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Drum Graded Exam

After the SARS outbreak in 2003, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra (HKCO) launched the first ever Hong Kong Drum Festival and Hong Kong Synergy 24 Drum Competition to motivate the people of Hong Kong to rally round with drive and spirit. This year, the Orchestra is organizing the Drum Graded Exam to further promote Chinese drum music culture. The examination covers various musical interpretations of Chinese drumming to encourage students to systematically improve their techniques of drumming. Please refer to the HKCO website for the syllabus and details of the examination.

Application Form

Designated Score Order Form

Drum Graded Exam - Prospectus

Specialism Subject of the Examination
Chinese drums (datanggu, xiaotanggu, biangu, paigu)

Grading in the Examination
The grades of performance assessments are from Grade 1 to 5 (Grade 6 to 8 will be added in the future).

Aim of the Examination
To encourage candidates to understand the art of Chinese drum music from different perspectives, to help them systematically acquire the knowledge and performing techniques of Chinese drumming, and to train them in drum performance as well as in the appreciation of drum music.

Contents of the Examination
Contents of the examination are as follows. Candidates should refer to and use the designated scores compiled and published by the HKCO for the Drum Graded Exam only.

Part 1
List 1: One piece from Synergy 24 (2003 Original Primary Version)
List 2: One piece to be chosen by candidate himself / herself (choice of one out of the five pieces in the syllabus for the respective grade)
List 3: One piece from extracts of orchestral works

Part 2
Aural Test: Question and answer session on music theory and background knowledge of the repertoire

Part 3
Sight-reading: Sight-reading piece pertinent to the grade

Examination Requirements
  • List 1 Synergy 24 must be performed from memory.
  • Candidates aged 6 or under and aged 60 or above (as of the date of entry) can be exempt from performing from memory.
  • With the exception of the assessment of Synergy 24 as stated above, candidates can choose to perform from memory or from score for the other segments.
  • All Chinese drums (datanggu, xiaotanggu, biangu, and paigu) for the examination will be provided at the venue. Candidates do not need to bring their own instruments.
  • The examination repertoire must be performed according to the score. No accompanists, CD accompaniments or sound effects will be allowed.
  • For the sight-reading segment, candidates have one minute to study the score silently before the examiner begins the examination.
Date, Time and Venue of Examination
Please check the HKCO web page for updates and documents, issued by the HKCO.
  • Date and time of examination: April 2021 (with exact date and time to be set out in a Notification for Examination sent to the candidate by post or by email).
  • The date and time of examination will be arranged and allocated by the HKCO. Candidates must attend the examination according to the date, time and venue specified in the Notification for Examination. Any request for change of date and time must be submitted in advance to the HKCO. If the request is accepted, the candidate must pay a supplementary administration fee of HK$200.

There is no age limit for candidates. Candidates under the age of 18 must apply through their parents / guardians, teachers or schools / music centres. Candidates aged 18 or above can apply on their own or through their parents / guardians, teachers or schools / music centres.

How to Apply
Means of Entry: Sending in the entry by mail or in person
Entry Details: Address of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra: 7/F, Sheung Wan Municipal Services Building345 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong (please specify “Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra Drum Graded Exam” on the envelope if by mail) Drum Graded Exam” on the envelope if by mail)
Documents to be Submitted: 
1. Completed entry form
2. A copy of the candidate’s photo identification (Candidates applying in person only need to present the original document)
3. Cheque / bank-in receipt
Payment Method: By cheque or bank transfer
Entry Period: 9 November 2020 to 28 February 2021

Payment Details
  • Crossed cheques should be made payable to “Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra Ltd”
  • HKCO’s HSBC account: 004-199-210436-001 / SWIFT Code: HSBCHKHHHKH Overseas candidates will need to bear all remittance charges.
  • Candidates who fail to show up on their scheduled examination will be considered as absent. No make-up examination will be arranged. Any examination fees and other charges paid will not be refunded.

Examination Fees
Examination fees include costs of registration, assessment, venue, instruments, and one set of score for the grade of examination.
Grade I HK$680
Grade II HK$780
Grade III HK$880
Grade IV  HK$1080
Grade V  HK$1280
  • The examination will be conducted in Cantonese or Putonghua. Candidates must specify at the entry form if they choose to answer in English or other languages.

Examination Regulations
  • Candidates should arrive at the examination venue 15 minutes before the examination and report to the staff on duty in the waiting room. Candidates who are late will be considered as absent. All paid fees will not be refunded and no make-up examination will be arranged.
  • Candidates should bring their Notification for Examination and a photo identification (the information should be the same as the one provided in the entry form) to the examination. If a candidate’s identification does not have a photo, he / she should bring another form of photo identification such as student ID card / handbook / passport. Candidates who have lost their Notification for Examination must apply for a replacement at least 3 working days before the examination (late entries will not be accepted).
  • Candidates and those accompanying them should take care of their personal belongings. The HKCO and the staff on dutywill not be responsible for the loss or damage of any property, or for any bodily injury suffered by candidates and those accompanying them. Parents, teachers and guardians are responsible for the personal safety of candidates under the age of 18.
  • Candidates who fail to show up on their scheduled examination will be considered as absent. No make-up examination will be arranged. Any examination fees and other charges paid will not be refunded. Half of the paid examination fee will be refunded if a candidate is unable to sit for an examination due to illness. Candidates should apply by mail or email to the HKCO Drum Exam Unit on the day of the examination or within one week from the examination date, together with the Notification for Examination and an original medical certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner (note: the medical certificate will not be accepted if it is issued after the day of examination). Late entries or entries that do not meet the above requirements will not be accepted and any additional charges paid will not be refunded.

Examination Venue
The details of the examination venue will be announced in the Notification for Examination.

Notification for Examination
The HKCO Drum Exam Unit will send the Notification for Examination by mail or email approximately one month before examination date, based on the information provided on the entry form. Candidates should notify the HKCO Drum Exam Unit by email ( immediately if any information is inaccurate and requires amendment.

Examination Venue Regulations

No unauthorized person shall be permitted to enter the examination venue other than the candidates and examiners. Candidates must switch off their mobile phones and other sound-emitting devices when entering the examination venue.

Audio or Video Recording

Audio or video recordings of the examination will be made by the HKCO Drum Exam Unit for archive and internal use only.

Examination Results

The HKCO Drum Exam Unit will send the results by mail within six weeks after the date of examination. Applicants who have not received their candidates’ results within 3 months may contact Miss Guan at 3185 1612.


Certificates for candidates who passed the examination will be sent to the applicants by registered mail / local courier post within eight weeks after the examination. Non-local postage will be borne by the candidate. (If the applicant is a school / music centre, the name of the recipient will be the school / music centre written on the entry form). Applicants who have not received their candidates’ certificates within 3 months after the examination may contact the HKCO Drum Exam Unit by phone.

Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra Drum Graded Exam Preparatory Committee

Chairman          Yan Huichang               Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for Life of the HKCO, 

                                                          Director of the HKCO Orchestral Academy

Vice-Chairman   Yim Hok Man                Associate Director of the HKCO Orchestral Academy

                        Chin Man Wah, Celina   Executive Director of the HKCO

Secretary          Chin Kwok Wai             Assistant Percussion Principal and Education Executive of the HKCO

                        Liao Yi-ping                 Percussion virtuoso of the HKCO

Member            Chew Hee Chiat            Resident Conductor of the HKCO

                        Luk Kin Bun                 Percussion Principal of the HKCO

                        Sun Li-chuan, Patricia   Head of Programme, Education and Touring of the HKCO

                        Ho Chun Tung, Tony      Senior Manager (Score Library) of the HKCO