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What’s Better: Drum Chops Or Groove?

Aaron Spears  /  UPDATED Oct 30, 2023

“You gotta chop responsibly and love what you do more than anything else.”

Aaron Spears is one of the most requested drummers we’ve had at Drumeo. And what an experience it was!

With huge gigs under his belt (like Ariana Grande, Usher and Backstreet Boys, the GRAMMYs with James Brown and American Idol tours), Aaron knows what it takes to play in the big leagues. Much of that is the careful balance between chops and groove.

Watch Lesson: Drum Chops For Beginners

Before his 2006 Modern Drummer Festival appearance thrust him into the spotlight, Aaron honed his chops by shedding in his basement, trading licks with other drummers every Tuesday. This casual gathering eventually grew into a “fight club but with drums” where 40-60 drummers – including some big names – would get together to share ideas and ‘battle’ for fun.

It helped him develop his skills while building on ideas he heard from other drummers.

In this lesson, Aaron talks about how to express yourself on the drums and be creative without taking away from the music. He cautions drummers to respect the instrument and respect the other musicians you’re playing with, and talks about musical styles where there’s more space to play around.

If you’re a Drumeo member, you have access to Aaron’s complete video course called “The Building Blocks Of Drum Chops”, a masterclass on how to approach chops musically and tastefully. If you aren’t a member yet, get a free 7-day trial to Drumeo here!

Lesson Index:
0:00 – SONG: “Caught Up” by Usher
3:55 – Introduction
6:30 – Finding the balance of chops and groove
9:50 – SONG: “Give The Lord A Praise” by Gideon Band
14:14 – How to approach chops in different musical styles
17:45 – How Aaron got into playing chops
21:00 – SONG: “No Tears Left To Cry” by Ariana Grande
24:35 – Tips for playing pop music
27:10 – Jamming to a click vs. a song
29:50 – SONG: “Gasoline Dreams” by Outkast
35:00 – Why you should chop responsibly
38:02 – The biggest differences between the Usher and Ariana gigs
40:30 – SONG: “Love Me Harder” by Ariana Grande
42:49 – Keeping the backbeat during fills
44:27 – Aaron’s advice to drummers
46:46 – SONG: “Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande

Aaron Plays:
Sonor Drums
Zildjian Cymbals
Remo Drumheads
Zildjian Drumsticks

Follow Aaron:

Aaron Spears had chops for days, incredible feel and groove, and the ability to make impactful musical statements. During his career he worked with artists like Lil Wayne, Carrie Underwood, Usher, Chaka Khan, Adam Lambert, The Backstreet Boys, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Ariana Grande.

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