About Music Education: Building Bridges: Research and Practice in Aural Skills Training

Thursday 10 August 2017

Room 2174

Level 2, Sydney Conservatorium of Music Sydney NSW

Nearly twenty years ago, David Butler and Mark Lochstampfor lamented that “there is very little correspondence between research activities in music cognition and pedagogical activities in aural training.” Indeed, they could have more broadly complained that much of what appears in aural skills textbooks and is practiced in aural-skills classrooms is remarkably insulated from research of any kind. But what can research into music cognition, learning, and music theory tell us about how we might approach aural training? In this talk, I will explore what research in science and music can do to inform our work as we teach the various activities often lumped under the rubric “aural skills.” For example, short-term musical memory plays important roles in the skills necessary to take melodic dictation. Memory for individual pitches, melodic memory, and extractive memory all contribute to various levels of achievement and diverse kinds of difficulties in our students’ listening work. But unless we are keenly aware of the different ways that these memory behaviors can affect student achievement, and unless we have reliable methods of diagnosing individual students’ strengths and weaknesses in each of these behaviors, we have little hope of implementing appropriate and efficacious remedial activities in order to improve their listening skills. Likewise, our choices of solmization systems seem to be rooted in geography, culture, and personal experience, but rarely do we ask what the cognitive bases for inflicting syllables on our students might be. Different solmization systems can serve very different purposes depending on the mental constructs we wish to model with such systems, and we should be cognizant of these purposes before deciding to inculcate our students with any particular system. Similarly, we pass on colloquial advice about “looking ahead” while sight reading, without once consulting the scientific literature on the eye movements that music readers exhibit. Some of what this literature tells us confirms our informal assumptions, but it also provides us with some surprising insights that can help our students develop better sight reading skills. Other such topics include pulse inference, tonic inference, and absolute pitch acquisition. I will examine the various ways research on these and other skills can inspire our teaching.

Please register here for this event.

Join us for refreshments and to continue the conversation afterwards.

More information – music.sydney.edu.au/research/about-music-education-lectures

Gary S. Karpinski is Professor of Music and Coordinator of the Music Theory program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has also served on the faculties of the University of Oregon, Brooklyn College, and Temple University. Karpinski is a past president of the New England Conference of Music Theorists, and has served as President of the Association for Technology in Music Instruction, as Board Member for Music Theory in the College Music Society, and on the board for the Music Theory Society of New York State. He was Chair of the Society for Music Theory Pedagogy Interest Group, and also served as Chair of the SMT Mentoring Program. His research interests include music theory pedagogy, aural skills acquisition, music cognition and perception, early twentieth-century music, and Schenkerian analysis. Professor Karpinski is the author of two textbooks that have just been released in second editions by W. W. Norton: the Manual for Ear Training and Sight Singing and the Anthology for Sight Singing, which also include an Anthology Search website, an extensive Instructor’s Dictation Manual, and nearly 700 recordings. His seminal monograph Aural Skills Acquisition was published by Oxford University Press, and he was also the editor of the Festschrift for George Perle. Karpinski has published articles on aural skills, music theory pedagogy, early twentieth-century music, and music cognition in Music Theory Spectrum, Music Theory Online, The International Journal of Musicology, and The Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy.

ticket pricing
  • Free entry, registrations are required