The effects of organized and unorganized pitch structure on a computer-assisted music reading task of young children

Kuribayashi, Fumio, Ph.D., University of Kansas, 1993


The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of pitch sequencing on the response durations among young children of different ages on the computer-based music reading task, FlashTest. One hundred and twenty elementary school students were assigned to one of three groups according to their age levels and were asked to play the FlashTest after they learned to read the notes in one octave of the C major scale. The study investigated the speed at which a child could recognize a music note, find the note name on a screen and click the corresponding button on the screen to identify the note. This response duration was measured when music notes were presented randomly and when they were presented in a scaled sequence. All subjects' errors for random and scaled patterns were also recorded and analyzed.

The results indicated that age had a significant influence on subjects' performances. The subjects from the third, and oldest, group (x = 11 years, N = 40) identified music notes the most quickly and accurately with the fewest errors. Their response durations were significantly shorter with the scaled patterns than with the random patterns. Subjects from the second group (x = 9 years, N = 40) took significantly more time to perform in both the random and the scaled patterns than the older subjects and significantly less time than group one, the youngest subjects in this study (x = 7 years, N = 40). Both the youngest subjects from group one and the midaged subjects from group two showed no statistically significant difference in response durations for the random and scaled patterns. An error analysis indicated group two subjects had difficulties reading the higher notes, especially "a" and "c$\sb5$", in the C major scale. The youngest subjects in group one performed poorly compared to subjects in the other two age groups. These group one subjects had particular difficulties identifying the middle to higher notes in the C major scale.