Wondering how to learn beatboxing?
Beatboxing is a fun way to add more music and creativity to your day-to-day life. And the best part is, it’s easy to learn and doesn’t involve buying an expensive instrument—you already have everything you need to start beatboxing today!
Before diving in, let’s answer a few frequently asked questions from aspiring beatboxers.
Is beatboxing easy?
Like any skill, beatboxing requires a lot of practice. It may come a bit more naturally to people who understand the basic principles of how to create a drumbeat, but anyone can learn how to beatbox with enough dedication. We don’t normally use our mouth and throat to make drum sounds, so it takes time for our bodies to get used to it, perfect each sound, and develop muscle memory.
Can you teach yourself to beatbox?
You can absolutely learn how to beatbox on your own by watching online tutorials. If you’re a complete beginner, start with Richie Hiranandani’s Beatboxing 101 course—you’ll learn beatboxing basics, as well as a few really impressive special effects.
Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s all about practicing as much as you can and developing your own style.
Is beatboxing harmful?
Beatboxing using your mouth is completely harmless. Beatboxing using your throat is about as harmful to the vocal cords as singing.
For beatboxers who perform regularly and rely heavily on their throat to create special effects, there’s a small chance of running into issues like vocal strain and vocal nodules, but these can be easily prevented with proper technique and breath support.
All that to say, if you’re a casual beatboxer and you don’t overuse your throat, you’ve got nothing to worry about!
A Quick History of Beatboxing
Techniques similar to beatboxing have been around for centuries (have you ever heard of eefing?), Paul McCartney can be heard beatboxing in a 1969 record, and Michael Jackson was known to regularly beatbox as part of his songwriting process.
However, beatboxing as we know it today was born on the streets of New York in the early ’80s, along with the rise of hip-hop culture. The term “beat box” originally referred to just that—a box containing a drum machine. When rappers wanted to create music, but couldn’t afford a proper drum machine, they imitated the sounds with their mouths. Thus, a new art form was created.
Today, beatboxing is a must-have among acapella groups, and a well known art form in popular culture. The rise of online video has made it possible for people to not only learn how to beatbox, but also contribute to its evolution by innovating and sharing their skills.
How to Beatbox in 4 Steps
Step 1: Learn the Basic Sounds
First, let’s go over how to learn beatbox building blocks: drum sounds. The three most important sounds you need to know are the kick drum, snare, and hi-hat.
Try saying “Boom” and notice the sound you make on the letter B—that’s your basic kick drum. From there, try to get more air through your lips, while still keeping them almost shut. You can add a pitch to your kick drum if you hum the rest of the word “Boom.”
Think of the “Pft” sound you make when you hear something laughable—that’s a great snare sound. Again, try to keep your lips as close together as possible, while purposefully expelling more air. Though there are many options for how to create a snare sound, this is a great one to start with when you’re just learning how to beatbox.
With your tongue hitting the back of your teeth, make the “Ts” sound. You can make it really short for a closed hi-hat sound or, if you want to imitate an open hi-hat, extend the “s” sound and open your lips slightly to let out a bit more air.
Step 2: Make a Beat
Once you’ve practiced these three basic sounds, it’s time to put them together. Don’t worry if they don’t sound perfect just yet—you can always refine them later.
Start by combining the kick drum and the snare. Here’s a simple pattern you can try: B—Pft—B—Pft—B—Pft—B—Pft
Once you’re comfortable with that, try adding a closed hi-hat sound in between like this: B—Ts-Ts-Ts—Pft—Ts-Ts-Ts—B—Ts-Ts-Ts—Pft—Ts-Ts-Ts
That’s all there is to it!
Step 3: Practice
When you’re first learning how to beatbox, every little bit of progress seems exciting and motivating. However, you’ll inevitably reach a point where it doesn’t feel like you’re getting much better. The key is to persevere past this point and keep practicing. Find any excuse to practice as often as you can—practice in the car, in the shower, or while you’re doing the dishes.
If you’re serious about learning how to beatbox, music should be your number one source of inspiration. Actively listen to your favorite songs, try to identify what individual drum sounds make up the beats, and beatbox along with them.
Step 4: Add in Special Effects
Once you’re comfortable beatboxing with the three basic sounds, it may be time to introduce some other special effects. Hiranandani covers a number of these in his Beatboxing 101 class, including how to do a throat kick, click rolls with the tongue, and imitate disc scratching. Be sure to check out the rest of his lessons and record a student project to show off your progress!
Ready to Start Beatboxing Today?