"Grades" for the drum set

beatdat

Senior Member
I have read in some threads people talking about their children having passed, for example, "Grade 5" or "Grade 7" on drums. I'm not getting the impression that their children are studying drums while in Grade 5 or 7 at school, but that they are actually in "Grade 5" or "Grade 7" on drums.

I know that the Ontario Royal Conservatory of Music has grades for piano and other instruments, but I have never heard of "grades" as it relates to the drum set - I know I didn't have that in middle and high school when I was playing in the school bands.

Does this exist? If so, how can I get a hold of the syllabus for each grade?
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
I have read in some threads people talking about their children having passed, for example, "Grade 5" or "Grade 7" on drums. I'm not getting the impression that their children are studying drums while in Grade 5 or 7 at school, but that they are actually in "Grade 5" or "Grade 7" on drums.

I know that the Ontario Royal Conservatory of Music has grades for piano and other instruments, but I have never heard of "grades" as it relates to the drum set - I know I didn't have that in middle and high school when I was playing in the school bands.

Does this exist? If so, how can I get a hold of the syllabus for each grade?
I believe it is a UK system thing from the various Royal conservatories.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
The top search-result where i live, is this, which also has references to Trinity College btw..:


https://www.elephantdrums.co.uk/blog/guides-and-resources/drum-grades-exams/
Thanks for the links, they look promising.

I believe it is a UK system thing from the various Royal conservatories.
I believe you're right.



Does anyone find value in these courses? I'm looking to take lessons again and they interest me.

Here's why.

I studied classical piano from ages 6-16 - lots of lessons, recitals, exams, sight-reading, theory, structure and books. I played percussion in middle school, and drums and percussion in high school.

I've also had a few drum teachers along the way. My first teacher was only a few years older than me, but was formally trained and taught me the basic rudiments. The lessons were somewhat helpful, but not all that memorable. My second teacher was a good guy, but hr didn't do much other than nod his head and say "cool, man" after everything I played. My third teacher showed me what it was to play drums and took me back to square one to do it. He is, to this day, the best drummer I know (and up there with anyone I've heard) and a good friend. The thing is, none of my teachers relied all that much on reading material, at least not to the degree that learning the piano did.

And that is the thing, because it's easier for me to learn if I'm reading what I should be playing. But I'm not looking to just be handed a bunch of different written exercises, I'm looking for something that's more structured and systematic in it's approach. And that's an issue I have with a lot of the books I've used, they're either too general in scope, too focused in scope, or don't progress in a systematic manner - or, at the very least, there's so many of them to choose from that it's easy for me to get overwhelmed and not know what to practice and when.

Any thoughts?
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
And that is the thing, because it's easier for me to learn if I'm reading what I should be playing. But I'm not looking to just be handed a bunch of different written exercises, I'm looking for something that's more structured and systematic in it's approach. And that's an issue I have with a lot of the books I've used, they're either too general in scope, too focused in scope, or don't progress in a systematic manner - or, at the very least, there's so many of them to choose from that it's easy for me to get overwhelmed and not know what to practice and when.

Any thoughts?

Drumming is to wast of an area.

This is one of the reasons I write my own material for my student's folders. It's divided in the areas I find most natural and then each area has modules to go through that are somewhat interchangeable. Was about to write a book based on it several years ago, but too much life happened.

The best guidance I can give is to keep a log and the do some research and get some lessons from specialists when questions arise.

Divide into areas that you find relevant and then figure out hat's the next logical step for you within each of those.

I'd advice to work on things in context and in baby steps. Be able to use something in a musical context and then just slowly add new elements as you master and can use them.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
The British ‘Rockschool’ books and exams are excellent, and are spreading around the world. Graded pieces with backing tracks for guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. I’ve been evaluating them fir my school. Highly recimmended.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
I don't know what is in these things but unless you are looking to do anything official with the UK music educational system, I don't know if any of that would actually help.

If it is just about wanting structure, there are a lot of very structured learning materials out there. There are a lot of great online lesson systems out there like Drumeo and Mike's Lessons.
 

TMe

Senior Member
The explanation I've read is that the drum kit is still a relatively new instrument (compared to classical instruments), and its inclusion in academic programs is even newer.

It took a long time for a defined, widely accepted, graded curriculum to emerge for the classical instruments. That hasn't happened yet for the drum kit. There are structured curricula out there, but none of them have gained wide acceptance, and there's still a lack of consensus about very basic things, like how to hold the sticks.

I think a well structured, graded curriculum would be a great place to start for someone who likes structure and doesn't want to waste a lot of time reinventing the wheel (which is what I did). At some point, though, you'd probably want to customize your studies and develop your own approach.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Working in education, I can say that grades are the de facto standard within Classical structures and have long been a part of the traditional music teaching in the UK. I've studied grades for singing when I was a teenager, my brother has grades in piano and French horn and I did some of the early Rockschool drum grades back in about 2002-4.

They generally provide a well-balanced and structured curriculum that gives a good foundation for further learning and almost always include technical exercises and listening exercises alongside learning from a selection of pieces as well as scales (and equivalently, rudiments).

I've always liked the idea and generally advocate it. I've met a lot of students that haven't studied grade repertoire that struggle to learn music on their own without a teacher's assistance because they haven't developed the necessary learning and practice skills. A grade syllabus encourages that and helps build that structured approach that is necessary for deeper study and learning.

I'm considering taking some grades in a couple of the instruments I play to reinforce fundamentals that are slightly missing (guitar, bass, etc.) for precisely that reason.

Any argument that they stifle creativity is utterly devoid of merit. Teaching somebody to teach themselves through learning how to practice and study methodically is a much better foundation than the scattershot learning I often see otherwise.
 

TMe

Senior Member
Teaching somebody to teach themselves through learning how to practice and study methodically is a much better foundation than the scattershot learning I often see otherwise.
Exactly.

I listened to an interview with a successful singer/songwriter who played keys. She completed grade 8 of the Ontario piano curriculum, but said she never really used anything beyond grade 5, since she was playing Pop/Rock music and not presenting herself as a virtuoso. She certainly didn't express any regret about completing the curriculum, though.

I lived with a teacher who claimed "You can't teach anybody anything. All you can do is create a learning environment." For a lot of people, a structured, graded curriculum helps creates a great learning environment.
 
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