Music rehearsal increases perceptual span for music
Despite evidence for improved visual processing of the printed score among skilled musicians, the effect of music rehearsal on the effective visual field (“perceptual span”) for a musical score has never been directly examined. Following 1-20 rehearsals, 11 skilled and 10 less skilled adult musicians reported whether a variant note appeared within a melodic sequence of 3-18 notes, presented onscreen for 200 ms in a tachistoscopic task designed to evaluate the perceptual span. Initially, skilled musicians showed a slightly larger perceptual span for challenging passages (5 notes vs. 4 notes for less skilled musicians). Perceptual spans increased incrementally in both groups, but skill differences in span size disappeared by 20 rehearsals (span of 11 notes). A correlation between improvements in visual perceptual span and performance speed suggests that perceptual learning could underlie early improvements in performance during music rehearsals.