Musicianship Self-Evaluation

© Marianne Ploger in Brentwood, TN 1999-2010

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         To be a fully realized musician requires a high degree of craft, not only in the development of the ear and of coordination skills but in the area of literacy – the ability to read, write and comprehend music fluently.
 
        This self assessment is meant to help aspiring musical artists interested in rating their level of literacy at each of many developmental steps, from the simplest to the most complex.  From my own experience as a musician and as a teacher of musicians ranging from small children to music students, professional musicians, conductors, composers, educators, and even retired doctors, I can attest to the fact that each of these skills can be developed to a high degree through principled, mindful attention.  In doing this assessment, it is important to remember that talent is not a prerequisite to achieve success in each skill, unless by talent what is meant is a deep and abiding interest that propels us to mastery.  Therefore, use the assessment as an indicator of how your current skill levels compare with your imagined potential – this imagined potential can propel you toward the goal if you focus upon it with joy.
 
        In creating this assessment, I have imagined for myself the most consummate musician, Johann Sebastian Bach, and the skills he is thought to have mastered, not from talent but from constant application and effort.  It was he who said, “Anyone who works as hard as I can do the same.”  He did not say, “Nobody will ever be able to be as skillful as I because I am so talented.”  We can be thankful to him for his honesty and integrity.
 
        Please rejoice for every point you give yourself – each is crucial in the development of your eventual musical mastery.
 
        The concept of the musical keyboard is, as I call it, “the thinking tool of the musician” because it aids in the perception of music pitch space, it is included in a large number of skills in the assessment.  It is not expected that a high degree of keyboard playing skill is expected or required however.  The majority of my students have been non-keyboardists yet nevertheless have been successful at achieving high levels of skill with a modicum of practice using this concept.


Rate yourself, on a scale from 0 to 10, in each of the areas listed below.  A rating of 10 indicates a level of effortless and reliable fluency.


Pitch/Note skills

On the keyboard, I can point to any of the seven basic diatonic notes in any octave, naming both by letter and solfege syllable, fluently, in real-time:  
______  1)  C/Doh                                                                                                         
______  2)  D/Re                                                                                                           
______  3)  E/Mi                                                                                                                       
______  4)  F/Fa                                                                                                            
______  5)  G/Sol                                                                                                          
______  6)  A/La                                                                                                            
______  7)  B/Si                                                                                                            
 
On the keyboard, I can point to the sharp manifestations of the seven basic diatonic notes in any octave, naming both by letter and solfege syllable, fluently, in real-time:
______  1)  C#/Doh-sharp                                                                                                
______  2)  D#/Re-sharp                                                                                                  
______  3)  E#/Mi-sharp                                                                                      
______  4)  F#/Fa-sharp                                                                                                  
______  5)  G#/Sol-sharp                                                                                                 
______  6)  A#/La-sharp                                                                                                  
______  7)  B#/Si-sharp                                                                                                  
 
On the keyboard, I can point to the flat manifestations of the seven basic diatonic notes in any octave, naming both by letter and solfege syllable, fluently, in real-time:
______  1)  Cb/Doh-flat                                                                                                  
______  2)  Db/Re-flat                                                                                                    
______  3)  Eb/Mi-flat                                                                                                    
______  4)  Fb/Fa-flat                                                                                                     
______  5)  Gb/Sol-flat                                                                                                   
______  6)  Ab/La-flat                                                                                                     
______  7)  Bb/Si-flat                                                                                                     
 
I can identify by ear and sing the following pitches in real-time, in either tonal or atonal contexts, indicating both by letter and fixed solfege syllable:
______  1)   C/Doh; B#/Si-sharp                                                                                      
______  2)   C#/Doh-sharp; Db/Re-flat                                                                               
______  3)   D/Re                                                                                                          
______  4)   Eb/Mi-flat; D#/Re-sharp                                                                                 
______  5)   E/Mi; Fb/Fa-flat                                                                                           
______  6)   F/Fa; E#/Mi-sharp                                                                                        
______  7)   F#/Fa-sharp; Gb/Sol-flat                                                                                
______  8)   G/Sol                                                                                                         
______  9)   G#/Sol-sharp                                                                                                
______  10) A/La                                                                                                           
______  11) Bb/Si-flat; A#/La-sharp                                                                                  
______  12) B/Si; Cb/Doh-flat                                                                                         
 
I can visually recognize and name notes on a staff in real time in the following clefs and can visualize each in its precise location on the keyboard (in the correct octave disposition):
______  1) Treble                                                                                                           
______  2) Bass                                                                                                             
______  3) Alto                                                                                                             
______  4) Tenor                                                                                                            
______  5) Soprano                                                                                                        
______  6) Mezzo Soprano                                                                                               
______  7) Baritone                                                                                                        
 
I can identify the interval (2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th) transposition from the treble clef to each of the following clefs:
______  1) Bass                                                                                     
______  2) Alto                                                                                                             
______  3) Tenor                                                                                                            
______  4) Soprano                                                                                                        
______  5) Mezzo Soprano                                                                                               
______  6) Baritone
 
© Marianne Ploger  in Brentwood, TN 1999-2010


Interval Skills

I can identify by ear and sing the following intervals above and below any note in real time, in either tonal or atonal contexts, whether simple or compound:
______  1)  minor 2nd/chromatic half-step; dichord [1]                                                           
______  2)  major 2nd/ diminished 3rd; dichord [2]                                                                
______  3)  minor 3rd/augmented 2nd; dichord [3]                                                                 
______  4)  major 3rd/diminished 4th; dichord [4]                                                                 
______  5)  perfect 4th/ /augmented 3rd (optional); dichord [5]                                                  
______  6)   augmented 4th/diminished 5th; dichord [6]                                                          
______  7)   perfect 5th/ dimishied 6th (optional); dichord [7]                                                  
______  8)   minor 6th/ augmented 5th; dichord [8]                                                                
______  9)   major 6th/ diminished 7th; dichord [9]                                                               
______  10) minor 7th/ augmented 6th; dichord [10]                                                              
______  11) major 7th/diminished 8ve; dichord [11]                                                              
 
I can visually recognize and name the following diatonic intervals between any pair of notes written on a staff in real time:
______  1)   2nds                                                                                                                       
______  2)   3rds                                                                                                            
______  3)   4ths                                                                                                            
______  4)   5ths                                                                                                            
______  5)   6ths                                                                                                            
______  6)   7ths                                                                                                            
______  7)   8ves                                                                                                                       
______  8)   9ths                                                                                                            
______  9)   10ths                                                                                                          
______  10) 11ths                                                                                                          
______  11) 12ths  

                                                                                                                                                                  
I can visually recognize and name the exact interval size (major 2nd, minor 3rd, et cetera) between any pair of notes on the staff in real time, averaging your score by giving each specific interval 33% of the total score in each line below:           
______  1) major, minor and  augmented 2nds                                                                    
______  2) major, minor and diminished 3rds                                                         
______  3) perfect, diminished and augmented 4ths                                                              
______  4) perfect, diminished and augmented 5ths                                                              
______  5) major, minor and augmented 6ths                                                                      
______  6) major, minor and diminished 7ths                                                                     
                                                                                     
I know the number of half-steps between any pair of notes, either written or heard; (i.e. you know the interval class number for any interval).                           
______
 
I can identify through reading and through hearing the exact degree of any pitch in one of the following tonal scales, fluently in real time:
______  1)  The major scale                                                                                             
______  2)  The melodic minor scale                                                                                 
______  3)  The harmonic minor scale
                                                                                   
I can effortlessly imagine the sound of and sing any degree of the following scales:
______  1)  The major scale                                                                                             
______  2)  The melodic minor scale                                                                                 
______  3)  The harmonic minor scale                                                                                
 
I can read, write and perform the basic division of any given beat into the following number of parts, correctly articulating any combination of those parts within the beat as indicated in rhythmic notation:
______  1) two equal parts                                                                                                           
_______2) three equal parts                                                                                              
_______3) four equal parts                                                                                               
_______4) five equal parts                                                                                               
_______5) six equal parts                                                                                                            
_______6) seven equal parts                                                                                             
                                                                                   
I can accurately perform any single-line rhythm in real time from pieces composed in the following periods:
______  Renaissance                                                                                                       
______  Baroque                                                                                                
______  Classical                                                                                                           
______  Romantic/Post-Romantic                                                                                     
______  Modern/Post-Modern                                                                                          
 
Using clefs, I can transpose to concert pitch  and sing at sight in fixed doh syllables any single part from an orchestral score which is played by one of the following common transposing instruments:
______  1)  B-flat instruments                                                                                          
_______2)  B instruments (H)                                                                                          
_______3)  D instruments                                                                                                
_______4)  A instruments                                                                                                
_______5)  E-flat instruments
______  6)  F instruments                                                                                                
_______7)  G instruments
 
© Marianne Ploger  in Brentwood, TN 1999-2010
                                                                                               


Skills needed to read two lines simultaneously

I can read and play on the piano (play both; sing one, play the other) in real time in two parts
______1) Both parts in the treble clef.                                                                                
______2) Both parts in the bass clef.                                                                                 
______3) Both parts in the alto clef                                                                                   
______4) Both parts in the tenor clef                                                                     
______5) Both parts in the soprano clef                                                                              
______6) Both parts in the mezzo soprano clef                                                                    
______7) Both parts in the baritone clef                                                                             
 
I can read and play on the piano (play both; sing one, play the other) in real time, in two parts, with each part in a different clef from the other.
______1)   treble and bass                                                                        
______2)   treble and alto                                                                                                
______3)   treble and tenor                                                                                               
______4)   treble and soprano                                                                   
______5)   treble and mezzo soprano                                                                                  
______6)   treble and baritone                                                                                           
______7)   bass and alto                                                                                                  
______8)   bass and tenor                                                                        
______9)   bass and soprano                                                                                             
______10) bass and mezzo soprano                                                            
______11) bass and baritone                                                                                             
______12) alto and tenor                                                                                     
______13) alto and soprano                                                                                  
______14) alto and mezzo soprano                                                                        
______15) alto and baritone                                                                                             
______16) tenor and soprano                                                                                            
______17) tenor and mezzo soprano                                                                                   
______18) tenor and baritone                                                                                            
______19) soprano and mezzo soprano                                                                               
______20) soprano and baritone                                                                                        
______21) mezzo soprano and baritone                                                                               
 
I can read and identify the exact interval between any pair of pitches written on two separate staves with the same clef:
______1) treble                                                                                                              
______2) bass                                                                                                                
______3) alto                                                                                                                
______4) tenor                                                                                                               
______5) soprano                                                                                                           
______6) mezzo soprano                                                                                                  
______7) baritone                                                                                                           
 
I can read and identify the exact interval (classic name and/or interval class number) between any pair of pitches written on two separate staves, each in a different clef:
______1)  treble and bass                                                                                     
______2)  treble and alto                                                                                                 
______3)  treble and tenor                                                                                    
______4)  treble and soprano                                                                                            
______5)  treble and mezzo soprano                                                                                   
______6)  treble and baritone                                                                                            
______7)  bass and alto                                                                                                   
______8)  bass and tenor                                                                                                 
______9)  bass and soprano                                                                                              
______10) bass and mezzo soprano                                                                        
______11) bass and baritone                                                                                 
______12) alto and tenor                                                                         
______13) alto and soprano                                                                                              
______14) alto and mezzo soprano                                                                        
______15) alto and baritone                                                                                             
______16) tenor and soprano                                                                                            
______17) tenor and mezzo soprano                                                                                   
______18) tenor and baritone                                                                                
______19) soprano and mezzo soprano                                                                               
______20) soprano and baritone                                                                                        
______21) mezzo soprano and baritone
 
© Marianne Ploger  in Brentwood, TN 1999-2010


Rhythm skills

I can read and perform simultaneously a tempo two different rhythms having the same meter signature and the smallest note value is a quarter note:
______  1) when the meter is in 2/4                                                                                               
_______2) when the meter is in 3/4                                                                                               
_______3) when the meter is in 4/4                                                                                               
_______4) when the meter is in 5/4                                                                                               
_______5) when the meter is in 6/4 or 6/2                                                                          
_______6) when the meter is in 7/4                                                                       
_______7) when the meters change from bar to bar (mixed meter)                                           
 
I can read and perform two different rhythmic lines simultaneously which have the same meter signature and whose smallest note value is an eighth note:
______  1) when the meter is in 2/4                                                                                               
_______2) when the meter is in 3/4                                                                                               
_______3) when the meter is in 4/4                                                                                               
_______4) when the meter is in 5/4                                                                                               
_______5) when the meter is in 6/4 or 6/2                                                                          
_______6) when the meter is in 7/4                                                                                               
_______7) when the meters change from bar to bar (mixed meter)                                           
 
I can read and perform two different rhythmic lines simultaneously which have the same meter signature and whose smallest note value is an eighth note triplet:
______  1) when the meter is in 2/4                                                                                               
_______2) when the meter is in 3/4                                                                                               
_______3) when the meter is in 4/4                                                                                               
_______4) when the meter is in 5/4                                                                                               
_______5) when the meter is in 6/4 or 6/2                                                                          
_______6) when the meter is in 7/4                                                                                               
_______7) when the meters change from bar to bar (mixed meter)                                           
 
I can read and perform two different rhythmic lines simultaneously which have the same meter signature and whose smallest note value is sixteenth note:
______  1) when the meter is in 2/4                                                                                               
_______2) when the meter is in 3/4                                                                                               
_______3) when the meter is in 4/4                                                                                               
_______4) when the meter is in 5/4                                                                                               
_______5) when the meter is in 6/4 or 6/2                                                                          
_______6) when the meter is in 7/4                                                                                               
_______7) when the meters change from bar to bar (mixed meter)                                           
 
I can perform the following polyrhythms:
______  1) 3 against 2 (3:2) or 2 against 3                                                                          
_______2) 4 against 3 (4:3) or 4 against 3                                                                          
_______3) 5 against 2 (5:2) or 2 against 5                                                                          
_______4) 5 against 3 (5:3) or 3 against 5                                                  
_______5) 6 against 4 (6:4) or 4 against 6                                                                          
_______6) 7 against 3 (7:3) or 3 against 7                                                                          
_______7) others                                                                                                            
 
I can read and perform two different rhythmic lines simultaneously which have the same meter signature with one line subdividing into eighths and the other into triplets (2:3):
______  1) when the meter is in 2/4                                                                                               
_______2) when the meter is in 3/4                                                                                               
_______3) when the meter is in 4/4                                                                                               
_______4) when the meter is in 5/4                                                                                               
_______5) when the meter is in 6/4 or 6/2                                                                          
_______6) when the meter is in 7/4                                                                       
_______7) when the meters change from bar to bar (mixed meter)                                           
 
I can read and perform two different rhythmic lines simultaneously which have the same meter signature with one line subdividing into sixteenths and the other into triplets (4:3):
______  1) when the meter is in 2/4                                                                                               
_______2) when the meter is in 3/4                                                                                               
_______3) when the meter is in 4/4                                                                                               
_______4) when the meter is in 5/4                                                                                               
_______5) when the meter is in 6/4 or 6/2                                                                          
_______6) when the meter is in 7/4                                                                       
_______7) when the meters change from bar to bar (mixed meter)                                           
 
Total
 
___________________
 
© Marianne Ploger  in Brentwood, TN 1999-2010
 
From this assessment you can ascertain some of your strengths and weaknesses.

On a separate page, write out which areas received your highest ratings.  List the areas in which your ratings were the lowest, placing the weakest areas at the top.  Outline for yourself, on your own, how you could significantly strengthen the areas of greatest weakness in the shortest amount of time.
 
After doing this, if you have questions about how to improve these areas, write them down.  Seek out guidance from a trusted and respected musician who has mastered that particular weak skill.  If no guidance exists, imagine a master musician.  What would they do if they had an identical weakness?  What exercises might they come up with?  From performing this imagination exercise, were you able to come up with more ideas than before for how to strengthen that particular weakness?