Nina Hildebrand

Pre-Graduate Students with Absolute Pitch. Chances and Challenges for Integrative Courses in Aural Training and Music Theory

The topic of absolute pitch still consists of ambiguities concerning the development on one hand and incertitude about being seen as a sign for musical talent. The discussion regarding advantages versus disadvantages still couldn’t find a consistent answer within the literature. However, it clearly shows that absolute pitch is a special ability with different characteristics that needs to be treated in special ways during lessons.

Pre-graduate music students are in an exception among the German educational system, attending pre-university preparation along with their regular classes in the school. They are seen as extremely gifted due to the fact that they play their instruments as good as university students although being much younger. Besides their regular instrumental lesson they have to complete, depending on the conservatory, courses in minor subjects such as aural training and music theory.
There is a conspicuous number of pre-graduates with absolute pitch which doesn’t seem to be too extraordinary; but the accuracy of this ability in comparison to others of the same age with absolute pitch being not a pre-graduate student, is surprising. After all, is there a correlation or are there other parameters that lead to very good absolute pitch results?
Nevertheless there is a need to find a suitable concept for music theory and aural training lessons with such young talents. Because of their absolute pitch, they are in general ahead of their knowledge in music theory and they can resolve themselves unclear situations by hearing them. However, there are problems concerning structural and harmonically hearing and ignoring further musical parameters because of their ability to capture single tones and chords. That’s where lessons have to tie in by integrating music theory and aural training with extracts of entire transcriptions that are leading to an understanding of a musical ensemble; always being aware of finding a balanced mixture of conveyance simultaneously to basics.