Proceedings of The 2nd International Conference on Research in Teaching and Education
Aural Skills Pedagogy: Harmonic Dictation for Students with Absolute Pitch
In teaching sophomore level aural skills, I have dealt with students with absolute pitch do poorly in my courses, particularly in harmonic dictation. They can identify triads; however, identifying quality of seventh chords or chromatic chords poses serious challenges. Most often, they need to spell all the pitches before identifying the chord qualities and Roman Numerals.Growing up in a country where acquiring absolute pitch is considered essential, I started my early music training with fixed do system at age three and learned all my music with solfege. When I was assigned as a TA in aural skills courses at graduate school in US, I had to learn relative pitch quickly. My survival method was listening to music with absolute pitch first, then quickly “translate” to relative pitch.
In teaching my courses, I have been using chord progressions (5-8 chords total), in which students are asked to sing chord arpeggiation with movable do solfege. I use same progressions for harmonic dictation; I hoped that students learn to incorporate singing and listening skills by overlapping same materials.
This method has proven to be successful for most students; in particular, it has helped students with absolute pitch to hear chord quality and function. Although original progressions are written in C as a tonic, they can identify chords in harmonic dictation in other keys as well.In short, I believe singing chord progression with movable do arpeggiation helps students with absolute pitch to improve hearing function and quality of chords in harmonic dictation.
Keywords: Aural Skills Pedagogy in Music.