At Grade 4 you will be offered a choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation. This is a previously unseen test and an example is shown in the Grade 4 book.
Tempo: 80–90 bpm
At Grade 4 there is an element of improvisation. This is in the form of a two bar development. At Grade 4 the notation consists of quarter, dotted quarter, eighth, dotted eighth and 16th notes and quarter note and eighth note rests in 4/4. The test is 8 bars long and is on the whole kit. The examiner will allow 90 seconds preparation and practice time and will offer the option of practising with or without a metronome. The candidate will then perform the test for the examination.
Improvisation & Interpretation
Tempo: 80–120 bpm
In Grade 4, the improvisation and interpretation test contains a small amount of sight reading. This consists of a two bar groove at the beginning of the test. You will be asked to play the notation as indicated and complete the test developing the groove and ending with a two bar drum solo. This is played to a backing track of eight bars.
There are two tests which are: Fill Playback & Recognition and Groove Recall.
Fill Playback & Recognition
Tempo: 70 bpm
The examiner will play you a one bar fill played on the snare drum with a metronome backing. You will hear the test twice. The test is made up of quarter, eighth, eighth note triplets and dotted eighth and 16th notes. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar count-in. There will be a short gap for you to practise. Next you will hear a vocal count-in and you will then play the fill back with the metronome backing. The candidate will then be required to identify the test from three printed examples.
Tempo: 80-120 bpm
The examiner will play you a two bar groove that is repeated played on the crash, hi hat (open and closed), ride, bell of ride, snare and bass drum with a metronome backing. You will hear the test twice. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar count-in. There will be a short gap for you to practise. Next, you will hear a vocal count-in and you will then play the groove back with the metronome backing. You will then be required to identify the style of the groove from asset of three listed by the examiner.
General Musicianship Questions
For this section of the exam, the candidate chooses the piece to answer 5 questions on. The examiner will ask you four music knowledge questions and one instrument knowledge question.
In Grade 4 you will be asked to identify/explain:
- Drum voices on the stave
- The meaning of the time signature marking
- The meaning of bpm markings
- Repeat marks, first and second time bars, DC, DS al Coda, and al fine markings
- All note values in the chosen piece
- Equivalent rests
- One type of rudiment that can be used stylistically in the solo or development section of the piece
- Use of drum voices, rhythms and techniques in drum solo sections
In Grade 4, candidates will be asked to identify:
- Any part of the drumkit and drumstick
- How to tune the drum kit
- Cross stick, choke cymbal, bell of ride and accent