What exactly is being sought in the testing process? The technical answer is– aural and manual potential. The more colloquial one is – good ears and hands. In today’s post, I should like to concentrate on the ears.
The reason that aural awareness is so important could be summed up as follows:
- Music does not have to be very fast to exceed the speed of human thought
- By thought I mean that the conscious acknowledgement of every part of the process of playing – identifying the note; naming the note; locating it on the instrument; ensuring that it lasts for the specified duration – with the correct articulation and at the desired volume (write the theme toon; sing the theme toon)
- In the early stages of an unfamiliar instrument, or unfamiliar music, such conscious thinking is unavoidable
- This is why practice is essential – to convert a slow, deliberate and possibly hesitant response into a reflex action – otherwise playing quick music would not be possible
- Practice takes place in the absence of the teacher and constitutes the majority of time that a pupil will spend with the instrument
- Without an experienced parent, sibling etc. the person who has to monitor whether or not the correct notes are being internalised is the pupil – using their ears
The listening test is a great deal more fun that this description makes it sound and it is one of my favourite parts of the job. It is one of the few times we deal with an entire class in their own classroom and P5 is such an enthusiastic, responsive, imaginative and humorous age.
Tomorrow, I’ll describe the content of the listening test