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ABRSM Aural Exams

Courses to help prepare for ABRSM Aural Exams

Overview of the course
The Hofnote course to help prepare students for ABRSM exams are delivered in separate enrolments for each grade. That way if a student enrols for a grade they automatically receive only exercises preparing for that exam.

  • The exercises are labelled to help teachers and students see how the exercises relate to the syllabus.
  • The first number relates to the grade.
  • The Letter refers to the test in the ABRSM syllabus
  • And then sometimes there is more than one way to build that skill
Each enrolment is a single fee for four months unlimitted access
Modules Available Price What you get
Grade 1
Enrol
£8.00
1-A1 : Get the Beat!
Demo
This section contains exercises to get you to recognise the beat - 2 or 3 beats per bar. Music has a number of underlying beats, or counts, in each bar. You can learn to recognise how many beats in a bar by listening for the first beat, which is slightly more stressed than the other beats. Listen to the stressed beat - that's No 1. Then count up the remaining weaker beats. Don't confuse the number of notes you hear with the number of beats. A beat can contain two or more actual sounds.
 
1-A2 : Get the Beat - with video
Demo
If you're not sure about counting the beats in the bar, this exercise includes a trainer in the second part of each question to show you how.
 
1-B1 : Which Notes?
Demo

When music is made of the notes of a particular scale, we say it is in that key. For example, if a tune is made of the notes of the scale of C major, then the tune is in the key of C major. In the exercises the key chord sets the scene - it gives you an idea of the key the exercises are in. The key note is the first note of the scale. When you hear a musical phrase, and sing it, the most important thing is to get the intervals (gaps) between the notes exact. This exercise is a vital step in training yourself to do just that.

Exercises have been included for practice purposes in keys which are not used at Grade 1. 

 

 
1-B2 : Get that Rhythm!
Demo
Here you can get to grips with hearing rhythm and recognising the detail. By choosing the correct score in the exercises, you will be showing that you can hear small detail in the rhythm , very important for being able to reproduce the rhythm accurately.
 
1-B3 : Singing Practice
Demo
In this section, you get to put what you have learned with Exercises 1-B1 and 1-B2 all together. Sing each of the three phrases as an echo in the two-bar gaps. You will need to sing exactly at the same speed as the music you hear for it to fit in the two-bar gaps provided
 
1-C1 : Spot the Difference
Demo

PLEASE NOTE: The updated version for the 2011 changes to the syllabus has been added at the bottom. You might still want to use this exercise as further, more detailed practice.

This section contains exercises to get you to recognise changes to the rhythm of a two-bar phrase. You will hear clicks to give you the number of beats per bar and the speed of the beat, then you will hear the example. As you listen, count the beats - this will help you to recognise changes in the changed version. Now listen to the second version. Which bar does the change occur in? How is the rhythm different from the first version? Here are the some differences you might hear: - Some notes might move quicker than in the original version - Some notes might move more slowly - A dotted rhythm might be introduced - A dotted rhythm might be evened out - A rhythm pattern might be reversed

 
1-D1 : Quiz Time!
Demo
There are three things to focus on in this section: recognising changes in dynamics (piano to forte or vice versa); recognising gradual changes in tone (crescendo or diminuendo); and recognising whether a piece is played mainly staccato (detached) or legato (smooth).
 
1-C2011 : Spot the Difference
Demo
Update for January 2011.
Listen to the original and the changed version of the music. Where is the change - near the beginning or near the end?
 
Grade 2
Enrol
£8.00
2-A1 : Get the Beat!
Demo
This section contains exercises to get you to recognise the beat - 2 or 3 beats per bar. Just as in Grade 1, the examples have 2 beats per bar, or 3 beats per bar. Some of the examples are in 6/8 time, which has two main beats per bar. The main beat divides into 3 rather than 2, and gives a lilting effect. The correct answer is still 2 beats per bar for these.
 
2-B1 : Which Notes?
Demo
When music is made of the notes of a particular scale, we say it is in that key. For example, if a tune is made of the notes of the scale of C major, then the tune is in the key of C major. In the exercises the key chord sets the scene - it gives you an idea of the key the exercises are in. The key note is the first note of the scale. When you hear a musical phrase, and sing it, the most important thing is to get the intervals (gaps) between the notes exact. This exercise, which builds on the work you did at Grade 1, is a vital step in training yourself to do just that.
 
2-B2 : Get that Rhythm!
Demo
Here you can get to grips with hearing rhythm and recognising the detail. By choosing the correct score in the exercises, you will be showing that you can hear small detail in the rhythm , very important for being able to reproduce the rhythm accurately.
 
2-B3 : Singing Practice
Demo
In this section, you get to put what you have learned with Exercises 2-B1 and 2-B2 all together. Sing each of the three phrases as an echo in the two-bar gaps. You will need to sing exactly at the same speed as the music you hear for it to fit in the two-bar gaps provided
 
2-C1 : Spot the Difference - Rhythmic or Melodic?
Demo
This section contains exercises to get you to recognise changes to a two-bar phrase. Here are the some differences you might hear: - Some notes might move quicker than in the original version - Some notes might move more slowly - A dotted rhythm might be introduced - A dotted rhythm might be evened out - A rhythm pattern might be reversed - A note is higher or lower In Grade 1 the only changes affected the rhythm. For example the first note might be made longer by putting a dot after it. We call these kind of changes rhythmic changes. At Grade 2, there is another kind of difference to notice as well: a note might be made higher or lower. We call this a melodic change. In this exercise you need to determine if this is a melodic or a rhythmic change. At the begining of each piece you will hear the key chord and a number of clicks. This will give you the key the phrase is in and the speed of the beat to help you get tuned in!
 
2-C2 : Spot the Difference - Where is the change?
Demo
This section concentrates on identifying the bar in which there is a rhythmic or melodic change.
 
2-C3 : Spot the Difference - Identifying rhythmic changes
Demo
This section concentrates on rhythmic changes. Here are the some differences you might hear: - Some notes might move quicker than in the original version - Some notes might move more slowly - A dotted rhythm might be introduced - A dotted rhythm might be evened out - A rhythm pattern might be reversed
 
2-C4 : Spot the Difference - Identifying melodic changes
Demo
This section concentrates on melodic changes. Notes may be higher or lower in the second clip.
 
2-C5 : Spot the difference
Demo
This section brings together all the different changes which may occur. There is a sequence of questions on different aspects in turn.
 
2-D1 : Quiz Time!
Demo
There are four things to focus on in this section: recognising changes in dynamics (piano to forte or vice versa); recognising gradual changes in tone (crescendo or diminuendo); and recognising whether a piece is played mainly staccato (detached) or legato (smooth). The new thing for Grade 2 is changes of speed (tempo).
 
Grade 3
Enrol
£8.00
3-A1 : Get the Beat!
Demo
This section contains exercises to get you to recognise the beat - 2, 3 or 4 beats per bar. Some of the examples are in 6/8 time, which has two main beats per bar. Others are in 9/8 time, which has three main beats per bar. You will soon learn to recognise these as you work through the exercise. Don't worry if you get them wrong to begin with! The main beat divides into 3 rather than 2, and gives a lilting effect.
 
3-B1 : Which Notes?
Demo
When music is made of the notes of a particular scale, we say it is in that key. For example, if a tune is made of the notes of the scale of C major, then the tune is in the key of C major. In the exercises the key chord sets the scene - it gives you an idea of the key the exercises are in. The key note is the first note of the scale. When you hear a musical phrase, and sing it, the most important thing is to get the intervals (gaps) between the notes exact. This exercise, which builds on the work you did at Grade 2, is a vital step in training yourself to do just that.
 
3-B2 : Get that Rhythm!
Demo
Here you can get to grips with hearing rhythm and recognising the detail. By choosing the correct score in the exercises, you will be showing that you can hear small detail in the rhythm , very important for being able to reproduce the rhythm accurately.
 
3-B3 : Singing Practice
Demo
In this section, you get to put what you have learned with Exercises 3-B1 and 3-B2 all together. Sing each of the three phrases as an echo in the two-bar gaps. You will need to sing exactly at the same speed as the music you hear for it to fit in the two-bar gaps provided
 
3-C1 : Spot the Difference
Demo
This section contains exercises to get you to recognise changes to a four-bar phrase. Here are the some differences you might hear: - Some notes might move quicker than in the original version - Some notes might move more slowly - A dotted rhythm might be introduced - A dotted rhythm might be evened out - A rhythm pattern might be reversed - A note is higher or lower In Grade 1 the only changes affected the rhythm. For example the first note might be made longer by putting a dot after it. We call these kind of changes rhythmic changes. At Grade 2, there is another kind of difference to notice as well: a note might be made higher or lower. We call this a melodic change. In Grade 3 the length of the sample is extended to 4 bars but you still need to determine if this is a melodic or a rhythmic change. At the begining of each piece you will hear the key chord and a number of clicks. This will give you the key the phrase is in and the speed of the beat to help you get tuned in!
 
3-C2 : Spot the Difference - Where is the change?
Demo
This section concentrates on identifying the bar in which there is a rhythmic or melodic change.
 
3-C3 : Spot the Difference - Identifying rhythmic changes
Demo
This section concentrates on rhythmic changes. Here are the some differences you might hear: - Some notes might move quicker than in the original version - Some notes might move more slowly - A dotted rhythm might be introduced - A dotted rhythm might be evened out - A rhythm pattern might be reversed
 
3-C4 : Spot the Difference - Identifying melodic changes
Demo
This section concentrates on melodic changes. Notes may be higher or lower in the second clip.
 
3-C5 : Spot the difference
Demo
This section brings together all the different changes which may occur. There is a sequence of questions on different aspects in turn.
 
3-D1 : Quiz Time!
Demo
There are several things to focus on in this section: recognising changes in dynamics (piano to forte or vice versa); recognising gradual changes in tone (crescendo or diminuendo); and recognising whether a piece is played mainly staccato (detached) or legato (smooth). You also need to recognise changes of speed (tempo). The thing at Grade 3 is to recognise the difference between major and minor.
 
Grade 4
Enrol
£9.50
4-A1 : Sing or Play
Demo
In this exercise, you will see two scores and listen to a music clip. The scores are very little different from each other, and you will need to listen carefully to decide which one is correct.There are two main benefits in this exercise:firstly, seeing the score helps you to visualise the music. When listen to a single line of music, try to see the shape of it in your head. Does it go up or down? Are there things you recognise , for example, parts of scales or broken chords? Secondly, identifying the correct score helps you to listen in the detailed way that will enable you to remember the music. Then you will be able to sing it from memory much more easily.
 
4-A2a : Sing or Play Practice 1
Demo

 Here you can practise playing or singing the musical phrase yourself. Make sure to listen to the clip twice before attempting to sing or play it

These examples are of a similar difficulty to the one you'll get in the exam.

Please note that this exercise doesn't record your performance and doesn't mark you on it!  

 

 
4-A2b : Sing or Play Practice 2
Demo

These pieces are somewhat more difficult. If you can do these, you'll have no difficulty in the exam. Otherwise, they are good practice on your way to Grade 5.

Please note that this exercise doesn't record your performance and doesn't mark you on it! 

 
4-B1 : Hear Those Notes!
Demo
These exercises give you practice in sight-singing individual notes. You can check whether or not you sang them in tune by clicking on the corresponding letter name.
 
4-C1 : Quiz Time!
Demo
Answer the questions about the pieces of music. There are questions about dynamics, articulation, tempo, major and minor, and about the character of the music. You will soon get the idea when you look at the range of answers in the multiple-choice questions.
 
4-C2011-1 : Quiz Time - Dynamics
Demo
This exercise is the update for the revisions from January 2011.
 
4-C2011-2 : Quiz Time - Tempo
Demo
Update for January 2011.
Listen to the music, and decide whether there are any changes in tempo (speed of the beat).
 
4-C2011-3 : Quiz Time - Major or minor?
Demo
Update for January 2011.
Listen to the piece and decide whether it is in a major or a minor key.
 
4-C2011-4 : Quiz Time - Articulation
Demo
Update for January 2011.
Listen for the articulation (legato / staccato) and answer the questions.
 
4-C2011-5 : Quiz Time - Character
Demo
Update for January 2011.
This exercise takes you through the features that contribute to the character of a piece.
 
4-C2011-6 : Clap the Rhythm of the Extract
Demo
Here you get an opportunity to listen to the complete piece again (if you need to - but better not to!) and then to listen to an extract form the melody. Clap the rhythm of the extract.
 
Grade 5
Enrol
£9.50
5-A0a : Remembering Musical Phrases UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Demo

This series of preparatory exercises helps you to build up your musical memory. Each exercise becomes a little more challenging as it progresses.

The first exercise concntrates on, few notes, simple rhythms and intervals of a 2nd. 

 
5-A1 : Sing or Play
Demo
In this exercise, you will see two scores and listen to a music clip. The scores are very little different from each other, and you will need to listen carefully to decide which one is correct.There are two main benefits in this exercise:firstly, seeing the score helps you to visualise the music. When listen to a single line of music, try to see the shape of it in your head. Does it go up or down? Are there things you recognise , for example, parts of scales or broken chords? Secondly, identifying the correct score helps you to listen in the detailed way that will enable you to remember the music. Then you will be able to sing it from memory much more easily.
 
5-A2 : Sing or Play Practice
Demo

Here you can practise playing or singing the musical phrase yourself. Make sure to listen to the clip twice before attempting to sing or play it.

Tunes in the treble can be sung an octave lower!

Please note that this exercise doesn't record your performance and doesn't mark you on it!  

 
5-B1 : Hear Those Notes!
Demo
These exercises give you practice in sight-singing individual notes. You can check whether or not you sang them in tune by clicking on the corresponding letter name.
 
5-C1 : Quiz Time!
Demo
Answer the questions about the pieces of music. There are questions about dynamics, articulation, tempo, major and minor, and about the character, style and period of the music. You will soon get the idea when you look at the range of answers in the multiple-choice questions.
 
5-C2A : Clap the Rhythm
Demo

 
5-C2011-1 : Quiz Time - Dynamics
Demo

Update for 2011

Listen for the dynamics, and answer the questions. 

 
5-C2011-2 : Quiz Time - Major or minor?
Demo
Update for Jan 2011
Is the piece in a major or a minor key, or does it change? Be sure to read the question in each of these exercises carefully!
 
5-C2011-3 : Quiz Time - Articulation
Demo
Update for January 2011
Listen for the articulation  - legato and staccato. You'll be asked a series of questions.
 
5-C2011-4 : Quiz Time - Character
Demo
Update for January 2011
What are the features of a piece that give it its character? These questions will guide you through.
 
Grade 6
Enrol
£11.00
6-A1 : Hear that Part!
Demo
To be able to sing a melody from memory, you need sharp listening skills. This exercise will help you to listen to what is there, rather than what you think might be there!. Of the answers given, one is correct, of course, but the other contains rhythmic and melodic mistakes. Can you recognise the correct answer? This exercise also serves as preliminary practice for clapping the rhythm of a short phrase.
 
6-A2 : Singing Practice
Demo
Now have a go at singing the upper part of the two in the examples you've been working through in the previous exercise. Listen to each clip twice before attempting to sing it.
 
6-A3 : Singing Practice with help
Demo
You might want to try this before 6-A2. You are given the opportunity to listen to the upper part played by itself, so you can check that you're hearing it properly when both parts are played together.
 
6-B1 : Practise your Sight Singing
Demo

In this exercise, you can practise sight singing with an accompaniment. The key chord and the pulse are given at the beginning: the pulse counts you in.

Please note that this exercise doesn't record your performance and doesn't mark you on it!  

 
6-C1 : Get those Cadences
Demo
A cadence consists of two chords at the end of a phrase. At this grade, you need to know about two types of cadence: perfect and imperfect. An imperfect cadence comes to rest on the dominant chord, and leads you to expect a following phrase. A perfect cadence comes to rest on the tonic chord, and usually (but not always!) sounds final.
 
6-C2 : Major or Minor? [Not required for 2011 exams]
Demo

Here are examples of a major key and a minor key. Use the exercises to practise recognising major and minor keys.

PLEASE NOTE: For 2011 this requirement has been dropped from ABRSM exams, but we are leaving this exercise live as an option.

 
6-D1 : Quiz Time!
Demo
Now it's time to build on your listening skills, and build on what you know about the form, style, texture and period of music. There are direct, multiple choice questions on these things, which lead you through the different things you need to know. As you work through, you will build up your knowledge and gain confidence in discussing musical matters.
 
Grade 7
Enrol
£13.00
7-A1 : Hear that Part!
Demo
To be able to sing a melody from memory, you need sharp listening skills This exercise will help you to listen to what is there, rather than what you think might be there!. Of the answers given, one is correct, of course, but the other contains rhythmic and melodic mistakes. Can you recognise the correct answer? This exercise also serves as preliminary practice for clapping the rhythm of a short phrase.
 
7-A2 : Practice: Sing or Play the Lower Part
Demo

Now have a go at singing the lower part of the two in the examples you've been working through in the previous exercise. Listen to each clip twice before attempting to sing it.

 

 
7-A3 : More Practice for Sing or Play
Demo
Have a go at singing the lower part of the two in these examples. Listen to each clip twice before attempting to sing it.
 
7-B1 : Practise your Sight Singing
Demo

In this exercise, you can practise sight singing the upper part with an accompanying lower part. Six of these examples have both parts playing so you can check your intonation against the actual part. The key chord, starting note and the pulse are given at the beginning: the pulse counts you in.

Please note that this exercise doesn't record your performance and doesn't mark you on it!  

 
7-C1 : Cadences
Demo
A cadence consists of two chords at the end of a phrase. At this grade, you need to know about two types of cadence: perfect and imperfect. An imperfect cadence comes to rest on the dominant chord, and leads you to expect a following phrase. A perfect cadence comes to rest on the tonic chord, and usually (but not always!) sounds final. An interrupted cadence consists of the dominant (or dominant 7th chord) followed by the submediant chord. As its name implies, it produces an interruption to the flow of the music, after which you expect something else.
 
7-C2 : Major or Minor?
Demo
Here are examples of a major key and a minor key. Use the exercises to practise recognising major and minor keys. While you won't be asked this in the exam, it's still a useful exercise to keep you on your toes!
 
7-C3 : Get those Chords!
Demo
As you work through these exercises, you will learn to recognise the chords, which you will hear in pairs. The difference between chord V and chord V7 is perhaps a little tricky: listen for the extra note which creates a dissonance in chord V7, and resolves downwards.
 
7-C4 : Get that Modulation!
Demo
There are three possible modulations (changes of key) to listen for: from the tonic to the dominant; tonic to subdominant; and tonic to relative minor. Of all these, the relative minor is perhaps the easiest to recognise. The way to do the exercise is to keep the original key note in your head, and to compare it with the bottom note of the last chord.
 
7-D1 : Quiz Time!
Demo
Now it's time to build on your listening skills, and build on what you know about the form, style, texture and period of music. There are direct, multiple choice questions on these things, which lead you through the different things you need to know. As you work through, you will build up your knowledge and gain confidence in discussing musical matters.
 
Grade 8
Enrol
£15.00
8-A1 : Hear that Part 1
Demo
Look at the scores, and decide which one represents the lowest part of the three. This exercise will fine-tune your listening skills as you weed out the melodic and rhythmic mistakes which distinguish the wrong part. Use the clip to practise memorising the lower part and singing it when you have worked through the exercise.
 
8-A1b : Hear that Part 2
Demo
Listen to the lowest of three parts and sing it. You have the option to see the complete score if you want to check!
 
8-A2 : Get that Cadence!
Demo
More practice with cadences. This time, you will find not only perfect imperfect, and interrupted cadences, but plagal cadences as well.
 
8-A3 : Get those Chords!
Demo
Listen to the clip, and decide which sequence of chords is the one played. You will hear the key chord first, followed by the chords to identify. The Roman notation adopted here does not use lower case for minor chords.
 
8-B1 : Practise your Sight Singing
Demo

In this exercise, you can practise sight singing the lower part with an accompanying upper part. The key chord, starting note and the pulse are given at the beginning: the pulse counts you in.

 Please note that this exercise doesn't record your performance and doesn't mark you on it!  

 
8-C1 : Get that Modulation!
Demo
More modulations are added to the ones you already know: to the dominant minor and relative major from a minor key. 
 
8-D1 : Quiz Time!
Demo
Now it's time to build on your listening skills, and build on what you know about the form, style, texture and period of music. There are direct, multiple choice questions on these things, which lead you through the different things you need to know. As you work through, you will build up your knowledge and gain confidence in discussing musical matters.
 

What is ABRSM Aural?

ABRSM's core activity is the operation of an authoritative and internationally recognised system of exams and assessments. These are designed to encourage and motivate players and singers at all levels through the provision of goals and the measurement of progress. In addition to graded examinations, ABRSM publishes many collections of music, and provides training and workshop events for students and teachers.

Click here to visit ABRSM's own site