Chop Builders


I sometimes get the question on how I come up with combinations/melodies/fills around the kit. That’s a tough one to answer, because when I play, I play, and try not to think (in concepts and combinations).

Having said that, there are exercises that have helped me develop dexterity around the kit, and that allow me to move around the drums with more freedom.

Here’s an exercise I learned years ago, but I took it further and “put it through the wringer.”

I take a 4-note grouping (RLRL) and systematically substitute one hand with one bass drum (K), which gives me four variations:





Substituting two hands with two consecutive bassdrums also gives me four variations:





I recommend working on these combinations slowly, until you start to hear the rythmic melody in your head, and your hands and feet can execute the patterns effortlessly, even and relaxed. That’s very important. Don’t worry about speed. Instead, focus on relaxed control and playing “clean.”

Drop your shoulders, don’t hold your breath, and eliminate all unnecessary tension when you practice.

When I first started working on this stuff, I had a hard time staying focused, so I practiced on a practice pad and tapped my feet on the floor. That cut out the temptation to immediately play something else and focus on the basic mechanics of the exercises.

Start playing them as 8th notes first, and step quarter notes on the Hi-Hat.

For example:


I find it important to switch between the rates in a very systematic way in order to internalize the ways the rhythms feel in our body and how the melodies sound on the drums.

To get the most benefit from the exercise, play it in different rates, e.g., 8th notes, 8th note triplets, and 16th notes — Mark Guiliana calls this “The Loop:” 8th notes – 8th note triplets – 16th notes – 8th note triplets.

If the pattern is 8th notes, it gets played twice, triplets three times, 16th notes four times.

Time to break out the metronome and start s l o w.

Continue to play quarter notes with your left foot on the Hi-Hat.

You can download the free PDF here.

Here’s a short video, demonstrating the exercise. First run through is on the snare only, then I orchestrate the patterns around the toms.

I hope you find this helpful and inspiring. If you’re interested in drum lessons on Oahu, or would like to schedule a lesson online, please get in touch.


Available on



Adding the Bass Drum – The Loop


Fellow drummers!
Here’s the last video of my short drum lesson on timing/coordination/subdivisons/rates.
My playing is not as clean as I want it to be, … I’m still working on these drills and ideas, but that’s what practice is all about.
I hope you find the information presented inspiring and useful.
– Beck

Rates & 16th Note Variations


As a drum teacher I’ve noticed that one of the most difficult things for beginner drummers is to switch rates, e.g., to go from triplets to 16th notes, and moving between different 16th note variations.

This short exercise is designed so you can play along with me (or the click only), get comfortable with counting, and develop confidence in switching beats while keeping the tempo.

Try to keep a steady quarter note pulse on the bass drum during the exercise.

If you’re wondering about the sticking of some of the variations, you can find them in my PDF Kick Start.

– Beck

Ps.: I posted both play-alongs in the educational section on my website.


Get a Grip


Other drummers have asked me about my (default) grip. Just flip a stick and catch it. That’s it: The brilliance of simplicity.

Note: I use a middle finger fulcrum as my “home position,” the index finger comes in to close the hand, add control and pressure, only when necessary (fast doubles, press rolls, etc.).

This allows me to utilize the rebound I get from the drums and cymbals, and to play with the least amount of effort.



Drumming Videos



Here are two simple, yet cool triplet combos: ||:Left Right Kick:|| (Gadd is a master at this!) and then something I’ve heard Bonham do a lot: ||:Left Right Kick | Right Left Kick:||

In this songo improv I play open handed, aka left hand lead (I’m not crossing my sticks), which allows me to get around the kit more easily.

Here’s an Elvin Jones inspired afro-cuban pattern. It has a 6/4 kind of feel, and the hi-hat splashes and tom accents make it challenging to keep balance. I’ll try to follow up with a transcription, soon.

I recently came up with this cool beat:

8th note heel/toe hi-hat splashes over a polyrhythmic double stroke bass drum pattern. 1&A cymbal pattern + snare drum on 2&4.