Drumkit Grades - Are They Important?

doing gigs grades May 26, 2023

Drumkit grades, offered by various examination boards like Trinity, ABRSM, CPM in Australia, and others, have become a prominent aspect of music education. These structured syllabuses provide a framework for assessing a student's progress and skill level on the drumkit. This blog aims to explore the worthiness of drumkit grades, their prevalence in school music programs, their impact on goal setting for young students, and the potential drawbacks associated with an excessive focus on these exams.

I. The Benefits of Drumkit Grades:

  1. Skill Development: Drumkit grades provide a systematic approach to learning and mastering the instrument. The graded syllabus guides students through a progression of technical exercises, musical pieces, and sight-reading, promoting well-rounded musicianship.

  2. Standardized Evaluation: These grades offer a standardized assessment method, ensuring that students are evaluated fairly and consistently. It provides a benchmark against which their progress can be measured and compared.

  3. Motivation and Goal Setting: Working towards drumkit grades can be an excellent motivational tool for young students. It offers a clear goal to strive for, creating a sense of accomplishment and fostering discipline and dedication in their practice routines.

  4. Performance Opportunities: Drumkit exams often include a performance component, allowing students to showcase their skills in front of an examiner. This experience can help build confidence, stage presence, and the ability to handle performance anxiety.

II. Prevalence in School Music Programs:

  1. Integration into Curriculum: Many school music programs incorporate drumkit grades as part of their curriculum, providing students with a structured pathway for musical development. This inclusion ensures that drumming is treated as a legitimate musical discipline, receiving attention and resources.

  2. Broadening Musical Horizons: Drumkit grades expose students to various musical styles and genres. The syllabus typically includes pieces from different eras and cultures, expanding students' musical knowledge and appreciation.

  3. Recognition and Validation: Attaining drumkit grades can be a valuable form of recognition for students. It demonstrates their dedication and hard work, and it can serve as a tangible credential for future musical pursuits.

III. Potential Drawbacks:

  1. Limited Focus: An excessive focus on drumkit grades can sometimes narrow the focus of students' musical education. They may become overly fixated on preparing for exams, potentially neglecting other aspects of musicianship such as improvisation, creativity, and playing in bands or ensembles.

  2. Pressure and Stress: The pursuit of drumkit grades can introduce additional pressure and stress on students. The emphasis on achieving a particular grade may lead to heightened anxiety and the perception that musical success is solely determined by exam performance.

  3. Lack of Guarantee: While drumkit grades provide a structured framework for skill development, it is essential to recognize that achieving a high grade does not necessarily equate to being a proficient drummer or musician. Grades should be viewed as milestones in the learning journey rather than definitive measures of talent or musicality.

Conclusion: Drumkit grades offer numerous benefits to students, including skill development, standardized evaluation, motivation, and performance opportunities. When integrated into school music programs, they can enhance musical education and provide recognition for students' achievements. However, it is crucial to strike a balance and avoid an excessive focus on grades at the expense of broader musical development. Ultimately, drumkit grades should be seen as a tool for goal setting and growth, while recognizing that true musical proficiency extends beyond exam performance.

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