore 2.0 and click Create New Score from the Start Center:

The next screen is where you can type in quite a bit of information about your score. I am not going to enter everything here, but feel free to put in as much information as you want. I titled this particular example: “Snare Drum Rudiment Example.”

The next thing you will need to do is to select the appropriate instrument. Select Choose Instruments.

You will then select Snare Drum from the Unpitched Percussion category and click on the ADD button. Click on the NEXT button to move to the next dialog. The next dialog box is for key signature. Since this is for Snare Drum, no key signature is selected and you can simply click on the NEXT button to proceed.

The final dialog box allows you to specify a time signature. We are going to leave this as 4/4. You may also enter a pick-up measure and specify the number of measures in your piece if you need to.

Click on the Finish button. We are ready to start entering music!e are going to be entering two measures of 16th notes. Select the Note Entry Tool, by clicking on it or by using the keyboard short (the n – key), and select the 16th note value.

Notice down in the bottom right corner of the screen, MuseScore 2.0 tells you what keys you may use to enter notes. We are going to use the B-key.

Now simply repeat using the B-key until you have filled two measures. Unclick the Note Entry Tool so that it is no longer highlight. Now click on the 3rd measure and hold down the SHIFT key and click on the last measure. Use CTRL-Delete to get rid of all those extra measures we don’t need.

There, that’s better. The last thing we need to do is at the R and L’s needed for sticking indications. To do this, we are going to use the text tool. Click on each note, then click CTRL-T. This will place a text marker above the note. Enter an R or L as needed. the Here is the final product:


At this point you can print it from there if you would like to. I usually export it as a .pdf file though and print it from there so I can use it as a handout later. To do this you go the File menu and select Export  PDF. After that you simply give it a file name and save it as a .pdf as you normally would.

Creating Simple Drum Set Parts With Musescore 2.

The procedure to set up a basic drum set part is very similar to what we did above for a single-line snare drum. This time select, Drum Set from the Unpitched percussion category.

Notice that a five line staff is now displayed and there are more choices for the notes at the bottom of the screen.

Notice how there are different colors. This is Important! This is what Voice they are on. The blue notes are on Voice one and the green notes are on Voice two. We want the bass drum and the snare drum on the same Voice, so we need to change the snare drum. To do this, click on the Edit Drumset button.

Scroll down until you find the snare drum and change its Default Voice to Voice 2.
Now Enter the Bass Drum and Snare Drum by using the Note Entry Tool with the Quarter Note selected. You will end up with something like this:

Notice the stems are the wrong way for the snare. The rests need to go away as well. Let’s fix the snare stems. Deselect the Note Entry Tool and select the snare drum notes. You can change their stem direction with the Inspector:

That will fix the stems.

The last bit is easy, we need to add eight notes for the symbols. Since they are on another voice, simply go to the first beat and click on the Note Entry Tool and make sure the eighth note duration is selected.

Use the C-key to enter the cymbal hits.

There you have it – All done. You can print this or export it as needed.

More Complex Drum Set Parts.

For our last exercise, we are going to do something just a little more complex. We will be using a few tom toms, two bass drums, and a few cymbals. By using voices and doing some planning, it is relatively easy to do a complex setup.

We will put the snare and all the bass drums and toms on Voice One, and we will put all of the cymbals on Voice 2.

We need to add a second bass drum. This is typically assigned to the bottom line. I also put it on Voice One and assigned it to Key F, which I don’t plan to use for anything other than the second bass drum.

Use the Edit Drumset button to make sure all of the stems are pointing in the right direction, and every drum or cymbal is assigned to the Voice you want it to be notated in. After you have done that, the procedure for everything is exactly the same as described previously for the entry of notes. Start by entering the drums on Voice 1 and then proceed with the cymbals on Voice 2. I do recommend checking for a good drum legend such as the Drum Magazine Notation Guide. This will help you plan your notation.

Here is the final product:

There is a lot you can do with notation software. It just takes some planning and creativity. Have fun.


If you want to use Finale software to create drum exercises or drum beat notation then this tutorial is for you.