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Publication Detail
Improvability of poor pitch singing experiments in feedback
ABSTRACT The literature on children's singing reveals that, for each age group, there are some children who cannot sing 'in-tune'. These children are labelled 'poor pitch singers' (p.p.s). The literature suggests that singing 'in-tune' is not simply a question of 'can' or 'cannot', but rather a hierarchy of skill with several levels of competence. In general the numbers of pop.s. within sample populations declines with age, with boys outnumbering girls by 2 or 3:1. The traditional method of treating this disability, although implying that improvement is possible, has only shown limited success. Reference to the psychological Ii terature on feedback, ho,,,ever, suggests that, (1) learning can only take place ,yhen Knowledge of Results (KR) is present, and (2) variety of experience rather than repeated measures of the same kind may be more conducive to producing 'novel' patterns of behaviour. Applying these findings to the mechanism of singing, a schema theory of how children learn to sing in-tune is proposed, and its hypotheses subjected to empirical evaluation. A group of sixty-six p.p.s., aged seven years, were divided randomly between six treatment groups, two of 'l7hich were controls. Visual feedback and KR were provided by the use of an electrolaryngograph coupled to an oscilloscope 0 Both these variables were manipulated against high and low variability of practice. Results indicate that Knowledge of Results (KR) may be crucial for p.p. s. to become pitch accurate, especially where the KR is combined with a high variability of practice. 2 Acknowledgements My thanks to the Headteachers, staff and children of Beatrix Potter Primary School, Earlsfield Junior School, Smallwood Junior School, Southmead Junior School, and WandIe School, London, for their assistance and co-operation with the empirical work of this thesis. My thanks also to Mr. Richard Wright of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf for his assistance with the computation of pitch errors for each subject; to Dr. Frances MacCurtain and Mr. Nicholas Noscoe of the Middlesex Hospital, London, for their help and advice on the use of the electrolaryngograph; and to Dr. Andrew Keat of the Westminster Hospital for his comments on the physiology of the voice mechanism. Finally, I am indebted to Mrs. Ann Welch for her patient proof-reading; and to Dr. Desmond Sergeant of the Roehampton Institute, London, for his help and support over many years. Without his expertise and encouragement this thesis would have been much the poorer.
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