How Do You Build Chops?

by Karl (@karldrumtech)

So what does “chops” mean exactly?

– “Dang that guy has chops!” 

– “The Trumpets have great chops this year”

– “How do you build chops?”

So, what is this term that everyone brings up?  Is there an official definition even though everyone pretty much knows what it means?

To me, I define “chops” as the muscles you need to develop in order to have the dexterity necessary to execute technical skills within your chosen art form (usually in the music field).

For example: In order for a Brass player to play their instrument, they need to develop certain muscles around their mouth.  For percussionists to play their instruments, they need to develop certain muscles in our hands.

If we are to agree that “chops” are muscles, then we need to look at building chops like strength training in the gym!  How do you build strength in the gym?  With resistance training and repetition.

Does this mean that drummers should start practicing with heavier sticks, play underwater and drum on pillows?  Maybe… but I do think the most effective chop builder is repetition for long periods of time without stopping.

In essence, we need to look at chop building for drummers as aerobic training where you do something for 5 minutes straight (or longer) without stopping, rest and then start the process again a few minutes later or the next day (if you plan on practicing other things).

So here’s a few examples of a few things you can do for 5 minutes straight for an intense aerobic workout for your hands:

– Singles

– Accents and taps

– Rolls

– Anything with flams (flam taps, flam drags, flam fives, etc.)

For further reference, check out this VIDEO and then let me know what you think! Do you agree with these techniques for building chops? What ideas do you have for chop building? I would love to hear from you!

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