An investigation of key-tone matching with children and adults
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A musical task involving pitch discrimination was developed and taught to children and adults. The task was a single tone matching procedure employing three organ tones and keys in the "do, re, mi" configuration, in which individually presented ("heard") tones, served as stimuli controlling selection of keys for tone-matching responses. The design of the study included an exploratory phase, in which sequences of material were manipulated and behavioral (performance) characteristics investigated, and a control experiment, in which reinforcing stimuli (feedback contingencies) were manipulated. Data describing errors as a function of trials and other relationships between stimuli and response events were collected. These were plotted in the form of individual cumulative records and stimuli-response tracking charts, respectively. Pre-adult subjects ranging in age from four to eleven years were recruited from an academic and professional population attending a private school. Adult subjects (ranging in age from 24 to 78 years) were selected on the basis of their claims to (a) not being "musical, " (b) not being able to read music, (c) not having any recent or prolonged music study. All subjects worked at the keyboard of a specially adapted organ by which tones were presented, responses recorded, and feedback provided. The study was primarily concerned with the following questions: 1. Would this key-tone matching task be "easy" or "difficult"? 2. Could performance be improved by employing the objective procedures described? 3. What behavioral characteristics could be revealed by the use of such procedures? Data from the exploratory phase (conducted with youth subjects) indicated that matching "do, re, mi" keys to their associated tones in single tone matching trials was not as "easy" a task as one might have expected. Analyses of stimuli-response tracking charts indicated that the major "pre-solution" behavior patterns were affected by the programmed sequences of material, and by the one, two, three, order inherent in the stimuli themselves. These data also provided evidence of the systematic nature of such performance, and that the relationships between sequence of material and patterns of responding can be subjected to experimental control. In the control experiment (conducted with youth and adult subjects) three different reinforcement procedures (feedback contingencies) were tested on a sequence of material developed in the exploratory phase. Procedure l provided production of the trial tone plus a red light signal for a correct response, and silence (no consequence) for an incorrect response. Procedure 2 was the same as procedure l, with exception that the red light signal was withheld. In procedure 3, correct and incorrect responses produced the associated tones of the keys pressed. Control experiment data (cumulative error graphs) revealed improvement in 13 out of 14 youth subjects, and in 10 out of 15 adult subjects. The procedures in which subjects heard the correct tones and not the incorrect tones in training (l and 2) produced more learning than the procedure (3) in which subjects heard the correct as well as the incorrect tones. Also, more learning was achieved under procedure l, which provided the red light consequence in addition to the tone for correct responding, than under procedure 2, which provided the tone only (no light). A behavioral model of key-tone matching was suggested as the framework for further research. The implications of the study were seen to extend beyond musical learning theory, to auditory learning theory in general. The relevance of the findings to education in general and to adult education in particular was indicated.
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