Why Aural Tests Count!
Just because aural tests are the last bit of the exams doesn’t mean they should be the last thing you practice!
But sadly they are.
Even some teachers leave them until the last minute – putting more emphasis on getting marks up for the pieces as well as worrying about scales and finally sight-reading.
Just recently I was asked to accompany a grade five exam and in the rehearsal a week before the exam date the student asked me when she was supposed to start practising her aural tests?!?!? And after a bit of a twitter rant it seems that this isn’t unusual. Some teachers do indeed not rehearse the aural test section at all and leave it to the accompanist to do.
They’re a good chunk of marks so they can make the difference between a pass and a fail.
Also aural is important.
It shouldn’t just be something that gets dragged out near an exam date. It should filter through into every lesson. Yes I know it’s difficult when you have students who only have 20 minute lessons, even 30 minutes is a push to get everything done in time.
But people should be well rounded musicians.
The aural tests are annoying I know, but their focus is on elements that students should be encouraged to do and should just be part of lessons regularly (then they become less of an exam only worry).
The clapping – this is great to see whether their musical memory is working and if they can externalise what they hear in their head. Clapping the pulse is also perfect for working on their sense of ‘in time’. If the rhythms flow then everything else will make sense and then they have a bit more brain power free to think about other things (hint hint… dynamics!)
The singing – has so many benefits including memory, pitch and getting students to understand the relationship between the distances between the notes
The listening – students should be regularly encouraged to listen and appraise what they’re playing, so if they’re listening to a teacher or another student play it starts to get their ear used to listening while they’re thinking.
Like everything I’ve written about recently that’s focused on the exams – it all boils down to regular practice.
Aural skills should be part of a regular lesson and it should be things that students are working on their own too.
So – if you’ve got an exam coming up – don’t just leave it to the last five minutes of your lesson to work on them. Ask your teacher what will be in the exam and get friends, family and loved ones to sing at you, or clap things for you to copy. Or be self-reliant. There’s loads of examples on youtube for all of the aural tests for every exam board. So go and look.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
You can find some clips I’ve done for the aural tests here
And if you want some more hints and tips about loving the singing element – check out the blog post here