Making the Grade: Theory and Aural Skills
Congratulations on your admission to Music School. This is already a great achievement. Now we want you to set your sights on being the best student at the School that you can be. The single biggest indicator of success in the School of Music undergraduate programs is the student’s ability to follow the course sequence as established. Students who are required to do remedial work in music theory during their first year often fall behind in other aspects of their program. For this reason we urge you to dedicate a significant amount of time this summer to improving your understanding of basic music theory and your fundamental skills. We will require all students who did not achieve satisfactory results on the diagnostic and piano proficiency exams to retake them in September. Four months is ample time to remedy most deficiencies. Time invested in mastering these skills now will be repaid many times over in your undergraduate career.
There are also a number of good self-instruction texts available on the rudiments of music theory. Among those which are readily available are:
- John Clough, Joyce Conley, and Claire Boge. Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm and Meter, a programmed text. 3rd Ed. (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1999).
- Paul O. Harder and Greg A. Steinke. Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music; A Programed Course. Part I. 8th Edition. (Toronto: Allyn and Bacon, 1994).
- Robert Ottman and Frank Mainous.Programmed Rudiments of Music. (Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995).
All these resources are available through such on-line sources as www.amazon.ca
The web is an excellent resource for instruction and drill work in both rudiments and aural skills. A recent survey of web-based resources identified the following, free sites which can be very helpful.
http://www.good-ear.com/ – This is one of the best sites on the web for ear drills. A comprehensive series of exercises on interval recognition covers the whole gamut of learning levels. Plus great drills on chords, scales and harmonic progressions. Absolutely free!
http://www.ossmann.com/bigears/ – Although this site drills intervals only, it’s easy to use and the difficulty level can be programmed by you!
http://www.musictheory.net/ – This is a tutor and exercise site all rolled in one! What’s more it has drills for both rudiments and aural skills. Includes notation, scales, intervals, chords, note names, key signatures in the rudiments section; Aural section includes intervals, scales & chord Identification. A "bonus" section: Chord calculator, staff paper template & matrix generator.
http://courses.missouristate.edu/mfm077f/webet/ – This is a on-line tutor for the first year aural skills course a Southwest Missouri State. A little low-tech, but very systematic. 4 levels, with several exercises per level. Includes melodic and rhythmic dictation, melodic error detection, and 4 part dictation.
www.teoria.com/reference/index.htm – Comprehensive coverage of music rudiments in tutorials and drills. Covers all aspects and includes sound-on options for development of aural skills. Also includes extensive webliography on rudiments.
http://earplane.com/modules/earplane_main – Video-game style tutor which covers intervals, triads, 4 note chords, rhythms, melodies, modes
www.msu.edu/user/spangle9/etsoftware.html – This comprehensive listing of available computer assisted aural skills programs includes both programs for purchase and free, web-based programs
http://www.arts.ilstu.edu/~staylor/music203/index.html#assignments – free online exercises for intervals and chords (without sounds)
http://www.musictheory.halifax.ns.ca/lessons.html – (Canadian Content)Gary Ewer's Easy Music Theory- just scroll down to the bottom of the page for the free lessons...
http://web1.hamilton.edu/javamusic/ – free online exercises (with sounds) for staff notes, intervals, chords, scales, key signatures, piano keyboard, etc.: a little slow to load
http://www.worldvillage.com/~jchuang/Ear/world/ – free online exercises (with sounds) for identifying intervals, chords and scales
http://plato.acadiau.ca/courses/musi/callon/2133-43/2133.htm#Theory – includes links to a variety of pages containing written and ear training lessons and exercises
http://www.tonalityguide.com – contains lessons and exercises though they are on more advanced topics (past fundamentals)
A couple of sites give helpful hints about how to approach acquiring aural skills, although no actual exercises are included. These will help you with strategies:
www.wmich.edu/mus-theo/etg/et_guide.html – Google this as “David Loberg Code’s Aural Comprehension Site”.
www.student.furman.edu/users/r/rkelley/eartrain.htm – Google this as “Guide to Ear Training: How to Listen”
Rudimentary keyboard instruction is widely available across Canada. The entry standards for piano proficiency are available on our web site (www.mun.ca/music/pros/aud.htm). You need to have met them by September in order to stay completely in sequence with your theory and skills courses.