Aural Skills, Musical Rudiments, and Sightreading--The overlooked elements of Musicianship
The elements of musicianship, namely aural skills, musical rudiments (“theory”), and sightreading are often neglected in musical study because students are busy grinding away on their instruments. However, musicianship skills facilitate the learning of new music and instrumental mastering. Aural skills help the students hear internally what they are reading, rudiments help them see the musical patterns within the composition, and sightreading skills make learning a piece of music much quicker. Therefore, when students spend equal time on musicianship studies, they perform with greater insight, security, and finesse in a shorter amount of time.
When musicians perform prepared memorized pieces, they play by ear, even if they learned the piece by reading. The primary elements of aural training are recognizing: intervals, chords, scales, rhythmic and melodic dictation, and playing back short melodies by ear. These aural skills allow the musician to, among other things, connect what they hear with what they are playing, and thus greatly increase the accuracy of their performance.
Musicians who understand the structural elements of their pieces and the relationship of these elements to the sound they are making have a firm grasp of musical rudiments because understanding how tonality, rhythm, form, dynamics, and articulations interact in a score will inform the student’s ability to play idiomatically. Furthermore, a student who understands rudiments can make musical sense of the score in a shorter time.
Students are always keen on learning a piece quickly and skilled sight readers can do this, whereas unskilled sight readers grind away endlessly to learn their music. Skilled sight readers use their aural skills and strong rudimental knowledge to make sense of the music “on the fly,” allowing them to learn quickly and/or play with others in group settings.
Students love to play; they mostly hate to study. They signed up for the fun of making sounds they recognize, so they often must be convinced that the shortest route from A to B is not in grinding, but in mastering these “boring” elements of musicianship: aural skills, musical rudiments, and sightreading.
If I can help you on your musical journey, call me.
This blog was written by a human.
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You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
I'm a professional pianist and music educator in West Toronto Ontario. I'm also a devoted percussionist and drum teacher.