Relationships among auditory representations and overall musicianship of classical and non-classical music students
Yankeelov, Marjorie Landgrave
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The focus of this study is on the relationships among three basic auditory representations as well as their interaction with a measure of overall musicianship (sight-singing) among a group of classical and non-classical university music students (N = 112) selected from three different universities. Students were enrolled in level one of an aural skills course at the time. Basic auditory representations included were tonic centrality, measured by Colwell’s (1968) Feeling for Tonal Center, tonal grouping, measured by Colwell’s (1968) Auditory-Visual Discrimination, and harmonic function grouping, measured by a revised version of Holahan, Saunders and Goldberg’s (2000) assessment. I evaluated relationships by correlating scores on each measure and also compared these relationships among classical and non-classical music students. The participants in this study were the most skilled at forming auditory representations of tonic centrality and non-classical musicians significantly (p = .002) outperformed classical musicians in this area. Tonic centrality was also most strongly correlated with overall musicianship (τ = .45, p < .001) within the sample, and this relationship appeared to be stronger among non-classical musicians (τ = .52, p < .001) than among classical musicians (τ = .39, p < .001). This difference may be accounted for by the increased reliance on grounding in a tonal center required by the musical activities of a typical non-classical music student. Given the changing balance of musical endeavors present in tertiary music schools today (Lehmann, Sloboda, & Woody, 2007), educators are encouraged to better understand the particular strengths non-classical musicians may bring to the classroom in terms of ear-based musical abilities. Likewise, music educators on each level are encouraged to incorporate ear-based activities such as improvisation and playing by ear to the benefit of musicians of all genres.
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