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Steven M Demorest and Peter Q Pfordresher (2015)

Singing Accuracy Development from K-Adult: A Comparative Study

Music Perception, 32:293-302.

The development of singing accuracy, and the relative role of training versus maturation, is a central issue for both music educators and those within music cognition. Although various studies have focused on singing accuracy in different age groups, to date we know of no data sets that maintain the consistency in recruitment, methodology, and measurement that is necessary to make direct comparisons. We report analyses of three data sets that meet these criteria: two groups of children (kindergarten, middle school), and one group of adults (college aged). The data were collected at different times, but used a similar set of tasks and identical scoring procedures. Results indicate considerable improvement in accuracy from kindergarten to late elementary that dramatically reverses such that college students perform at the level of kindergartners. It appears singing accuracy may be related to variables involving singing experience rather than general development, and singing skill could decline over time if not maintained through engagement. A secondary purpose was to explore the efficacy of acoustic scoring for some singing tasks and how well it mimics human judgments of accuracy. The acoustic scoring procedure was highly correlated with expert judgment and could provide a standard approach to scoring that is largely automated. We discuss the potential benefits of a more unified approach to measuring singing accuracy and suggest future research that includes children, adolescents and adults in the sample.

development, tone deafness, vocalization, music training, singing