Grade 5

This section provides a summary of information about the Drums Grade 5.

Drums Grade 5 sections:

Key Features
Exam Structure
Related Products


Scroll through Drums sheet music samples at each grade.

Debut Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8

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Key Features

Key features learnt at Grade 5 are:

  • Snare Drum techniques: cross stick, rim shot, Texas Shuffle, 4 way coordination
  • Single and double strokes, paradiddles, Flams and ruffs, rolls, hands and feet patterns
  • Playback skills

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Exam Structure

The exam lasts 25 minutes and the structure is shown below:

  1. Pieces or technical exercises
  2. Technical exercises or pieces
  3. Sight reading or improvisation
  4. Ear tests
  5. General musicianship questions


At Grade 5:

  • Pieces last up to 2 minutes 30 seconds. Soloing and Improvisation develop more stylistic groove patterns. Coordination more complex
  • Candidates must prepare a total of 3 pieces for a Grade Exam and 5 pieces for a Performance Certificate
  • 4 pages
  • There is an option of 2 free choice pieces for a Grade Exam and 3 free choice pieces for a Performance Certificate. Also see our Drums Hot Rock Grade 5 Book

Technical Work

A selection will be asked from 6 sections:

  • Single and Double Strokes
  • Paradiddles
  • Flams and Ruffs
  • Rolls
  • Hands and Feet Patterns
  • Fill

Sight Reading or Improvisation

At Grade 5 you will be offered either Sight Reading or Improvisation. These are in three styles; Rock, Blues or Funk.

Sight Reading
  • 8 bars at 80 - 120bpm
  • 2 bars of improvisation/development within the piece
  • On the full kit
  • 90 seconds preparation and practice
  • 8 bars at 80-120bpm
  • 2 bar groove notated. Groove developed and a 2 bar solo
  • 30 seconds preparation time
  • 1 practice play through with backing

Ear Tests

There are two tests which are Fill Playback and Recognition and Groove Recall.

Fill Playback and Recognition
  • You will hear a one bar fill played on the snare drum. It is played twice with a metronome and can include triplet 8th notes
  • You will be required to play it back with a metronome
  • You will be required to identify it from three written examples
Groove Recall
  • You will hear a repeated two bar groove. It is played twice and can include swing rhythm
  • You will then have a short period of practice
  • You will then be asked to play the groove
  • You will then be required to identify the style of a list of three styles given by the examiner

General Musicianship Questions

For this section of the exam you choose the piece to answer 5 questions on:

  • 4 questions on the piece and include, drum voices on the stave, note values, time signature, repeats and 2nd time bars, stylistic choices for the piece and rests. One rudiment used stylistically in the piece
  • 1 question on the parts of the drum kit, the parts of the sticks, two makes of drums and cymbals, cymbal techniques (bell/choke) and stylistic techniques used in pieces

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Related Products

You may find the following books useful for preparing for the Drums Grade 5 exam:

Rockschool Drums - Grade 5

Rockschool Drums
Grade 5

Price: £14.99
Media: Sheet Music and CD
Language: English
Learn more...
Rockschool Drums - Hot Rock Grade 5

Rockschool Drums
Hot Rock Grade 5

Price: £20.00
Media: Sheet Music and CDs
Language: English
Learn more...
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