Many of my students get stuck in preparing ABRSM aural tests of part-singing in grade 6-8. In the tests students are asked to sing back a single line from memory of a two-part or three-part musical phrase. They usually shorten the long notes, mix up all the ups and downs of lines and innovate a new line unconciously.
Successful part-singing (test) depends on:
1. input: sensitive ear that can discriminate the target line from polyphonic music
2. processing: good musical memory
3. output: good singing response, intonation
So find out which part students get stuck if they do not do part-singing well. For good musical memory, good singing response and intonation, well, it is not new in grade 6-8. But there is some case for those transfer students who do not received proper training previously. So don’t hesitate in switching back to aural exercises in lower grades if students get stuck in these aspects.
For discriminating target line from polyphonic music, yes, it is new here. Students feel chaotic easily so I use the “melodic change” exercise first. This exercise is borrowed from grade 1-3 “rhythmic/melodic change” aural tests. I show them the score of two-part phrases. I play the phrases at the piano. Then I change a note in either upper or lower voice (I specify which voice they should pay attention to the change). Only after mastery of this exercise we start the part-singing exercise.
There are plenty of aural training for ABRSM exam. I prefer those two published by ABRSM , Aural training in practice and Specimen Aural Tests. I especially like the excerpts with singable range for both teenager boys and girls. Teenager boys are experiencing changing voice and it is hard to find suitable singing materials for them.
Not just for exam but it is still worthy to have part-singing training as it can further help us to develop musical ear for part-playing. Part-playing involves side tracking and shaping different lines simultaneously in playing polyphonic music. Part-playing skill can also be used in those with hidden melody in accompaniment. So please don’t just have part-singing training solely for exam!
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