Difficulty LevelThis free drum lesson, teaching an amazing drum fill/solo from the song Tom Sawyer by Rush, was voted for on the Drums The Word Facebook Page. You can view the fan page on Facebook by clicking here.

The drum solo that occurs at 2:33 really epitomises for me what I think Neil Peart’s drumming is all about; creativity, rhythmic variation and a little showing off! 😛 Neil Peart’s drum parts can be spotted a mile off because of these three aspects of his playing.

Lets now take a look at this four bar mini drum solo in a little more detail…


Tom Sawyer” – Drum Fill/Solo (2:33 Album Version)

View the video on YouTube HERE – Learn How To Play Tom Sawyer Drum Solo Video Drum Lesson (Neil Peart & Rush)


Tom Sawyer” – Drum Fill/Solo (Small Kit Version)

Tom Sawyer (Rush) Drum FIll 2:33

First off, this is not easy to play. The speed of the notes and the rhythmic complexity of some of the sections require both fast single strokes and a powerful sense of where the beat is. Saying that though, this is can be learnt by most drummers due to the fact that it doesn’t require any specialised techniques to play.

The first bar starts with some cymbal and bass drum crashes which then move onto thirty second notes around the toms, explained below…

Important Note: Neil plays the tom notes in the first bar down multiple tom toms on the original recording. Because most drummers don’t have a 17 piece drum set(?!) I re-wrote his parts to work on a standard three tom kit instead, as shown above.

Look out for the single crash cymbal and bass drum hidden on the ‘e’ of beat 4 in bar 1. This can catch you out…it does me!

For bar 2, Neil plays five crash and bass drum notes in a row, ending on beat 2 and played with the single bas drum foot. You can use the double pedal if you prefer of course. He then moves onto beat 3 of the bar to play a rather cool rhythmic idea. The bars below demonstrate how this part is put together…


Tom Sawyer” – Triplet Construction

Tom Sawyer (Rush) Triplet Construction

The first bar shows a simplified version of the lick that starts on beat 3 of bar 2 made up from basic eighth note triplets. Each group of three triplet notes takes up a whole beat of the bar. The second bar shows how the bass drum is inserted in between each of these eighth triplet notes. The third bar is the final version of the drum lick showing that each note in the second bar has been doubled up to produce the final rhythm.

You may notice that in the final version of the lick, the hands are tracing the eighth note triplet rhythm. If you can understand this rhythmic concept and start to hear the lick as triplets, then you will find this part much easier to play in time.

Ok, so on to bar 3 and we see a flam on beat 1, just after the triplet lick above, a quick roll down the toms and then this is followed by some rhythmically syncopated crash and bass drum stabs.

Neil Peart plays both the floor tom and medium tom together for beat 1 of bar 4 before throwing out crash and thirty second note tom flurries before the end of the bar. The crash and bass drum notes move across the beats of the bar and are not played on each downbeat of the bar.

So there you go, I hope this all made sense. Have fun with this cool drum fill/solo and email me if you have any questions. Speak soon! 🙂

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