Fast chops are an important element of a musician’s ego, and more importantly, his playing capacity.
A couple of truths about chops:
Fast chops are not developed overnight.
Playing with precision is more important than playing with speed
Playing with feeling is more important than playing with speed
Playing fast is impressive, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of one’s musical maturation.
When I think of the high-level musicians in the world, their technique is almost secondary to the aura they project on stage while performing. Wayne Shorter comes to mind. John Coltrane comes to mind. Stevie Ray Vaughn comes to mind. These are the players who breathe, sweat and bleed expression. This is the goal.
What is the key to perfect musical expression?
How much effort should be devoted to your chops, and how much to your internal musicality?
Why not a little self-experimentation?
Try this one… THE 7 DAY BIG CHOP CHALLENGE
1. Focus on speed for 15 to 30 minutes daily for 7 days.
2. In that time, devise a series of exercises focusing on sixteenth note runs. (Ex. scalar runs, runs with large/small leaps…just make them continuous 16th note runs). For starters, create 10 different, 2 to 8 measure, 16th note runs.
A) Day 1 = 100 bpm
B) Day 2 = 105 bpm
C) Day 3 = 108 bpm
D)Day 4 = 110 bpm
E) Day 5 = 115 bpm
F) Day 6 = 118 bpm
G)Day 7 = 120 bpm
4. If you accomplished this exercise, you have then increased your technical ability by 20 %.
5. Keep a daily log of your accomplishments as well as where you discovered weaknesses.
6. Remember this is an experiment in efficiency and effectiveness. DO NOT spend more than 30 minutes daily on this experiment, even if you did not perform as well as the day prior or get to where you wanted. That is the whole point. We can tweak the exercise for the next experiment.
This exercise is very basic, which is why I think it’s a good starting point for those who want faster chops with minimal time spent and maximum focus. I advise spending no more than 30 minutes on this exercise, daily. We don’t want to develop a repetitive stress disorder, as so many over-practicers throughout history have come to actualize. The goal is maximum progress with minimum effort. Give it a try and please report your progress in the comment section below. Have a nice week 🙂