Aural Comprehension Guide

David Loberg Code          Western Michigan University

Error Detection

Error recognition is a necessary skill for any teacher, conductor, or performer: being able to identify differences between what is written and what is played. It is best practiced with a partner. Use a passage with which you are familiar, or which you are confident you can sight read. Let one person plan the errors in advance and then sing the material with the errors while the second person locates and corrects them. Then reverse roles. You can profitably use the same passage several times, changing the errors each time through.Include errors of pitch, of rhythm, and both together. Include errors of pitch alone, rhythm alone, and both together. You will quickly discover two general types of errors. The first type are mistakes which make no musical sense (e.g., a completely wrong note or a rhythm which contains too many beats). These are relatively easy to detect, even without looking at the music, because they just plain sound wrong. The second type are misreadings which are musically valid, but not correct. These are much harder to detect because they do not sound out-of-place. Examples might be a leap to a different member of the same chord, or changing a dotted 8th/16th rhythm into a triplet quarter/8th.


David Loberg Code, School of Music, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, 49008. E-mail: 
Revised: 28.Feb.99       (c) 1999