Listen up those who maintain "I
can't do aural" or whose students say as much! The Contemporary
Aural Course, Preparatory for Beginners, is a user-friendly,
no experience necessary aural training course that provides
a method of teaching and improving aural skills rather than
just a programme of questions and answers .
This 16 page Preparatory workbook
and double CD is the first in a nine set series devised by Australian
music educator Margaret Brandman. It's aim is to equip students
from 5 years upwards with the necessary aural understanding
to begin the course.
It is split into six manageable
lessons focussing alternately on pitch and rhythm. Each lesson
begins with a listening section followed by related visual and
audio instruction and examples. These combined with practical
and written exercises are neatly wrapped up with questions to
be answered in the workbook.
Instruction is given gradually
in a building block fashion. Basic pitch recognition (low, middle,
high and directional) beginning from lesson one leads to identifying
the first five intervals of a major scale in lesson five using
the simplified interval language "Step and Skip".
Rhythmic transcription is also made easy by learning and applying
the four stages of Brandman's "Rhythm Shorthand System".
The CD introduces the course, explains
it's aims, how to use it and what is covered saving hours of
reading! It also introduces and teaches each lesson and
makes the necessary links to the workbook. The teacher on the
CD keeps the listener focussed on what they are learning and
what they will ultimately be able to achieve; a great motivational
technique! Many musical examples, played on piano, electric
piano and flute, are given to compliment instruction.
Short tracks make it easy for the listener to repeat material
and this is encouraged throughout the course.
Brandman uses a variety of techniques
to help the student. In particular her use of visual,
audio and kinaesthetic teaching techniques makes this aural
course truly "Contemporary". For example, the student
will be asked to listen, sing, clap, write and make physical
movements to demonstrate understanding and develop musicianship.
Repetition, consistency and constant learner involvement
are also key to its success.
Whether used for classroom or private
tuition, this Preparatory set gives teachers all the necessary
tools to provide clear, enjoyable aural instruction from day
one. I would highly recommend this method.
The complete Contemporary Aural
series will be distributed by Encore Music from May 2004 and
will be readily available in the stores. It is suggested
that the aural series is accompanied by Brandman's Companion
Workbook which has recently re-published with the title Contemporary
Theory Primer ' and Book One of the Contemporary
Theory Workbook series for the necessary theoretical background.
- Jennifer Maggs (Freelance