Creative Musicianship is Anne-Marie Hildebrandt's signature blend of aural skills and theory, continually applied to creative performance through improvisation, playing by ear, and analysis. Developed over 20 years of teaching, learning, and researching, this unique approach draws from a variety of traditions and allows students to hone their music theory and aural skills while making music creatively.

Hover over the terms or scroll down below to find out more about some of the different facets of creative musicianship.

Aural Skills

Some people use the term "aural skills" synonymously with "ear training." Others define "aural skills" as a course combining "ear training" with "sight singing." Ear Training is a class you'll find at music schools which is designed to help students identify the rhythms, notes, chords, and intervals of music when they're heard.


The term harmonization is commonly used to refer to the skill of accompanying a melody without full notation, often on a keyboard. There could be "symbols" of some sort, such as chord symbols or figured bass, or you might need to figure out what the chords are by ear. I also use the term to apply to vocalists and instrumentalists harmonizing with a melody by ear.


Put simply, improvisation is when you make up music and play it on an instrument without writing it down first.


Intonation is, simply put, singing or playing in tune. Improving skills in intonation involves training ourselves to listen to ourselves, compare the pitch we're producing with something else (either a memory we have, or someone else playing or singing), and learning what we need to do physically in order to adjust our pitch.


This term refers to "keyboard skills," which are the basic skills used for functioning with a piano keyboard. Since it's a representation of the diatonic scale, understanding the piano keyboard can help all music makers in Western traditions develop their ears, minds, and creativity.


Pianists and other soloists sometimes have to memorize long pieces of music in the classical tradition, but ear players, improvisers, and music-readers also need important skills for remembering music. Aural skills and theory can really help.

Music Theory

Music theory is a way of noticing, understanding, and describing of the way music is built.

Imagine if you had to build a house, but all you could see as an example was what's visible. You'd have to build the house without being able to see the stud beams, the way the foundation was dug or the cement was poured, the plumbing, the electrical wires, etc. You might be able to create something that looked like your house, but… you get the picture! It's hard to create or re-create something without understanding how it is built, and this understanding is what music theory is about.

Playing by Ear

"Playing by ear" is when you can play something on an instrument by knowing what it sounds like in your head.


Sight singing and sight reading are activities in which a person could pick up a piece of unfamiliar sheet music and perform it, the way you might be able to pick up a book you've never read before and read it aloud. However, since singing is not such a mechanical process as playing an instrument, sight singing requires most people to know what the music sounds like before they utter a sound, even if only a fraction of a second before they sing...


Transcribing is when you write down music you hear.


More challenging on some musical instruments than on others, transposing is being able to play the same music in different keys.


Vocalization is singing! Everyone should be able to do it, and just about everyone can.

Watch the video below to find out more about Creative Musicianship and what it can do for you.