THE METHODIST SCHOOL OF MUSIC (MSM) is the first music school in Singapore to embark on E-Learning or electronically-supported learning for its General Music Education programme, and the only music school to do so at the time of writing. It uses the aural training programme Hofnote, a product developed by Music Teacher Support Limited, a UK company.
The Aural Test is one of the components of assessment in music examinations with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) or Trinity Guildhall. The purpose of the Aural Test is to monitor and develop the candidate’s ability to perceive and understand the music which he or she plays.
Competence in every component is crucial in scoring as high as possible in the examination, with the difference in score deciding whether a candidate achieves a “Pass” or a “Merit”, or between a “Merit” and a “Distinction”. Most students practise diligently on the music scales and standard examination pieces, but lack training in the area of aural exercises.
The MSM strives to make music lessons fun and interactive by using technology in support of students’ learning. The main medium of skills transfer to the students is still through their music teacher, but with this E-Learning initiative, students can continue to practise their aural exercises anywhere – at home, on supported smartphones and tablets, or on computers located in the MSM Library. Their teachers are then able to monitor the students’ aural skill progress using the programme, and consequently can conduct aural lessons more effectively and productively.
The students’ response to the initial launch of the E-Learning programme has been very encouraging.
A student undergoing the E-Learning training, 11-year-old Amanda Chia, enthuses: “I like the online aural training because it is very interesting and helpful, especially if you do not have any help at home. When you give the wrong answer, the system would tell you the correct answer straight away so that you can realise your mistake. You are also able to listen to the exercises repeatedly. This is definitely more fun and interesting than playing the aural CD.”
She adds: “I think that you will still need a teacher to give explanations. For example, if you need any clarification, you cannot ask the computer!”
Vena Goh is the Principal of the Methodist School of Music. She worships at Barker Road Methodist Church.