The effect of auditory discrimination on the learning of music concepts.
This study investigates the effect of training in auditory discrimination on the learning of music concepts. The study draws on Klausmeier's theory concerning the role of discrimination in concept learning, and on Gibson's theory concerning the process of discrimination. Six hypotheses are tested: two stating that a particular program of auditory discrimination training positively affects the performance of pitch and rhythm conceptual tasks, two stating that age positively relates to such performance, and two stating that if the effect of initial auditory discrimination ability is eliminated, there will be no significant difference between the achievements of 7 - 8 year-old and 8 - 9 year-old students performing the said tasks. These hypotheses are tested in an experiment where 232 students participated. All were given a specially constructed Auditory Recognition Test to assess initial auditory discrimination ability before instruction, and all received the ordinary music instruction at school. Students in the experimental group received additionally a short, self-administered training module on discriminating auditory attributes of pitch, register, duration and tempo. These were high-low, long-short, and fast-slow. Following instruction, the experimental and control groups were given a specially constructed Music Concepts Achievement Test to assess their performance. A 2 x 2 factorial design is used to relate discrimination training and age to the performance of conceptual tasks. Variance and covariance analyses are performed to test the hypotheses. Results demonstrate a significant positive effect of the auditory discrimination training on the performance of pitch and rhythm tasks (p < .001), and a significant positive relationship between age and the performance of these tasks (p < .001). However, upon eliminating the effect of initial discrimination ability, age is no longer significant (p = .54 in pitch, and p = .181 in rhythm). The study concludes that training in auditory discrimination facilitates the learning of music concepts and that improvement in auditory discrimination which is gained with age facilitates such learning. These conclusions indicate that auditory discrimination training could improve the learning of many music concepts, and thus become a strategy for the achievement of important objectives in music education.