So, had my first drum exam yesterday. Oh dear. Grade 1 and things didn't go according to plan. The day started with a two hour lesson which kicked off at 6am. Now, I don't know about you but I doubt if there's many occasions where drumming is deemed acceptable at such an early hour. I was the first exam of the day so we had to travel to Lincoln for an 8:45 start. Got there early so just managed to sneak in a cheeky bacon bap from a tea bar around the corner from the studio where the exam was due to take place. Surprisingly for an exam phobic like me I felt strangely serene - that should have been the portent.
Went to the studio where I was allowed fifteen minutes warm up time. My drum tutor came with me - we knew he wouldn't be allowed in the actual exam but he wanted to come anyway as I'm the first person he's sent for grading - and told me that I'd best practise my rudiments. Now rudiments are the easy stuff you're supposed to know in your sleep. Not going to get technical but they involve rolls, triplets and paradiddles. So, armed with my 'lucky' drumsticks (a pair of Zildjian Zak Starkey's complete with mod roundels which have virtually worn off, as you can see in the pic which was taken in my very own pad, you lucky bastards. A gift from my drum tutor, even though I have plenty of sticks of my own. It was he who called them my' lucky sticks'. His girlfriend bought them for a pound from a car boot sale) I was called into the examination room. The examiner, a personable Geordie in his forties, put me at ease and asked me which three set pieces of music I'd be playing (there's a guy playing one of them here. It isn't me, but if you're unlucky enough to be a friend of mine on Faceberk then there's a video of me playing all three pieces on there). Now, the set music is supposed to be one of the harder parts of the exam. I sailed through all three barely putting a foot wrong, perhaps two small mistakes.
Then came the rudiments section. Oh dear. I had the choice to play along with a metronome or not. Should have said 'not' but was mindful that more points would be added to my score if I could play along in time with a metronome...which I normally can. All three rudiments he asked me to play were a complete and utter shambles. In fact I'd even go as far as to say it was fucking awful. Shit!
Next part of the exam was recalling a groove, recalling rolls and sight reading and interpretation, and questions on music notation and general music questions, all of which I sailed through. Again, I got the more difficult stuff right. Oh well, fifteen minutes and the exam was over - the examiner said "You've done very well. You'll get your results in two to three weeks." Yeah, right on the 'you've done very well bit', I bet he says that to all the others going for Drum Grade 1, which is usually eleven year-old boys, not midlife crisis boy here.
Went back to get tutor, who could hear every thing despite it supposedly being soundproofed, where he called me a wanker for the rudiments section. Yes, what a wanker. Still, at least we could laugh about it - on the way back we were going over what the examiner might have been saying to the guy who owned the studio: "Did you hear old baldie's rudiments? What a prick, they get a bit of cash in their pockets buy a kit and think they're Dave Grohl. A-ha-ha. A-ha-ha." Yes, A-ha-ha indeed. At least I can drum along to AC/DC's Back in Black, hardly Rush's YYZ but hey.
Roll on Grade 2.