David Butler


Gary Karpinski, Aural Skills Acquisition: The Development of Listening, Reading, and Performing Skills in College-Level Musicians. Oxford University Press, 2000. Reviewed by David Butler. The book makes an ironic first impression. When you pick it up initially, you can't help thinking that its massive title (truncated from this point on to Aural Skills Acquisition) seems misplaced on anoctavo-sized book, not quite two centimeters thick. But the title is much more appropriate than you first suspect.Aural Skills Acquisition is not just one more aural skills manual, filled to the edges with specimens for sight-singing and dictation. Rather, its focus is the pedagogy of aural skills and its range comes credibly close to the breadth suggested by the title. The book's eight chapters are collected under two major headings. Part I, slightly more than half the book's length, is titled "Listening Skills"; Part II is entitled "Reading and Performing Skills." These two headings are intended to be broader than the typical "ear training" and "sight singing" staples of the aural skills classroom, however. The former is intended to cover skills beyond music dictation, and the latter involves not just correct conversion of visual code to sound, but skilled reading and literate, tonally savvy performance.