Margaret Brandman's 'Contemporary Aural Course'

Ear training is a vital part of any studies in music. An awareness of pitch and rhythm and an ability to transcribe music from a sound source to the written page is essential for any well-rounded musician.

A number of years ago I perceived a lack of a graded set of ear-training materials suited to beginners through to the advanced level, which would be suitable for self study purposed or in class. This prompted me to devise my Contemporary Aural Course. This course now consists of nine sets (book and CD) that progress from beginner to advanced levels.

In this course, students are required to listen to music on CD and fill in their answers in the accompanying workbook. All instructions are in audio form so the student can work at their own pace through the tracks and independently from their music teacher if they so wish. All sets have accompanying workbook and include answer pages. The sets can be purchased in their entirety, or as separate audio and book items. This makes the series available for classes as well as individuals.

For the background theory for all the topics, please refer to my Contemporary Theory Workbook and Contemporary Theory Workbook series.

The Contemporary Aural Course is recommended reference material for the AMEB's Contemporary Popular Syllabus

Read Margaret's article 'A Trained Ear - The Central Skill for any Musician'


The Preparatory Course is designed to equip the student from the earliest stages of learning with aural discrimination and the aural skills necessary to hear the music, both with and without the written score. Suitable for ages five and up, the materials covered are basic Pitch recognition (high, low, mid range and direction) leading to listening to the first five intervals, plus rhythm training and an introduction to the unique music shorthand transcription system which is a feature of the entire course. The music is played at a slow or moderate speed and there is ample time allowed for students to rehearse the skills and complete their answers in the workbook.

'Teaching aural work from a student's first lesson is, in my view and that of most music educators, an essential task and one that is now made all the more easy with the advent of this particular publication. The course provides an easy-to-follow and pleasant method of teaching and improving aural skills. In my view it is highly recommended.'

-Rita Crews, MUSIC TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION OF NSW Quarterly Magazine, Dec. 1993

Contemporary Aural Course Prep Pack BK/CD


Set One begins at a basic level and progresses very gradually covering required grade material plus interesting and enjoyable extension work. In this set, students both listen to and transcribe the first five intervals. The pace is faster than the Preparatory Set, and therefore suited to those who have completed the Preparatory Set, or have previously gained a small amount of aural skills.

'Within each set the material is divided between various musical elements, for example, in Set One the elements are pitch, rhythm and melody while from Set Two onwards these categories are expanded to include cadences and chord progressions.

One of the most useful attributes of this series is the use of review material for revision and reinforcement of work done, which occurs not only at the end of each set, but as the starting points of Sets Two-Six. Thus there is a satisfying continuity and development which is perceivable by the student as well as the teacher and which helps to increase student self-confidence and feelings of achievement.

Another important attribute is the clarity of presentation. The voice is natural sounding and well-articulated. Students are able to work through the exercises without teacher supervision and at their own pace, and will find the clear enunciation and pleasing tone of voice both encouraging and reassuring.'

-Dr. Helen Stowasser, Associate Professor of Music Education, University of Western Australia, November 1991

The advanced sets in the series Set 7 (Hear Your Chords!) and Set 8 (Hear More Chords!) deal with the sounds and functions of the chords along with the modes or scales that can be sounded together with them. Each of the sets includes several pieces of music harmonised with modern chords, and requires the student to identify the chord types. Set 8, also covers the sounds of the standard Chromatic chords in classical music the Neapolitan Sixth and the German, Italian and French Sixths.

For a contents list for each of the sets refer to the Jump List on this website.