You don’t have to take exams on any instrument to be a good musician. You might just want to learn some of your favourite songs and there’s nothing wrong with that! First and foremost, learning to play an instrument should be fun. There are many great musicians who can’t even read or write music their own music. And music exams are not for everyone, many students can progress better without even ever thinking of taking an exam on their instrument. But for those of you who are interested in taking an exam, I have experience in teaching both the RSL Awards and Trinity College London for the drum kit.

Both of these award bodies provide the opportunity for students to achieve up to grade 8 on their instrument. Both award bodies’ grades are academically recognised and from grade 6 up to 8, pupils can use their instrument exam marks to help boost their UCAS points for university applications.

RSL says – “UCAS rates qualifications and awards them a tariff score based on various factors. The points accrued by completing multiple qualifications which are on the UCAS tariff can be combined together to meet University entry requirements.”

Trinity College says –  “Level 3 qualifications (Grades 6-8) in music performance and theory are included in the UK Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) tariff, and attract UCAS points for university and higher education entry.”

I’m very proud to say that all of my private pupils’ have achieved either a grade of merit or higher in their graded examinations.

You can find out more information about the different exams and syllabi available by going to their respective websites, which you can find links to below.


Trinity College London music exams are available worldwide in over 60 countries.

STYLE – This syllabus gives drummers a range of authentic styles to master, including jazz, funk, show tunes, film, TV, Latin, reggae and swing. Percussion exams cover the full range of orchestral instruments with refreshed repertoire for tuned percussion, snare drum and timpani.

PRO-SKILLS – Developed with professional drummers and percussionists, our online support resources show you what an exam is like, demonstrate drum kit exercises on split-screen, explore professional techniques and look at where our exams can take you.

TECHNIQUE – Our syllabus develops instrument-specific techniques, with bespoke rudiment exercises for drum kit and enhanced technical work for orchestral percussion.

BOOKS AND BACKING TRACKS – Three drum kit repertoire books from Initial to Grade 8 are available, with professional backing tracks and demos to download or stream. The syllabus also gives the option to choose additional repertoire from Introducing Drum Kit or Raise the Bar Drum Kit at all grades. Percussion repertoire features a wide range of newly added pieces, including options from Introducing Percussion.

We offer drum kit and percussion exams from Initial to Grade 8. The Initial exam acts as an introduction to the exam system for new performers.


Performance is at the heart of Trinity’s Rock & Pop Drums exams: whether self-taught or taking lessons, learning for fun or heading for a career in the music industry, these exams will help you develop valuable playing skills and achieve your musical ambitions.

Our Drums song lists feature a huge range of songs spanning all contemporary styles, including ‘No One Knows’ by Queens of the Stone Age, ‘Don’t Wanna Fight’ by Alabama Shakes, ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, ‘Under The Bridge’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers and ‘Sir Duke’ by Stevie Wonder.




Rockschool music qualifications are tailor-made for contemporary musician. Ranging from introductory grades all the way up to university-level degrees – we ensure your hard work is rewarded by a valuable qualification regardless of your age or musical ability.

Drumming demands more than just ‘staying in time’. The drummer is the driving force, the backbone and the foundation of the entire band dynamic. Drummers punctuate, embellish and lead changes in the rhythmic figures of each track. They accentuate a horn section, pick up on guitar riffs, mimic vocal lines and command the rhythm section. Drummers do all this and stay in time.

ABILITY TO SPECIALISE – For every drum grade, students can plot their stylistic specialism, helping develop an in-depth understanding of the type of playing they identify with, whether this is pop, rock, metal, blues, country, funk, jazz or reggae.

EXCITING REPERTOIRE – Hand-picked tunes from some of the world’s biggest artists across a diverse range of genres, the Rockschool drums repertoire provides students with an expansive song choice to use in their exams and practice sessions.

ONLINE SUPPORT – The Rockschool drums syllabus is supported by walkthroughs and tutorial videos specifically produced for our YouTube subscribers.

UCAS POINTS – For Grades 6, 7 and 8, you can supersize your university application, with up to 30 UCAS points awarded at Grade 8.

RECOGNISED SESSION MUSICIANS – Our backing tracks feature some of the top session musicians in the industry with recording credits alongside the likes of Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Rihanna and various other iconic artists.

FREE CHOICE PIECES – In addition to the 6 pieces on offer in each of our grade books, students are also able to choose two Free Choice Pieces that can serve as performance pieces for the exam. The criteria for each grade can be found on our website.

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