Contemporary Aural Course, Preparatory Pack BK/CD

Publisher: Wise Publications now assigned to Jazzem Music
Author: Margaret Brandman

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 Clarinettist)