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The May to July deadline is 8 April

Drums Grade 5

At Drums Grade 5 you'll develop your technical and soloing skills by learning a Texas shuffle and four-­way coordination. Exam time will test more sophisticated techniques by performing a mix of five longer compositions.

Key Skills at Grade 5

What you'll learn at Grade 5:

  • Snare drum techniques: cross stick, rim shot, Texas shuffle, four­way coordination
  • Single and double strokes, paradiddles, Flams and ruffs, rolls, hands and feet patterns
  • Playback and performance skills

What You're Marked On

Your Drums Grade 5 exam lasts 25 minutes and is split into five key sections.

Performance Pieces

At Grade 5:

  • Pieces last up to two minutes 30 seconds. Soloing and Improvisation develop more stylistic groove patterns. Coordination becomes more complex
  • Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate
  • Pieces are four pages long
  • There is an option of two Free Choice Pieces for a Grade Exam and three Free Choice Pieces for a Performance Certificate

Learn more about Free Choice Pieces...

Technical Exercises

A selection will be asked from six sections:

  • Single and Double strokes
  • Paradiddles
  • Flams and ruffs
  • Rolls
  • Hands and feet patterns
  • Fills

Sight Reading or Improvisation

At Grade 5 you will be offered either Sight Reading or Improvisation.

Sight Reading
  • Eight bars at 80-120bpm
  • Two bars of improvisation/development within the piece
  • On the full kit
  • 90 seconds' preparation and practice
  • Eight bars at 80-120bpm
  • Two­-bar groove notated. Groove developed and a two-­bar solo
  • 30 seconds' preparation time
  • One practise play-through, with backing

Ear Tests

There are two ear tests at Grade 5: 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
  • You will then have a short period of practice
  • You will 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

General Musician Questions are included to test your musical understanding and further instrumental knowledge. The five questions are broken down as follows:

  • Four questions on the piece, including 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
  • One 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

Drums GMQ Sample (137KB, .pdf)


Your Grade 5 exam lasts 25 minutes for a Grade Exam or 20 minutes for a Performance Certificate. Candidates are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes before their exam starts.

Get Started Today!

You can start working towards your Drums Grade 5 exam now! Simply buy or download the Drums Grade 5 book, and start preparing alongside your drums teacher.

If you don't have a drums teacher, you can quickly find the nearest teacher to you with our handy find a music teacher map.

Books for Drums Grade 5