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I have an audition coming up for Tech Music school in London in a couple of months. One of the necessary parts of the audition process is a sight singing test. I'm really worried about this. I've had to do this before and barely scraped a low passing grade.

Does anyone have any advice? Maybe a way to develop sharper pitch recognition skills? It's an area I struggle with but must overcome. I guess I only need it to be at a good enough level that they see I have potential to learn and take it further.

Also I've not seen any other comments on the site about this, so wondered what everyone thought about it all. I'm not sure whether it comes up a lot once you're a professional, but they must want us to be able to do it for some reason.

So, yeah, anyone know of an effective way to practice/learn this? Already tried associating pitches with the imagery of the note on the stave, which didn't work. Also perfect pitch courses, like the David Lucas Burge thing have proven useless.

Even if it is an essentially pointless skill, I need it developed so I can get my foot in the door. I will not be allowed to see the piece before the audition so won't have time to play it on piano first (I already thought about that :P).

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My first wife could sight sing and sight play pieces. But she had been playing and listening to music since she was a little girl and started studying at 14 with Alfred Moulideaux, tenured professor and Meadow School of Arts at SMU in Dallas and pianist for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

But essentially, you simply have to get familiar with how a note feels in your body compared to it's location on the staff of sheet music.

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work on intervalls. Take the C major scale (to start with) and break it into intervalls:

C to D is a second

C to E is a major third

C to F is a fourth

C to G is a fifth

C to A is Sixth

C to B is a major 7th

Wrote those notes on a sheet and sing those intervalls with the piano, over and over. If you' re really motivated take one intervall a day and train as much as you can.

Begin with playing and singing the notes and when you feel you got it, just play the C and sing C and D, same for all intervalls.

Be sure you read them on sheet as you practice pithc recognization.

Then write any note and intervalls as you can imagine and just play the first note and try to sing the second note without the help of the piano.

You also have to do it in reverse. Hear some singing lines and wrote them.

It may take times, but in my opinion ( and i've done that before) it's the best way. No need to get programs like David Lucas burge ;-)

Practice, practice and practice again everyday!

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Clap the rhythm first and get that right. The melody will then often flow/be more predictable. You really cannot learn the rhythm/phrasing of an unseen piece and get the melody right at the same time. One has to precede the other.

Once you've got the rhythm you can use familiar songs to remind you of the required intervals. Twist and Shout gives you 4! (of the seven) Ah (root), ah (3rd), ah (5th) ah (7th) with "shake (it up baby, now)" giving you the octave.

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Ronws: I tried that, but honestly I think as my singing improves, where the notes feel changes. As I learn to bridge better and sing higher the feeling of where the notes are becomes different.

Joshual: Good advice, but it doesn't account for accidentals and keys other than major (though I do assume this test will probably be in C major anyway). I'll try what you suggested with the intervals though.

Briesmith: I agree with you on nailing one part at a time and it is definitely more important to establish the rhythm first. What you touched on about using other songs to remember intervals is sort of what they taught us in college, but it never really worked because after a while my perception was all screwed up and everything started sounding the same. Good call on 'Twist and shout' though.

By the way, does anyone know any websites with practices for this? Maybe some practice melodies or something? I cannot find anything.

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Maybe i didn't express myself right:

I forgot to add:

When you have all those intervalls recognized. Play C and the sing D. Play D and then sing E play E and sing F. Next Play C and sing E, play D and sing F etc...

This way you would have all intervalls in your ears and eyes: 1-2m-2-3m-3-4th-b5-etc....

The major scale is only here to help you recognize the intervalls. No matter the key or the scale a third minor is still a third minor, a second

Now if you knwow how to read and sing those intervalls, the key or scale doesn't matter anymore. ;-). You could sigthread anything you want.

A program that could help you is earmaster, it play random intervalls and chords ;-)

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Hi Nathan, let me tell you what I've found helpful for me...

At first, I started reading very simple melodies in C or A with simple rhythmic figures and then increasing the difficulty. This is a good approach and I'm sure the school you're trying to enter will have a library with books on sight reading. Try Concone.

However, what I found that really helped me improve was to internalize tonal functions (tonic, subdominant, dominant). Sorry if my technical words are not accurate in English but it's not my native language. For instance, you could try playing a 4 bar accompaniment of I-ii-V7-I with the piano or guitar and then improvise simple melodies with 1,3,5 degrees (so for instance if you're doing it in C, the first bar can have C-E-G) etc. Do this with different keys, major and minor. For minor, remember to sharpen the 6th and 7th degrees if they are in the dominant region. That way you start internalizing how each degree sounds in a scale. Then it doesn't matter if you're in C or E or whichever key, you know how the 4th degree would sound, as opposed to thinking of F or A. Before doing this, you could try singing the scale up and down just to make sure you have the notes right. Then, work on the melodies and if possible, try to accompany yourself with the chords, but don't play the notes themselves, only the chords.

I find this approach much better than thinking about intervals, but you might find it works differently for you. Also, I recommend that you go to that school and ask them if you could see the book they use on their first year or the material they expect you to be good at in order to enter, that way you could know in advance the difficulty of the readings you'll be doing. I also think it's a good idea to do rhythmic sight reading, such as Hindemith (you can find his books pretty much everywhere) and really get to automize the harder structures, so that the rhythmic part won't be an issue for you. Usually at schools, the rhythmic-only readings have much more complex rhythmic figures than melodic readings, so you should totally aim at that. Hope this helps, at least it helped me!

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Hi Nathan,

I think the best way to learn sight-singing is a combination of playing the notes on a piano, associating intervals with bits of songs, and then testing yourself using games available online. Check http://www.Musictechteacher.com/musicquizzes.htm for lots of easy games. They're designed for kids, but they do help you to test your progress in a quick and simple way.

Also, remember that the 7th in "Twist and Shout" is a minor 7th, i.e. it's not the 7th of the major scale.

Here are some song references for intervals, and if you aren't familiar with these songs, there's a good list of them on www.earmaster.com:

Major 2nd: "God Save The Queen/My Country 'Tis Of Thee"-- the second and third pitches

Major 3rd: "Oh When The Saints Come Marching In"

Perfect 4th: "Amazing Grace"

Perfect 5th: "BaBa Black Sheep/Twinkle Twinkle Little Star/ABCD" -- the second and third pitches

Major 6th: "Hush Little Baby"

Major 7th: "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" -- the first and third pitches

Octave: "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"

Minor 2nd: "White Christmas"

Minor 3rd: "What Child Is This"

Tritone: "The Simpsons Theme"

Minor 6th: "Love Story Theme" -- the third and fourth pitches

Minor 7th: "Somewhere"

Hope this helps. Good luck!

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