Listening Masterclasses

Approach

The focus of this project was on facilitating expert listening training through real-world music evaluation settings. Music students were invited to act as auditioner and auditionee in a moot-audition. Auditioners experienced live-performances where the auditionees were visible to the panel, and performances behind a screen, as if at a blind audition. The auditioner students were invited to evaluate performances, and make any notes they deemed necessary to help discuss them after the performances. The students formed panels to discuss performances, as would normally take place at music auditions or competitions.

Students worked with Music Industry Advisors – experts in the field of music assessment, either as auditioners, or music researcher/educators – on best practice in performance evaluation. Advisors revealed pitfalls and strategies inherent in performance evaluations and equipped students with domain knowledge to advance their own robust approaches and templates for critical listening. Music Industry Advisors contributed to students’ panel discussions of performance assessments and facilitated their auditioner/auditionee experiences.

Performances were audio and video recorded, and arranged into three presentation conditions, Audio-only (A), Visual-only (V) and Audio-visual (AV), each prepared in randomised order. In subsequent sessions, students from the live-audition reviewed the original performances in each presentation condition (A, V, AV). They again formed a panel to discuss performances.

The notes and panel discussions from each session provided the material for evaluation of the project and the findings used to devise the next stage of the project. In this subsequent stage, participants worked on developing students’ strategies for evaluation and knowledge of the music audition environment.

The music audition provided students with experiences of music performance and evaluation in a live mock audition, and with a variety of audiovisual presentations, with and without sound. The moot audition was designed to utilise current empirical music research to demonstrate the inherent challenges of expert music listening and evaluation. This project was designed to develop music students’ awareness of the fallibilities of the assessment process, and challenge these future music experts to redefine tacit knowledge and to create more robust assessment processes.

Activities

Four cohorts took part in expert listening workshop programs, and the intent of the blind/sighted audition listening was refined to have relevance and meaning to the particular group. All groups took part in multiple sessions, with a combination of live and audiovisual auditions. The first stage of the project involved designing and implementing the blind and sighted audition workshop at SCM. The next stage involved curriculum design to incorporate the blind/sighted auditions into a series of programs at SCM and UoW.