QnA: Build Drum Chops

Question and Answer:  Build Drum Chops


The other day, I received an email with a question that I receive A LOT and I’m sure it’ll definitely help you out:

“Hey man. I saw your post on your website about how build drum chops. I have been working on my double strokes for a while. I started at about 100 bpm (double eighth notes) about a year and a half ago, now im up to about 210 bpm – 220 bpm. I know I can get faster, but when I warm up Ill stary at 70 bpm, and once I get to 210 to 220 bpm, that is as fast as i can go. I would like ot be able to get to the point where I can play single strokes (normal speed) and double them no problem. I can play 210 bpm for a coupl eof measures. Once I get to 220bpm I can only play for a measure before slowing down.

Buile Drum Chops

 Any tips or suggestions to get faster and build drum chops?

AH:  Mike, hey man thanks for the feedback.  Really appreciate it and  glad you’re enjoyin the stuff here on Clean-Beats.com.  So it sounds like you’re on the right path in terms up bumping up your speed and your road to build drum chops.  You’ve built up your doubles and now you’re looking to match up your singles in terms of speed.  I can see that you have some Tempos set up, which is fantastic and not as common, but ultimately I’d say you need a bit more structure to build drum chops. First and foremost, I should address one thing:

YOU SHOULD NEVER PLAY UNTIL YOUR HANDS GIVE OUT AND FATIGUE AND LOSE ENERGY.  That’s working and teaching your arm muscles failure and you don’t want to get in the habit of failure. Also you’ll lose all of your energy to continue to work. You CAN’T gain drum chops that way!

To really build chops, I’d say don’t worry so much about those HIGHER TEMPOS like 180bpm or 220bpm, but work more in the slower tempos, while playing faster rhythms.  In working in the slower tempos, you can really ensure that you maintain your hand technique, as well as develop your stick control.  Get me?  Don’t worry so much about 220bpm.  That’s just a number.  Too many young performers worry about playing at “high” tempos, but you can build plenty at slow tempos by adding in notes.
What’s more important and that I’d focus on is clearly setting up a practice schedule and system.  You can read more about my exact practice schedule here.
Now, I’d definitely set out a couple of exercises and really look to work on those at extremely SLOW tempos.  The slow tempos help your hands learn to really optimize HOW to play.  From there, your muscles will build naturally, and then from there all you have to do is work on longer endurance, longer exercises.
Here’s your 7 step guide to build drum chops of what I would do in your shoes:
  1. Establish Specific Drum Chops Goal: Take a piece of paper and write out a very specific goal I want to accomplish – ex.  you want to build your singles faster – 16th notes at 220bpm.  List them out in bullet form or numbers, then you can cross them out as you reach them.  Remember, be as specific as possible!
  2. Test Current Drum Chops:  Test how fast you can play them now, and record how fast and how long.  – Remember stop about 2 measures BEFORE failure to ensure that you have enough energy to continue to work in building your drum chops.
  3. Get 2 Short Drum Chop Exercises:  EASY – Just Set up 2 short single exercises – what REALLY help me are paradiddle exercises and regular roll exercises – maybe whatever you play now.  You’ll play these about 8-10 times a day each.
  4. Get 2 Long Drum Chop Exercises:  Also easy, no rocket science here, just set up 2 long single exercises – this can be easy, if you want, I’d suggest doubling your short exercises or playing them 3-4 times in a row without rest.  ex.  Triplet diddle, then repeat 3-4 times without rest.  You’ll play these about 2-4 times a day.
  5. GO SLOW:  Spend time a the slower tempos and then bump up tempos in increments of 8bpm when you can for the short exercises and 12 bpm with the fast tempos.  Like I mentioned earlier, this ensures you maintain technique and develop proper control (how you hand hits the drum and controls the stick).  This is probably one of the most important ways you can build drum chops.
  6. Track Drum Chops Progress:  Do this daily, and track your progress on your way to build drum chops.  The short exercises teach your muscles to play fast, and the long exercises teach your muscles to play longer.  ALWAYS go for technique FIRST.  No point if you can play super fast with BAD hands. ;\
  7. REST! : MOST YOUNG PERFORMERS WILL DISREGARD THIS CRUCIAL TIP IN ATTEMPTS TO BUILD DRUM CHOPS HOWEVER IT IS ESSENTIAL!  Schedule days of rest, like maybe Sundays or every couple of days.  It’s important to let your hands rest to repair and build up in order for your drum chops to continue to grow.  Like any muscles in your body, your hand and forearm muscles have to rest in order to repair and build stronger.  Trust me, when you go back to pick up your sticks, you’ll TRIP out on your drum chops progress,  how fast you can play and how much more control you have.
If I had to go back to day 1 or drumming, this is the EXACT list I’d use to build my drum chops FAST.  I hope this helped you out Mike and everyone else out there looking to build drum chops.  Be sure to post your progress, comments or suggestions; I’d love to hear the feedback.


Work hard but with good technique,
Anthony Huerta, DCI-WC HP


P.S.  If you have something that’s been helping YOU to build drum chops, be sure to post it in a comment for others to see.



Incoming search terms:

  • how to build drum chops