Halftime grooves and feels can often expose note placement weaknesses within our playing. This Pocket Chop is linear-based and works well in halftime grooves and can easily be re-orchestrated around the kit depending on how small or big you want it to be.

This month we explore a balance between the pocket world and the chops world by diving into “pocket chops.” These techniques present an opportunity to play pocket but slip in a little sneaky chops every now and then—a little Tabasco on the scrambled eggs, if you will.

Ex. 1 is the first half of this pattern.

The second half is shown in Ex. 2.

Ex. 2

Ex. 3 puts them together.


Ex. 3

In context, this lick will lay nicely as it maintains a backbeat on beat 3 (Ex. 4).


Ex. 4

Simple variations can be created by replacing a bass drum note with a hi-hat with the foot (Exs. 5–7).

Ex. 5

Ex. 6

Ex. 7

The possibilities are vast, and we haven’t even gotten into moving the hands around to other surfaces such as side snares, electronics, hi-hats, stacks, and toms. Take this germ of an idea and make it your own.

Stewart Jean is Program Chair for Drums at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.

Lesson: Sneaky Thirty-seconds (Pocket Chops 2)

Lesson: Slippery Sixteenths (Pocket Chops 1)