How to play “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift

Producer/Songwriter Max Martin, who wrote and produced this song together with Taylor Swift and Shellback, is known for crafting simple, addictive hit songs filled with hooks. And what’s awesome about Shake it off is that one of the main hooks is actually the badass drum pattern that the song starts off with. Occasionally, you’ll hear me bickering about the abismal state of pop music nowadays and that it all sounds the same and that the soul is gone blablabla, but honestly, this song makes me happy every time I hear it. I had a great time learning the pattern and I hope you guys will enjoy playing it as well.

Here’s the complete drum pattern written out. I used QFG’s standard pad-layout with one optional change. On some kits it might sound nicer when you replace the ‘side-stick’ with a ‘rim-click’ or even just a ‘sticks’ sound. Those are subtle differences and up to your own personal preference. I used the rim click sound in the video.

Low Tom
Mid Tom
High Tom
Cymbal A
Hi Hat
Open HH
Hi Hat
Cymbal B
Cymbal C

For more information on setting up a rig for finger drumming and all the basic finger drumming techniques, I highly recommend checking out my free beginner lessons here, or this blogpost in which I explain all essential finger drumming techniques in 3 minutes.

The Diagrams

Diagrams for finger drumming Taylor Swifts Shake it Off

That’s the whole thing. Make sure you take your time, divide the whole pattern up in bite-size chunks and practice those chunks slowly and diligently until you can put them all together. Then gradually increase the tempo. If you have any questions or remarks, the best way to get a reasonably fast response is to leave a comment on The message boards.

Thumbnail photo by Eva Rinaldi