Aural Tests

Fergus Black prepares students for aural tests at Grades 6,7 and 8, and for auditions. Sometimes, other instrumental teachers are reluctant to take their students through practice aural tests for the higher grades - perhaps because of a lack of lesson time, or because the tests need advanced keyboard skills to administer them.

A lot of the time, there is a technique for tackling the questions, and you simply have to learn how to do it and practice.

Sometimes it is simple little things that make the difference: for example, if you can’t clap the beat for early grades, try tapping your foot. (Entrainment is a deeply embedded reaction to music, and is rarely wrong). At Grade 1, if you can’t decide whether the music is in two or three beats in the bar, it is likely in three - one of the characteristics of man being bi-pedal, is that we find two beats in the bar more obvious, in my experience.

For cadences and modulations at Grades 7 and 8, I am a great believer in being familiar with what they feel like, rather than trying to work them out mechanically, e.g. an interrupted cadence feels like it is going to be a perfect cadence, until suddenly, at the last moment, the rug is pulled from under your feet. Or take modulations to the dominant and sub-dominant in minor keys, which are quite unlike modulations from minor keys: in minor keys the dominant feels far away (and if you can make it a major chord in your head, it will sound dominant-y, but the modulation to the sub-dominant often feels like a shot of caffeine, because the most obvious way to the sub-dominant is through its dominanat a.k.a. the tonic major. It is probably better demonstrated than written down.


Resources

Please look at my resources about aural training:

Notespinner Blog

Here are some of the aural-test related articles on my Notespinner blog - thoughts on composing, teaching and performing music.

Resources

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