We have created a target set of training materials for the Music Aptitude Test in conjunction with music technology experts. These sample tests are created in line with the MAT syllabus and will help you prepare for the test. Our test materials Blank test sheets and answers are available to download on our dedicated Music Aptitude Test web site.
Scholarship letters have now been sent to all students that have requested them for their music scholarship applications. The deadline to send off your completed forms, along with a parents’ supporting statement is usually the end of September 2012. Summer is the perfect time to prepare yourself for the auditions that are coming up in the Autumn term for state school scholarships to local schools such as Kingsdale, Prendergast and Haberdasher’s. A student applying for a scholarship should definitely be using their time wisely this Summer to swot up on all things musical! See below for some tips on how to structure your practice over the Summer, even if you are away from your instrument.
1. Spend a bit of time each day working on the Music Aptitude Test (MAT).
You can do various tests online that will help you prepare for the MAT. Do make sure you prepare for this as if you do not succeed at this test, you will, unfortunately, not be asked to audition. Sample MAT questions are here.
2. Take some theory books on holiday with you.
Summer is the best time to brush up on music theory. As a music scholarship student, you will be expected to take GCSE music which includes a lot of music theory. There is a great book for students that have not sat any theory exams to get you up to Grade 5 level. The book is called “Take Five and Pass First Time” by Christopher Dunn and costs £8.99. The next theory session is in November 2012, usually at Dunraven School in Streatham.
3. Enter a festival
If you pass the MAT, you will be invited to an audition infront of a panel of musicians. If you do not have much experience of this, you should try to prepare yourself fully by entering some festivals so that you can combat your nerves. There are lots of festivals to enter in Summer including the Dulwich Piano Festival. You will gain invaluable experience of performing infront of a very small audience as well as receiving extremely useful feedback from the adjudicators on your performance. The adjudicators are Graham Fitch and Frances Wilson.
It is probably no surprise that students who regularly take part in festivals are the ones that excel at the auditions as they are the most at ease under pressure. Festivals are much more informal than exams as there is less pressure to get things right as you are not being awarded an exam mark. Kingsdale School, for example, enter their music students for Beckenham, Blackheath and Croydon Music Festivals so it’s well worth entering these so you have the advantage of experience. Have a look at the details of Kingsdale’s Music scholarships so you can see what they would expect you to take part in if you were awarded the scholarship. Here is last year’s music calendar so you can see just how much is on offer in the Music department!
4. Memorise your pieces.
I advise all my students to perform by memory on the day as pianists rarely ever play with the music when performing as a soloist. By now, you will already know your chosen piano piece to performance standard, so use the time over Summer to start memorising. Remember – never perform something from memory without doing a trial run of it at least once in public. This can either be a recital infront of family, or something more formal like the festivals mentioned above.
You will be asked some questions about your musical knowledge and ambitions. Get your parents or friends to ask you these questions so that you have to think on your feet to come up with an answer. We will also be brushing up on answers to these questions in your lessons in the Autumn term.
Why do you like music?
Tell me how you practice?
What would you contribute to the musical life of the department?
What musical activities are you involved in?
What pieces do you really enjoy playing and why?
Who is your favourite composer and why?
6. Dig out your certificates!
Some schools allow you to submit copies of certificates with your application so gather together all your certificates from festivals, exams and any other events to send with your application as these always look impressive! You can include certificates from all exam boards, not just ABRSM but Rockschool, jazz exams etc.
As well as using the online Music Aptitude Training Tests, there are some great CDs and DVDs available to help you practice your ear training. Here’s a selection of useful resources:
An excellent workshop from the assistant chair of the Ear Training Department at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, this DVD is a vital intro to the topic for songwriters and performers looking to improve their listening skills and become better musicians.
You’ll learn to:
*Recognise chord progressions quickly and confidently.
*Incorporate them into your writing and performing.
*Listen to music more analytically.
*Apply this knowledge to all of your projects.
The Complete Guide for All Musicians. This book and double CD pack takes you step by step through MI’s well-known Ear Training course. Complete lessons and analysis include: basic pitch matching · singing major and minor scales · identifying intervals · transcribing melodies and rhythm · identifying chords and progressions · seventh chords and the blues · modal interchange, chromaticism, modulation · and more! Learn to hear and to visualize on your instrument. Take your playing from good to great! Over 2 hours of practice exercises – with complete answers in the back.
Essential Ear Training For the Contemporary Musician The Ear Training curriculum of Berklee College of Music is known and respected throughout the world. This method teaches musicians to hear the music they are seeing, notate the music they have composed or arranged, develop their music vocabulary, and understand the music they are hearing. The book features a complete course with text and musical examples, and studies in rhythm, sight recognition, sol-fa, and melody.
Nb: This book is fantastic for learning to memorise music. You may wish to perform a piece from memory at your audition. This book gives you a solid foundation to start memorising longer pieces of music with accuracy and a good sense of recall to avoid those moments where your mind goes blank! I have listed this book last as it is not particularly relevant to Round 1 of the Music Aptitude Test but nonetheless it is an excellent resource if you have given yourself ample time to prepare for the music scholarships. If you are about to sit the test next week, then skip this book!