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Music rehearsal increases perceptual span for music


Burman DDDouglas , Booth JRJames . Music Perception. 2009 ; 26(4). 303-320


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.