Trinity Drum Kit 2020-2023
The new Trinity Drum Kit 2020-2023 syllabus is finally out, so I thought I’d spend a few moments to share with you what I’ve discovered so far. Here (the video below) are my views which are often waffly and badly articulated! I’ve included an edited/tweezed transcription below for those that like to read things. (NB. at the time of this review I did not have the Grade 6-8 book).
Trinity’s new 2020 – 2023 syllabus for drum kit replaces the old one, which ran from 2014-2019. Understandably, I’m quite glad it’s finally come out as I’ve been teaching the previous syllabus for five years.
What's new in the Trinity Drum Kit Syllabus?
The first thing you notice is that there are now three grades in each book. This means you can get up to grade 8 with just three books. Now, you might be thinking, well hang on a minute. If there are three grades in each book, that must mean there are now 9 grades? Well, no, but what we do get is an ‘Initial’ level. Whilst this isn’t a grade, there is an exam you can take. (Upon viewing my YouTube review, Dave Odart, one of the contributors to the syllabus, commented: “The initial grade is an actual assessment like the other grades- we felt we needed a stepping stone to G1 which has become progressively harder over the years to keep up with today’s players.”) There are some quite good little tracks in the Initial level.
So, that’s the first thing that’s changed. The other noticeable thing is that there’s no CD inside the back cover. All the tracks are downloadable from www.soundwise.co.uk. You get a little code in the back of the book. Then you go to Soundwise, type in the code and download all your tracks.
That are the tracks like?
So, what about the tracks themselves then? Well, if you flick through both of these books (I only have the first two at the moment) you’ll see straight away that there’s a real emphasis of swing, funk and latin. Show tunes as well – there are quite a few of those cheesy little numbers to choose from – along with some soul and some shuffles… all the sort of stuff you’d expect to find in a Trinity Drum Kit syllabus.
The tracks themselves are really well recorded. There are a lot of horn / brass sounding tracks. That’s to be expected now. This syllabus is classed as Jazz and Classical. But whereas the old syllabus still contained some rock tracks, you won’t find any here. This is because Trinity have separated things out in the wake of their Rock and Pop syllabus. So, if you want to the do rockier tracks or pop, you choose that syllabus; if you want to do the other sort of material – the jazz, latin, funk – then this is the one to go for. And that’s probably why there’s more of a brassy sound throughout. Every track seems to have a very good brass arrangement.
Is this syllabus easier than the last one?
In Grade 3, there’s a track called Joy Spring. Now, Joy Spring was in my class at school. (That’s not true). Joy Spring is actually a swing number with a typical skeletal chart. And at Grade 3, I think that’s quite a change from what we’ve had previously.
‘Whenever I see one of these tracks the first thing I think is: students are not going to know what to do with this! What I usually do is write out the whole thing fully, for better or worse, and explain it to them that way. Because it’s actually really hard for beginners to visualise the swing ride cymbal pattern in relation to snare drum phrasing. I just think it really helps if you do that for your students. Over time they’ll start to understand how the ride cymbal and snare drum relate to each other. There aren’t many bass drums in Joy Spring either. It’s one of those really light swing numbers, with just a few heavy strokes nearer the end. (But I guess there’s no harm in slipping in some bass drum ‘bombs’.)
So, if Grade 3 is anything to go by, this syllabus maybe a little bit harder than the previous one. Although, having said that there are a lot familiar-looking patterns too. But it does look a little bit more demanding than the previous Grade 3. If you’ve got a student who’s on their way to Grade 3 now, you might want to prepare/warn them!
Trinity Drum Kit 2020-2023 Syllabus: Final Thoughts
It’s a bit early to judge yet, but my initial thoughts are that this is pretty good syllabus. Well, I’m going to be teaching it, so I must think it’s quite good! It’s certainly challenging and for those students who are less bothered about playing covers, straight back beats and rock stuff – those who want to branch out and look at some different kinds of material – then this is the syllabus to get. It’s the one I always encourage my students because I think if you can do this stuff, you’ve got a better chance of doing anything.
Kids are always going to listen to what they want to listen to. And they’ll always play the drums how they want to play the drums. But if you give them good material that helps them broaden their horizons, they’ll end up being better all-round musicians.
If you found this ‘sort of review’ sort of helpful, let me know. Are you a tutor? Which syllabus do you teach and why?