Music_Ed._Research

Music_Ed._Research - Music Education Research Vol. 8, No....

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Towards a dynamic model of skills involved in sight reading music Reinhard Kopiez* and Ji In Lee Hanover University of Music and Drama, Germany This study investigates the relationship between selected predictors of achievement in playing unrehearsed music (sight reading) and the changing complexity of sight reading tasks. The question under investigation is, how different variables gain or lose significance as sight reading stimuli become more difficult. Fifty-two piano major graduates and undergraduates took part in an experiment which consisted of five different levels of sight reading complexity. Predictor variables were divided into three categories: (i) general cognitive skills (e.g. working memory capacity); (ii) elementary cognitive skills (e.g. reaction time); and (iii) expertise-related skills (e.g. accumulated sight reading or inner hearing). Regression analyses indicate that when sight reading stimuli is easy, general pianistic expertise is sufficient to be able to excel. However, with increasing task difficulty, psychomotor speed (as indicated by trilling speed), speed of information processing, inner hearing and sight reading expertise become more important. When sight reading complexity reaches its highest level, sight reading expertise still remains important, but psychomotor speed becomes the dominant predictor. Results indicate (i) that psychomotor speed and speed of information processing have a ‘bottleneck’ function and (ii) that there is a critical time window up to the age of 15 when sight reading expertise has to be acquired. It is concluded that with increasing task demands, sight reading ability is determined by both practice dependent skills and skills which are also assumed to be limited by innate abilities such as psychomotor movement speed. Thus we explain sight reading achievement as the result of specific combinations of different categories of skills which change with the demands of a task. Introduction The unrehearsed performance of music, so-called sight reading (SR), is a skill required by all musicians. It is characterized by great demands on the performer’s capacity to process highly complex visual input (the score) under the constraints of real-time and without the opportunity of error correction. It is not only of particular interest for musical occupations such as piano accompanists, conductors or co-repetiteurs, but is also one of the five basic performance skills every musician should acquire (McPherson, 1995; McPherson et al ., 1997; McPherson & Gabrielsson, 2002). McPherson used path analysis to explore connections between them and a variety of other factors, such as early exposure, quality of study and *Corresponding author. Hanover University of Music and Drama, Institute for Research in Music Education, Emmichplatz 1, 30175 Hanover, Germany. Email: kopiez@hmt-hannover.de ISSN 1461-3808 (print)/ISSN 1469-9893 (online)/06/010097-24 # 2006 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/14613800600570785 Music Education Research Vol. 8, No. 1, March 2006, pp. 97 ± / 120
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enriching activities etc. He defines these skills as follows: to perform a repertoire of
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Music_Ed._Research - Music Education Research Vol. 8, No....

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