5 Tips For Music Aural Tests

When doing a music exam, there is (for piano, guitar, violin and various instruments) a part called the Aural test. This tests your ability to hear melodies, sing melodies, state information about a melody and determine the rhythm in a melody. Some people are just born with natural talent, while others just don’t “get” it (if you’re reading this article, it’s most likely you’re in this group!).

1. If faced with a question like, ” Sing from memory a four bar melody played twice by the examiner,”- what I personally do is while the examiner is playing the piece, just hum in quietly to yourself. When he plays it again, hum it again. Then when asks to sing it, just recall what you have hummed. This is much easier than straining your ears, trying to listen to it. If you get this right, you can score a lot of points for the Music Aural Test section.

2. When faced with a question like, ” Clap the rhythm from a short extract played twice by the examiner and state whether it is 2,3, or 4 time”- just clap softly while he is playing the extract, then recall what you have clapped. While doing so, just try out all the different rhythms- silently count “1 and 2 and” and if that doesn’t fit in, count “1 and 2 and 3 and” and if that still doesn’t work, try “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”.

Finding out if it “fits” in is easy. Just listen to the strong beat (a note played a little louder than the rest), and that should signal the start of a new bar. Use that to find out the time signature.

3. A Question like “Sing the upper part of a two part phrase”- just concentrate only on the upper part- ignore the other part. This tests your concentration and scores lots of points in the aural test if done correctly.

4. When getting to higher grades, you may get asked a question about cadences, and stating whether they are perfect, imperfect or interrupted. The way I decide whether it is perfect, imperfect or interrupted is this: When it is perfect, the song feels complete. You went on a journey and arrived back home. When it is imperfect, you went on a journey, but ended up a bit lost and ended up in your friend’s home. When it is interrupted (which is easy to tell) is when you are completely lost.

5. In other words, perfect is when you stay in the same key- e.g. You started the piece on C Major, and ended with C Major.

Imperfect is when you go to a different key, but keep it the same major/minor. e.g. You started at G Major, but ended in D Major.

Interrupted is when you go to a different key completely, with a different major/mine. e.g. You started at B Major, but ended up in C Minor.

Hopefully this has been educational to you, if you have been struggling with the Aural part of music tests. Enjoy your music journey, best wishes for your exams!

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