Jonathan Guez


This article proposes a new approach to dictation based on using templates, essentially carefully designed worksheets that direct students’ eyes and ears toward relevant musical phenomena as they listen to commercial recordings. Taking dictation from templates, I argue, allows the exercise to work in service of higher order learning goals such as (1) familiarizing the student with real repertoire and compositional styles, (2) exposing students to musical recordings and offering a vocabulary for discussing them, and (3) privileging the role of sounding music in the path toward understanding music-theoretical concepts. It also provides a broadly humanistic approach to dictation that connects the sounding stuff of music to concepts that are often left to be studied on their own in written theory courses. It thus represents a reevaluation of the role of aural skills in leading the student toward mastery of theoretical, historical, and philosophical concepts.