Additional Dictation Advice

Because dictation is time-limited and requires a lot of component skills, it’s often not the best activity for developing those skills in the first place. If you find yourself having trouble with one of them, it’s best to work on it in isolation, making it as intuitive and automatic as possible, then re-integrate it into dictation.

  • If you have trouble with focus, work on focus exercises or find another way to build these skills.
  • If you have trouble with memory, work on extractive listening and chunking.
  • If you have trouble with analysis, you can either practice transcription to slow down the process or work on figuring out melodies that are familiar to you.
  • If you have trouble with notating something that you understand, most likely you should review the chapter on rhythmic cells.

Finally, don’t forget that knowledge resides in your body! Dictation can feel like a very passive, utterly still task, beyond the scribbling of pencils. But the more you allow yourself to move to the beat, imagine playing on an instrument, subvocalize, follow the contour of the melody with your hand in the air, and otherwise activate your internalized knowledge structures, the more you will be able to figure out.


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Foundations of Aural Skills Copyright © 2022 by Timothy Chenette is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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