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The May to July deadline is 8 April

Drums Grade 6

Drums Grade 6 will expand your repertoire with more complex techniques and time­signature work. Your exam will test your skills across five longer performance pieces, while a Quick Study section will evaluate your powers of recall.

Key Skills at Grade 6

What you'll learn at Grade 6:

  • Time­signature changes, bass­drum doubles, polyrhythms, 6/8 trip hop groove
  • Single and double strokes, paradiddles, ratamacues, rolls, Stylistic Studies
  • Playback and performance skills

What You're Marked On

Your Drums Grade 6 exam lasts 30 minutes and is split into five key sections.

Performance Pieces

At Grade 6:

  • Pieces last up to two minutes 45 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 five sections:

  • Single and Double strokes
  • Paradiddles
  • Ratamacues
  • Rolls
  • Stylistic Study (chosen from rock/metal, funk, jazz/Latin/blues)

Quick Study Piece

At Grade 6, you will be offered a Quick Study Piece with a backing track in the style of the Stylistic Study chosen in the technical work:

  • Combination of Sight Reading and Improvisation
  • Full version heard once (with drums playing notated parts)
  • Three minutes' preparation/practice time
  • One practise run­through, with backing

Ear Tests

There are two ear tests at Grade 6: Fill Playback and Recognition and Groove Recall.

Fill Playback and Recognition
  • You will hear a one­bar fill played on the snare drum. It is played twice with a metronome and can include 16th-­note sextuplets
  • 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 a swing rhythm
  • 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 four 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 all aspects of drum maintenance, tuning for the style of the piece chosen, techniques used on all parts of the drums for the piece

Drums GMQ Sample (137KB, .pdf)


Your Grade 6 exam lasts 30 minutes for a Grade Exam or 23 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 6 exam now! Simply buy or download the Drums Grade 6 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 6