Omni-directional promotion of
Chinese education

View Event Calendar
Full List Calendar


Omni-directional promotion of
Chinese education

Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra
International Drum Graded Exam

Supporting and Certifying Organization:
Centre for Chinese Music Studies, Department of Music, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Department of Music, Hong Kong Baptist University

In the wake of the SARS outbreak in 2003, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra organized the Hong Kong Synergy 24 Drum Competition and the Hong Kong Drum Festival to encourage Hong Kong people to rally round. Although the Competition was forced to be suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the general public’s eagerness to continue playing drum music has not abated. In the view of this, the HKCO launched the International Drum Graded Exam in 2020. The assessment will be for grades 1 to 5 and cover a wide range of ways to interpret Chinese drum music. The idea is to encourage students to improve their drumming skills in a systematic process. The first exam was held earlier this year, candidates who aged between 5 and 65 passed. The graded results are as follows: Distinction – 47%; Merit – 45%; and Pass – 8%. The HKCO will be offering drum exam training coursed for the first time this season to help candidates improve their drumming skills before they sit for exams.


Drum Graded Exam Pieces (Grade 1-3):
Drum Graded Exam Pieces (Grade 4-5):

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 refer to the HKCO website and related documents for the latest information.
  • Date and time of examination: April 2022 (with exact date and time to be set out in a Notification for Examination sent to the candidate by post or by email).
  • Examination Venue:The details of the examination venue will be announced in the Notification for Examination.

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
Please refer to the HKCO website for the latest information.

Examination Fees
Please refer to the HKCO website for the latest information.

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 duty will 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.

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.

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 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