Laying down a beat...

Photo of a snare drum

The parts of a drum set were designed to create beats by allowing the drummer to sit down and use all four of his limbs to play up to four drums or cymbals at a time. A right-handed drummer would place his right foot on the pedal of the bass drum, which is the big one mounted sideways on the floor, and his left foot on the hi-hat. As a general rule, a drummer laying down a rock beat would play the hi-hat with the right hand and keep a steady "click" on the snare drum with the left hand. Assuming you're listening to a song that has four beats to each measure, in a typical rock song you could play four beats on the hi-hat with your right hand, keeping it closed all the time with your left foot. At the same time, every time you count "one" and "three" hit the bass drum pedal, and every time you count "two" and "four" hit the snare.

Holding the sticks...

Photo of hand holding stick in matched grip. A right hander would hold the stick this way regardless of style...

You don't hold a pair of drumsticks like you would hold a hammer, in "matched grip," which is how Ringo Starr played, you would grip each stick between the thumb and forefinger, and close the other fingers around the butt of the stick, using your thumb and forefinger as a fulcrum. In "traditional grip," the dominant hand holds the stick the same way, and the weaker hand holds the stick end between the middle and ring finger, closing the index finger and the thumb over the butt of the stick. This grip allows for an angle that improves subtle and complex patterns on the snare but tends to compromise power.

Photo This is what trad grip looks like...

Which grip is better? This all depends. Some drummers find one way or the other more comfortable and stick with that. Some jazz guys will turn down their nose at a player playing in matched grip, and there sure aren't many metal bands out there that have drummers who play trad style. Some of the best players I've known will play jazz in trad grip and other styles in matched grip. There are purists from both sides who will constantly preach about the benefits of each style. It really doesn't matter -- play in the way you feel most comfortable. I have gone back and forth between both styles for years. The way I look at it, ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice...

About time signatures...