In the third podcast of the exam series, I’m joined by Sam Coates to discuss everything but the pieces. Sam Coates is the author of the ‘BlitzBooks‘ series which blitz through sight reading & theory, and I’m so excited to have her share her tips and tricks for teaching sight reading and aural skills.
Sight reading & aural tests make up a small portion of the marks in most exam systems, but they can cause a lot of stress for some students. Many students want to spend all their time working on their pieces, and don’t see the value in sight reading. However, any accompanist or church pianist will tell you that sight reading is one of the most valuable skills you can possibly develop as a pianist.
Aural tests can similarly cause anxiety if they’re not prepared for fully. The singing portion can be especially troublesome for a shy or embarrassed student. Sam has some great suggestions for dealing with these self confidence issues by starting from music that the student is already familiar with, and working out from there.
Whether or not you have students preparing for exams, I think you’ll really enjoy today’s discussion on these crucial musical skills.
Are your students struggling with their aural skills?
ABRSM is an exam board that supports the teaching and learning of music in partnership with the Royal Schools of Music. Its award-winning Aural Trainer app for iOS devices offers an exciting way for students to practise their aural skills.
Through a series of interactive challenges, pupils can learn to identify and describe musical features and differences quickly and accurately. They can gain feedback on their answers and keep track of improvements. Students can practise exercises in any order, as often or as little as they’d like, anytime and anywhere.
Aural Trainer covers all of the elements of ABRSM’s aural tests for their Grades 1 to 8 exams, including sight–singing and echo tests. There are two versions of the app: Aural Trainer 1 to 5, and Aural Trainer 6 to 8 which is new! Free copies of each app are available to download so you can try a few exercises before you upgrade.
ABRSM offers a whole suite of digital resources to develop general musical skills and knowledge and help with exam preparation.
There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, and I’m grateful that you’ve chosen mine.
Being a full-time teacher myself, I know how busy teachers are and how much time, effort and passion we put into our students. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do in our time off is listen to more piano teaching stuff! So, well done for using this time for self-improvement.
Whether you’re at the gym, on the bike or in the car, I know that you and your students will get lots out of what you learn in the long run. Just make sure you try out some of the ideas before they get lost in the business of your next lessons.
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Do you find that everything but the pieces gets left until just before the exam? How do you get your students to consistently practice these essential skills?
Tim Topham has one mission in life: to stem the tide of children quitting music lessons by helping teachers maximise student engagement through creativity, technology and innovation. Tim hosts the popular Creative Piano Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, Californian Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.