How to Improve Your Tenor Arounds and Build Chops

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In this Drumline Chops Tech Tip, you're going to learn a great tenor exercise that will help you improve your rudimental chops as well as your consistency and flow as you move around the drums.  Let's get started!


Exercise Foundation

This chop building exercise is built off of the arounds for the Slow/Fast exercise.

There are four primary patterns that you need to learn that are great for helping you improve your motion from side to side across the drums.  The patterns are simply named after the number of notes within each of the basic patterns.  These include patterns of 7, 9, 13, and 15.

You'll notice that each pattern is an odd number so that you start on the right side of the drums with your right hand and play the pattern to move you across to the left side of the drums.  You then start the pattern off the left hand on the left side of the drums and it moves you back across to the right side of the drums.

This is an all around great way to start visualizing patterns as a quad player as well improve your flow and consistency as you move from side to side across the drums.


Chop Building Tenor Exercise


Chop Building Quad Exercise Sheet Music

In the sheet music, you'll see the individual patterns written out in eighth note fashion.

If this is the first time you've play an exercise like this, be sure to take your time getting the individual patterns down first.  Understanding how each of the eighth note patterns work and which had you start playing each drum on makes learning the sixteenth note single and double stroke versions much simpler to learn.


After you've learned and perfected all of the individual patterns, work them one at a time with doubles and then singles.  By going through this process you isolate each individual section of the exercise and work out any kinks you may have along the way. When you're comfortable with all of the sections in the exercise, put them together and play the entire thing from top to bottom slowly with a metronome.

"But I thought this was a chop building exercise...why would I play it slowly?"

Because above all you need to make sure you're playing with proper technique, good timing, great tone quality, and consistency as you move across the drums.  To do all of that, you need to make sure you put the time in practicing it slow and working it all out.  After you become comfortable with the entire exercise at a slow tempo, begin to bump up the bpms and feel the burn.


Things to Focus on While Playing This Drumline Exercise

As with any rudimental exercise, there are tons of things that you can and should be focusing on when practicing this.  Here are three of the big things to pay special attention to during this particular exercise:

1) Great Technique You want to make sure that your hands move and flow through the single strokes and the double strokes the same way they would if you were playing the exercise on one drum.

2) Great Tone Quality This follows along the same lines as great technique above.  You want to make sure that just because you're moving from drum to drum, you're not letting changing your technique or playing zones to cause poor tone quality.  Focus on creating a smooth and consistent eighth note or sixteenth note flow throughout the entire pattern or exercise.

3) Great Timing It's fairly common to rush the double strokes and drag the single strokes.  Make sure that you're comfortable transitioning between the two and that as you practice the exercise you're keeping the rhythmic integrity nice and controlled throughout.



This chop building quad exercise is more than just a chop builder.  It helps you develop ease and flow as you move from one side of the drums to the other, it improves your ability to transition smoothly from single strokes to double strokes, and it helps you practice consistent technique as you move along the X Axis.  As with any exercise, learn it slow and practice with a metronome.  As you get more comfortable with it, begin to increase the tempo while maintaining a high level of consistency in everything that you're doing.  

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Pat McLaughlin

22 January 2013 in Exercises
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Pat McLaughlin

Pat McLaughlin is the founder of Drumline Chops.  He graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in music education and is currently the percussion director at West Bloomfield High School.