Some Thoughts on Developing Aural Awareness

Some very interesting ideas here!

Cade Bonar

Aural training – or ‘aural skills’ – formed a significant part of my own formal music education throughout secondary school. Aural skills exercises typically demanded that we identify short rhythmic, melodic and two-part melodic/harmonic phrases, and then realise them through staff notation. We would have limited hearings and no external points of reference (other than a starting note for melodies) with which to realise these musical ‘fragments’. I enjoyed the challenge of these exercises, and I was aware of the benefits they provided to my musical awareness – they fed my analytical mind.

The approach taken towards developing aural skills at secondary school was responsive to the demands of the then Music: Senior Syllabus[i] document. Aural skills examinations under this syllabus included rhythmic dictation, melodic dictation, and two-part melodic dictation components. My teacher essentially ‘taught to the test’[ii] – our preparation for these examinations largely consisted of us doing…

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