Drum Exams.

I had my first encounter with drum exams at 19. I was working in my piano teacher’s school at that time (as a drum teacher), and was thinking of upgrading myself. Back then, having about 6 years of drumming under my belt, I just about had the technical knowledge to teach, but unfortunately did not have the relevant papers to back up my credentials. Also, having had no experience in music exams or drum mentors to guide me, I felt really lost and eventually shelved the idea.

Fast forward to today, 15 years later, I have a diploma in ANZCA and a grade 8 in Rockschool, both in drumkit performance. Taking the exams were actually rather enjoyable (to some degree); having the technical ability built up over years of practicing, the mechanics weren’t super challenging, and I had the capacity to focus my efforts on the musical aspects of the pieces. This ultimately made learning and practicing exam pieces so much more fun. Preparing for exams wasn’t exactly a struggle for me, contrary to what most students experience when taking higher level exams.

My point is, we often have the wrong notion on why we take exams; to be “qualified” so that music schools will hire us in the future. As a result of this, many young students rush through their grades, only to end up having loop holes in their technique, and they scrape through their grades with just a mere pass. People often think “Paper Qualifications” come first, and they attempt to clear exam grades in the fastest time possible. Incorrect. In fact, this method will only lead to mediocre skills in the long run. The passion and inspiration that a budding drummer develops for the instrument is of utmost importance, only then can a drummer, or any musician for that matter, really flourish. Let’s not lose sight of why we learn the instrument in the first place. If achieving the coveted Grade 8 qualification causes the player to end up hating the drumkit at the end of the whole ordeal, I would say that it was time wasted, and that clearing the exams was all for nothing.

Nothing worth doing comes quickly and easily. Learning an instrument is a lifelong journey, if you plan to be serious about an instrument, and want to take exam grades and excel in them, be prepared to put in at least 8-10 years of work, unless of course, you’re prepared to practice 3-4 hours a day, then maybe you’ll achieve your goals slightly faster.

~Teacher Joel~

~Private Drum Teacher from Pasir Ris, Elias Road, Singapore~

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *