Testimonials

The Musicianship & Aural Training Series, Practice Exams and Decoding Sound

Just a quick note to say congratulations on the new Level 3 textbooks. I think are simply fantastic. The interactive PDF is a godsend! No more messing around with CD players and less finding additional resources to support students. I can bring one device (my laptop) to class and everything is there. It also makes setting homework for students a lot easier. The online (linked in the PDFs of the teacher and Elite student books) resources are fantastic! When I add them to the resources I have already put together for the class, my aural and theory sections of Outcome 3 are pretty much set for the two years. In addition, the structure of the contents pages, along with all the curriculum documents on the website and the support from Deb, has made planning a breeze.
Richard Linton, Music Teacher, Penola Catholic College

The Musicianship and Aural Training series of textbooks and CDs are an invaluable asset to any secondary music teacher in any school, in any state of Australia. They are comprehensive and fun, well structured, easy to follow and simple to use even if you are not a Kodály specialist!
The texts and CDs cover every aspect of excellent music education, detailing curriculum content in a logical sequence, with relevant exercises, activities, songs, games, composition tasks and directed listening. Continuous assessment and evaluation in short well-conceived examples and revision sheets allow both teacher and student to map progress. Tests of a longer nature are also included to assist in the evaluation and reporting process.
For those on a limited budget, if you buy nothing else, these resources should be your ‘one stop shop’. Your students will enjoy their music classes, delight in both performing and creating music and learn to really hear the sound in the music symbol thanks to these wonderful resources created by a truly gifted music educator, Deborah Smith.
Berwyn Roberts, Music Educator 

I have used the full series of Musicianship and Aural Training for the Secondary School at four schools – Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar and Lauriston in Victoria and Meriden School and Wenona School in Sydney. The books were easily adaptable for the different curricula in NSW. These books provide a strong measure of continuity in students’ acquisition of both theoretical and aural skills through carefully graded activities. The books designed for Lower and Middle Secondary cover basic theoretical concepts through to dictations of chord progressions and simple modulations, and by the end of Year 10 I find that my students are fully prepared for senior music. The senior books are a stand-out success in my classroom as they don’t just merely test aural skills, they offer a sequence of graded teaching activities to develop the skills needed in rhythmic and melodic dictations, identification of triads, chords and scales, multi-part dictations and chord progressions.
Although the books are based on a system of aural training using moveable solfa and time names, I have been able to use them successfully in music departments which use alternative methods of sightsinging and rhythm reading. The students find them very useful because it fully explains each activity in clear language, and keeps all their dictations and theory exercises together in the one book.
I have been using these books in my classrooms since they were first published and they have been invaluable in solidifying particularly the aural and theory components of my curriculum, and in providing me with high quality exercises and activities to use in my lessons. I highly recommend them as a teacher-friendly tool which students also enjoy using.
Melinda Sawers, Head of Music, Melbourne Grammar School, Wadhurst Campus

As a teacher of VCE Music Performance (Group), I have found Deborah Smith’s Musicianship & Aural Training book for the subject to be an invaluable resource for teaching this part of the course. I found her workshop for teachers inspiring, and my students who have attended her student workshops have come back to class excited and eager to pass on what they have learnt from her.
Stephen Hardie, Assistant Director of Music, Blackburn High School

I have used Deborah Smith’s Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 1 and 2 books for many years, recently introducing the Level 1 books to my Year 6 Advanced Music students. I use Deb’s books in all my classes from Yr 6 – 12. I greatly value the fact that this is a scaffolded and sequential program that develops music literacy and aural skills that will take my students from absolute beginner skills to VCE Music readiness. It develops the necessary vocabulary and skill for all students to really succeed in whatever their chosen field of music study or enjoyment. The format of the books is clear and easy to follow.

All theses resources tie in perfectly to the Kodály Music Education Teacher Training Secondary Level 1 course I undertook in 2021. With Deb as the lecturer, this Kodály course was structured and easy to follow, breaking the content down into manageable sections. Undertaking the Kodály course seamlessly tied together the theoretical knowledge and familiarity I have with her published books to the skills necessary to use them to their full potential in my classroom. For the first time this year, I felt that my students got the full Kodály experience in my classroom, and that was thanks to the skills I honed, and the guidance I received, during the Kodály course with Deb.

I thoroughly recommend using Deb’s resources and undertaking any of her workshops/courses, for your own growth as a musician, and to get the very best from the Level 1 and 2 books that so many of us under-utilise in our classrooms. Everyone should be singing every day!
Kerry Trounson, Classroom Music Teacher, Southern Cross Grammar

I’ve had the pleasure of developing an ongoing relationship with DSMusic over many years now. I work as a senior music teacher at St Francis Xavier College, Beaconsfield and run the program for 10, 11 and 12 Music. The resources provided present a unique way to build musical literacy in my students and once I understood the underlying concepts, I discovered a methodology that has developed the foundations of my pedagogy.

The resources available through DSMusic are very comprehensive and, if used well, will equip a classroom teacher with the resources to develop curriculum, lessons and musical experiences that allow students to engage with the language of music in a meaningful manner. Deborah herself is a very generous educator and has consistently strived to ensure that my senior students have access to resources they need. I regularly take my VCE students to her workshops as they find her energy and passion infectious and her lectures help give a greater context to this distinct pedagogy.

For teachers who wish to teach music literacy, I can think of no greater pool of resources. The textbooks provide easy lessons that incorporate a clear progression of literacy with tips and resources to engage a wide variety of skills within the classroom. Songs, games and canons which not only allow to differentiate for a wide variety of students, they act as vehicles for teaching true and personal music literacy. Even in this regard, Deb is a generous mentor, very willing to share her years of experience.
Carlos Escobar, Senior Music Teacher, St. Francis Xavier College

We have been using Deb’s textbooks in our band and classroom music programs for some time now. They are the perfect companion for our music literacy/Kodály based program, with meaningful and interesting activities that complement each new skill taught.

During the numerous lockdowns, Deb’s interactive PDFs for Level One were a lifesaver for us. For our more advanced students, Deb’s comprehensive video library and online resources for use with the Level Three book and Decoding Sound, enabled me to provide my VCE students with meaningful and engaging practice activities that were ready made, which saved me so much time and energy. With a particularly diverse student cohort, who weren’t always able to engage with live Zoom class meetings, these resources have been an excellent companion to my lessons.

Deb’s resources really have been a lifesaver, particularly in these past couple of years and I know my team are very grateful for them.
Amy Young, Director of Music, St. Joseph’s College Geelong


Student Workshops

Brilliantly insightful and comprehensive. Engaging and fun. Well worth the money.
VCE Student

It was a useful workshop that’s given simple and well thought through strategies on how to tackle aural and theory questions.
VCE Student

I first of all want to thank you. The workshop, even though it was only two hours, was so much help to me. You made me look at the theory of music and the understanding of music in a different way. I couldn’t believe how structured “recognition of chord progressions” is! I also love your chord charts. I really do believe that they will help me tremendously. You truly are an inspiration!
MH, VCE Student, Monbulk College

I attended your workshop today and I would just like to say thank you. I got so much out of it and you definitely made some parts that I was having trouble with so simple to figure out and you clarified a lot of things for me. I am definitely attending future workshops and lectures; today’s was inspiring for me.
I was the only person from my class to attend and I find this sad because I know that everyone would have gotten a lot of today’s session.
CO, VCE Student, Nazareth College

Deborah Smith brings aural and theory to life during her workshops. My students arrived feeling very unsure of their direction and left with a musical roadmap leading to a successful end of year examination. Every aspiring young musician should attend one of her workshops as they can only benefit from the experience.
Rita Jenkins, VCE Music Teacher, Geelong Grammar School

Many thanks for your wonderful workshop yesterday. It’s a huge task working with so many students from such a diverse background, and yet you seemed to breeze through it with such ease. Speaking on behalf of my students, they thoroughly enjoyed the 7 hours, and although some of them are still struggling, the way you presented the content, they have the realisation that the Aural and Theory content is manageable, provided they work at it.
Craig Minty, Music Faculty Coordinator, Casey Senior Campus, Maranatha Christian School

Taking part in a workshop by Deb Smith is an incredible opportunity for music teachers, students and musicians. As Deb emphasises regularly and importantly; the language of music, our ability to consider and discuss and the ability to analyse; truly makes us better performers. Watching Deb conduct a workshop is a master class in sequencing and knowledge building that every person deserves to benefit from. Debs work supports us all to be more professional and capable. Make sure you attend the next workshop and furnish yourself with Debs rigorous materials.
Justin Ossher, VCE Music Teacher, Ave Maria College

The Focus on Analysis VCE Music Performance Workshop was an excellent primer in all things Music Analysis. Deb provided excellent, well-deconstructed examples with clear identification, description and depth to support students’ understanding of the content and process required. Our students walked away from this workshop with a renewed understanding of how to structure their ideas into clear, coherent responses supported with practical tips to present analysis using each individual’s own language skills. This gave students a greater sense of ownership and confidence, allowing them to develop their responses clearly and focus on elements asked by the question.

Deb was a knowledgeable, compassionate and engaging host, providing a fantastic opportunity for students to expand their knowledge and skills in this area. Her expertise is highly recommended!
Matthew Frampton, VCE Music Teacher and Acting Learning Leader of Performing Arts, Whitefriars College

I am incredibly grateful to have attended your workshop. I recommended the workshop to my VCE class – 3 of which travelled to attend. They loved it!

I haven’t taught VCE Music Performance for a number of years, so the reconnection with the appropriate language was excellent. Your systematic and logical breaking-down of terminology and reinforcement of keeping it simple really hit home. I really enjoyed your premise of giving an in-depth answer which stays firmly within the parameters of the question being asked (aka. Not waffling or going tangential).

I applaud your diverse repertoire of examples which really pushed home the point of each question. Add to all of this, your wry humour and gregarious personality shining through, what could have been an otherwise dry seminar, and I feel you achieved real and rich engagement with these young people, furthering their understanding and passion for our art-form.
Terry Carrick, Music Performance Coordinator, Sacred Heart College

Deborah Smith is an accomplished musical literacy teacher who practices what she preaches. The difficulty with our musical language is that it requires the eye and ear to work together – to hear what we see and to see what we hear. Deborah has a way of making the mundane fun and the intricate easy as you sing and listen and learn the balance between the ear and the eye. Many of my students have benefitted greatly from her well- planned and committed approach to the teaching and learning of music literacy. In line with Kodály’s three “Ps” Deborah is Practical, Pertinent and Punchy. “He who has ears to hear and eyes to see – let him sing”. 
Fiona Phillips, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University


Teacher Workshops

I found Deborah’s workshops to be extremely eye (ear)-opening and encouraging. Her philosophy of giving tools and ideas that could be put into place when we teach the next day was spot, as there were a number of ideas and songs that I shamelessly tried out on my unsuspecting students with immediate success and much excitement and enjoyment from the students. One thing that I found particularly helpful was the reference material that she provided for developing curriculum. The ways of progressively introducing songs, and building challenge through introducing new material before students have achieved mastery, has helped me build continued energy and expectation within my classes. Having a long list of songs, that are easily memorised, that are full of fun, and unconsciously achieve many goals of a music class has really revolutionised my teaching practice. An example is “Ford Car” the tongue-twister that I use for fun, and also to teach inner-hearing.  I now approach my planning from a whole new perspective, rather than talk about a concept, I now think “what can I sing first to help bring understanding to what I trying to teach.” I am so glad I attended this PD!!
Paul Ellis, Music Teacher – Middle/Senior School, Chairo Christian School

As part of my professional development, I have attended aural training classes with Deborah Smith along with other music teachers. I found her classes to be well-organised, extraordinarily challenging, a great deal of fun, and of great benefit to my own musicianship development. The aural “training” I received at University by comparison, was quite poor, and without any clear methodology. Basically we were tested weekly, and each week we would fail. By doing Deborah’s classes I found that I got a very clear handle on how to listen to music, and develop my own musical literacy much more efficiently. I can wholeheartedly recommend Deborah as a speaker, teacher, and aural skills trainer; and would be happy to attend her aural training classes in the future.
John Handley, Australian Catholic University

Just a small note to say a big thank you for all the sessions that you ran that I attended during the KMEIA conference. You are always an inspiration! It still seems like yesterday that I was doing teaching rounds at Scotch with you and I still always learn so much from your pedagogy.
Jenni Allen, Head of Junior School Music, Scotch College Junior School


Online Musicianship Courses

The Music Language Online Course – Musicianship (MLOCM) is like working closely with an experienced teacher all year, going through all the music aural and theory you need to know for the exam. You have the privilege of working at your own pace while also having someone other than your classroom teacher hold you accountable for your efforts and encourage you to improve. There are a great deal of videos, activities and resources to strengthen your weak areas and an immense amount of guidance and support is available throughout the year – these are all things, in my opinion, students at any level will greatly benefit from!

Personally, the MLOCM helped me so much last year, and I think it is an incredibly valuable tool for anyone studying VCE music. At first I was skeptical of all the singing involved in the course, but over time my aural skills and understanding of music theory improved without me even realising it! In addition to this, the course works so well alongside all the other material Deb has developed (including practice exams and the Level 3 book) – I cannot recommend this course enough.
SM, VCE Student, Warrnambool College

I was lucky enough to work with Deb in through her VMPC (now called Music Language Online Course – Musicianship) last year and I could not recommend it enough as it truly helped me improve my understanding in music.  I was able to work with Deb personally and complete a series of personalised tasks she set that would help to improve my aural and theory skills in preparation for the exam.  Upon completing each task, Deb would correct it and provide valuable feedback helping me to improve each week.  Through working with Deb directly, I was really able to remain motivated by her constant support and patience.
The course allowed me to receive one on one support which cannot be provided in a classroom with so many students and only one teacher.  It is clear that Deb truly has a passion for music and teaching and cares about her students, helping whenever she can.  I found the whole experience extremely valuable and I have improved significantly from this and hope that all VCE music students and teachers enroll into the MLOCM!
CZ, Ruyton Girls’ School, Kew

The VMPC (now called the Music Language Online Course Musicianship Module) aims to help you enhance your theory and aural skills at a rate that suits yourself; as many high school students have varied school timetables, it makes it hard to stick to a deadline. This is one reason why I found working through the course very helpful, and I was able to fit the course work/extra help in my busy schedule. 

It was always very easy to ask Deborah anything! Any questions I had on the work or tips, she would always answer. I honestly think doing the course significantly gave my study score a significant boost. Whether it be starting 2 months prior to the exam or at the beginning of the year, I think it would give you a large advantage over the majority of the cohort.
JZ, VCE Student, Scotch College, Hawthorn

Working with Deb directly gave me one-on-one help which was specific and catered to the areas I struggled with. Having a realistic deadline to work through exercises every week ensured there was enough time to get work in –this being especially important during busy times at school. Deb provided constructive feedback just days after submitting work which meant I could immediately begin targeting tricky areas in my work. This has been a very valuable course to me as it helped boost my confidence in theory and motivate me to work at difficult areas by setting achievable goals. 
JD, VCE Student, St. Catherine’s School, Toorak

The VMPC (now called Music Language Online Course – Musicianship) is a practically designed guided course for all VCE Music Performance students. Deb takes you step by step in fortnightly tasks which revises material from her workbooks and applying this learned knowledge in practical means. I was very fortunate to be able to work with Deb personally to improve my music Aural and Theory knowledge on a regular basis throughout the year.
 As someone with existing Aural and Theory knowledge, these classes were helpful in cementing areas of knowledge which I knew, and drilling down content which were VCE specific (such as modes, half diminished chords etc.). The tasks (through worksheets or videos) assigned each fortnight were tailored towards areas where we needed more work whilst completing the exam’s content within the three and a bit terms. 
The amount of effort Deb puts into ensuring you are your best for the exam is so significant – you couldn’t ask for more. To have someone coaching you on a regular basis ensures you won’t neglect your subject and you are constantly learning on top of any classroom work. No matter how knowledgeable you are at music,
Deb’s course is such a strategic and effective tool to learn or cement content and help you do your very best at VCE Music Performance. I highly recommend this course for all students and teachers who are willing to put in the continuous work to see their desired results!
JK, VCE Student, Nossal High School, Berwick

The VMPC (now called Music Language Online Course – Musicianship) is a course that takes you through everything you need to know for the exam in a steady, progressive pace. More importantly, it adds meaning to and consolidates what you learn in class and in the Aural and Theory book, providing you with lifelong knowledge and a deeper understanding of music. When working with Deb directly, the resources are catered specifically to your needs, something very valuable that is hard to receive in class. I personally have noticed so much improvement in the areas I used to consider my weaker areas – so much so that I am probably most confident in those! To me, doing the course and working with Deb was basically intense, private tuition!

I cannot recommend it enough! I have found the course to be so valuable and it has helped me more than I can say. Deb genuinely cares so much about your personal progress and improvement and invests so much time and effort to ensure you do well. She gave me numerous different methods of practicing concepts until I found the one that I understood and that worked with me. No matter what stage you’re at (or think you’re at) there is always something you can learn or improve on through working with her and participating in the course.
MC, VCE Student, PLC, Burwood

As a singer coming late into the high school music scene, I was only familiar with music theory at a very basic level. My knowledge was based mostly on random patterns and acronyms, which whilst were effective when rote learnt, did not aid me in truly understanding the structure of music.

Working directly with Deb through the VMPC program (now called Music Language Online Course – Musicianship Module) kept me motivated and on track throughout the year; something that a lot of students struggle with. Being in this group meant that I had to complete and submit a series of tasks every week or two, whether that be in the form of worksheets or videos. Deb always gave me honest and constructive feedback on my work, and gave me specific ways to combat my problem areas. Having the clearly structured program and deadlines to meet gave me the incentive to continuously chip away at the tasks, as they are designed to be completed in as little as 15 minutes.
Honestly, I couldn’t recommend the course more. It’s great for individual students who want to take control of their own learning and stick to their study plans, or even for whole classes and teachers who want to follow along. I strongly encourage all VCE Music students and teachers to follow through with the course. You will see vast improvements yourself, and if you’re anything like me, music will finally make sense.
Do it!! It’s not every day that you can work directly with the author of your textbook!
AU, VCE Student, Assumption College, Kilmore

Hi Deb, I just wanted to say thanks so much for making the Music Language Online Course – Musicianship Module. The way it is designed, with the knowledge like building blocks on top of each other, really simplifies the learning and makes it seem achievable – instead of overwhelming! I just wanted to email because I really appreciate your emails and the videos and everything else you’ve done with the course! It’s easy to rely on and I know that if all my other subjects were done the way you have set out this music course, everything would be a lot simpler and less stressful, so thank you! 
TC, VCE Student, St Michael’s Grammar School, St Kilda

I actually feel as if I’ve improved massively. Especially in the intervals as well as my singing- I know it’s not really core to the course as I’m doing guitar but still I feel like I’m improving. Also I’ve found being more able to sing the theory elements is surprisingly helpful for recognising them. I was a little skeptical about how much benefit this course would do me at first but I’m well and truly feeling the benefits now, thanks so much. Also with intervals it has been really helpful as with improvising on guitar, one good technique is to come up with a little riff on the spot, recognise the intervals and thus be able to play it- this has really helped with that. Overall feeling really good now, bring on the next week. Thanks heaps!
CB, VCE Student, Chairo Christian School, Pakenham

I have seen the benefits of tonic solfa and rhythm names seeping through my ears because I have been able transcribe rhythms and melodies that I used to think was utterly impossible. Now, my singing performance has reaped the positive outcomes of this online course since I am now able to pitch not only through the note but through the visualisation of the hand-signs of solfege.
KT, VCE Student

Using the moveable do system for chords is new to me and I am in the process of learning which chords start on which solfa name. So far, I am finding it really great for chord writing and identifying. It is such a consistent and reliable system, finding do and then building the chord from that key signature. For example, in any key signature, starting on ti will build a diminished triad. I know you already know this as you are the one teaching it, but I wanted to tell you that it is really smart and effective, as it applies to scales too and chord progressions and, well, everything theory based.
I’m feeling so confident for the end of year exam! This really is the ideal preparation! I am so glad also that I’m doing 3&4 music in year 11 because I can really concentrate on it!
Thank you so much, oh and the videos are really good to use and having a specific one for a specific task is so accessible and clear!
AE, VCE Student, Braemar College


General

If you feel that do re mi is only for Junior Music Education, you’re missing out and so are your students. The best test of musical understanding and literacy is sight singing. How comfortable are you and your students with sight singing?  If you want to improve your aural skills in a non-threatening, positive, empowering and really enjoyable way, enrol in Deborah Smith’s workshops and immerse yourself in these fantastic musical experiences.  I guarantee, no matter how advanced your current skills, you will emerge a better, more confident musician and, with the further aid of Deborah’s superb textbooks and CDs, a much better music teacher!
Jennifer Mackenzie, Music Educator 

If you miss out on Deb’s workshops you’ll deprive yourself and your students of a rare and wonderful opportunity to discover much about the teaching of aural and theory. Deborah Smith has my profound respect.
Richard Gill OAM, noted Conductor and Music Educator

Thanks so much for your fantastic work in constantly producing such wonderful books and CDs for us all. It is very much appreciated.
Lynley Bramble, Classroom Music Teacher, Huntingtower

As a teacher of VCE Music Performance (Group), I have found Deborah Smith’s Musicianship & Aural Training book for the subject to be an invaluable resource for teaching this part of the course. I found her workshop for teachers inspiring, and my students who have attended her student workshops have come back to class excited and eager to pass on what they have learnt from her.
Stephen Hardie, Assistant Director of Music, Blackburn High School

I have attended several of Deborah Smith’s workshops over the past few years.  I have always found her sessions to be informative, fun, and of inestimable value to my own teaching.  Deb’s workshops always leave me with new ideas about how to do things better in the Music classroom.
Aaron Searle, Director of Music, Eltham College