Singer-Songwriter Survey

Are you a passionate singer-songwriter who feels called to this career? This 15-minute anonymous online survey will pose open and closed questions about your early influences, musical memories, education, geographic location and your music career to date. It is ethically approved and upon completion you will have the option to be entered into a draw for a $50 gift card to Long & McQuade. One gift card will be drawn for every 25 participants entered.    LINK


AIRS Recent Publications

  • A special issue of Musicae Scientiae, September, 2015 19 (3) features the AIRS Test Battery of Singing Skills.  Guest edited by Helga Gudmundsdottir and Annabel J. Cohen, the issue contains studies representing participants from Brazil, Canada, China, Estonia, and the USA.  Across the various studies the issue reports on different age groups (from pre-school to senior years) and on six of the musical components of the Test Battery.  For the table of contents and abstracts, click here

  • June Countryman has published the following article which reports on the exploration of how children's natural singing in play is on a speech-singing continuum.

    Start-up games on school playgrounds: instances of ceremonial rituals, Countryman, J. (2015), *Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education; Fall, 2014, 202,*7-27.

This study emerged from naturalistic observations of children's self-initiated musical play on the playgrounds of 14 Canadian schools, part of a three-year project anchored by the broad research question: What is the nature of children's spontaneous musical expressions during selfdirected play? Seven of the dozens of play start-up procedures documented during these observations are analyzed, using ritual theories from a variety of scholarly orientations to establish that these start-up games are genuine ritual acts. While some theorists identify ritual in every aspect of quotidian life, the author proposes that children's start-up procedures are ceremonial rituals, examples of what Dissanayake termed as artifying. They are characterized by an extended and reverent focus on the performance of a series of formalized rhythmic, kinesthetic actions, sustained by a shared belief that the process is meaningful. Some of the possible benefits that these startup rituals provide are considered, recognizing that, as with all play scenarios, there are issues of inclusion and exclusion. The author suggests that respectful examinations of children's musical play culture contribute to the project of revisioning music education practice by offering insights into the richness and sophistication of children's musicking proclivities and abilities. The author proposes specific pedagogical applications.  LINK 

  • AIRS co-investigator Lauren Stewart has co-authored an article in a Frontiers special issue dedicated to research at the intersection of music neuroscience and music therapy. The article presents a rationale for using family-centred music therapy (singing; vocalizing) with medically fragile newborns.

    Constructing optimal experience for the hospitalized newborn through neuro-based music therapy, Helen Shoemark, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Australia, Deanna Hanson-Abromeit, University of Kansa, Lauren Stewart, Goldsmiths, University of London, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00487

    Music-based intervention for hospitalized newborn infants has traditionally been based in a biomedical model, with physiological stability as the prime objective. More recent applications are grounded in other theories, including attachment, trauma and neurological models in which infant, parent and the dyadic interaction may be viewed as a dynamic system bound by the common context of the NICU. The immature state of the preterm infant’s neurological system and particularly auditory system means that no assumptions can be made about auditory processing and stimulation should proceed with caution. The infant’s experience of an unpredictable auditory environment is further compromised by a potential lack of meaningful auditory stimulation. Parents often feel disconnected from their own capacities to nurture their infant. The implications for the infant’s neurobehavioral and psychological well-being are life-long. This perspectives paper will outline the likely neurological considerations for auditory processing in the premature infant as well as establishing a premise for music-based interventions. A hypothetical clinical case will illustrate the application of music by a music therapist with an infant and family in NICU.  LINK


AIRS 6th Annual Meeting, held in Nashville Tennesee July 30 - August 1, was a resonding sucess. See the full program and proceedings here. Following the Annual Meeting, AIRS members made the following presentations at SMPC 2015, also in Nashville:

  • The Influence of music training on vocal melodic completions, Bing-Yi Pan, Annabel J. Cohen, UPEI, Charlottetown

    The top-down system of the implication realization (IR) theory (Narmour, 1990; 2014) suggests that music experience influences melody expectancy. Listener rating studies have provided evidence for this (Krumhansl et al., 1999; Krumhansl et al., 2000; Vos & Pasveer, 2002). However, few have tested the theory by studying spontaneous melody production. The present study used data acquired through the AIRS Test Battery of Singing Skills (Cohen et al., 2009; Pan et al., 2012) to explore how western music training affects improvisational singing following a prior melodic context. Young adults (20 musicians; 20 nonmusicians) were presented with an 8-note melody and were asked to first repeat it and then continue singing and finish it. 34 participants (19 musicians) completed the task. The singing recordings were notated by two musicians together (including the first author). To start the improvisation, musicians tended to choose the dominant (G, 42.1%) and subdominant (E, 21.1%), while non-musicians tent to begin with tonic (C, 33.3%) and subdominant (E, 26.7%). All of the musicians (100%) ended the song at tonic (C), while less than half of non-musicians (46.7%) did so.  Furthermore, the range of the composition covered by musicians (M = 8.11 semitones, SD = 2.49) was significantly larger than the range of non-musicians (M = 5.33 semitones, SD = 2.69), F (1, 32) = 9.67, p < .005. The number of diatonic scale notes used by musician (M = 4.73, SD =1.04) exceeded that used by non-musicians (M = 3.53, SD =1.25), F (1, 32) = 9.38, p = .004. The study provides direct evidence that: (a) music training shapes melodic expectancy when improvising; (b) music training expands materials one can comfortably use in on-the-spot melody creation. The role of music training – whether cognitive and/or vocal motor flexibility and vocal range – remains to be investigated. 

  • Is playing a musical instrument better for you than singing? A review, Annabel J. Cohen, UPEI, Charlottetown

    Singing accurately, musically, and emotionally requires sensory, cognitive, motor and affective control. Yet the mental processes underlying performing on a musical instrument (rather than the human voice) more often attract the attention in both psychological work and the popular press. Does practice on the “flashy” instrument create that much more of a sensorycognitive-emotional workout than does practice on the hidden musical instrument of the human voice? Is  ractice and performance on a musical instrument qualitatively better for you than practice and performance in singing? Are choristers necessarily less happy than instrumentalists? The present paper directs attention to the following: (1) articles in the press that extol the benefits of music, referring only to examples of playing a musical instrument; could their statements apply equally to serious vocal music study? (2) programs such as El Sistema provide music training primarily on musical instruments; could these programs work equally well if focused on the human voice? (3) obviously for the same cost more students can be engaged in music through singing than through playing a musical instrument (4) comparisons of test performance of singers vs instrumentalists are rare in the music-psychological or cognitive literature and warrant more studies to address the gap in knowledge about the relative benefits of singing. If it is shown that the so-called benefits of instrumental music training are equal to the benefits of voice training, then public efforts to provide musical training should consider the relative cost of instrumental teachers and musical instruments versus the cost of choral leaders and no instruments. In a world where resources are insufficient to provide music training for everyone, decisions to fund instrumental as opposed to choral programs deserve social scientific justification. The relevant literature will be reviewed. (supported by SSHRC AIRS).

  • Singing and multi-cultural group cohesion, Arla Good, Frank Russo,  Ryerson University, Toronto


  • AIRS 6th Annual Meeting.  The AIRS 6th Annual Meeting (2015) will  take place in Nashville, Tennessee  (Music City, USA ) July 31 - August 1(noon).  A student/early career professional pizza dinner, round-table, including "on-the-town" experience will take place at 5:30 pm July 30 (contact Arla Good  The Policy and Planning Committee meeting will also take place the evening of July 30.  The AIRS Annual meeting takes place prior to the opening of the biennial meeting of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SMPC), 1:00 pm August 1st, co-convened by Reyna Gordon and Elisabeth Dykens. Note: Registration in the AIRS meeting is open to all those seriously interested in research in all aspects of singing. For further information contact Ross Dwyer (,  902-566-6023).

The following will be presented during the 1.5 days of the AIRS 6th Annual Meeting:

Oral presentations

Test-retest reliability and repeated  attempts in singing accuracy measurement. Bryan E. Nichols and Sijia Wang (University of Akron, Ohio, USA) Theme 1

Natural singing practices surrounding babies in their daily lives. Alisa Chitwood & Beatriz Ilari (University of Southern California) Theme: 2.1 and 1

Childhood songs: Views and values in the Vietnamese American home. Tina Huynh and Beatriz Ilari (University of Southern California). Theme: 2.1 and 1  and 3.1

The impact of singing on language development in 4-year old children. Caitlin Bridson-Pateman, Petra Hauf, Annie Larouche, and Helene Deacon  (St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia Canada, and Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia Theme 2.3

Singing-Voice and the acquisition of phonetics in the learning of French as a foreign language. Sandra Cornaz (Lansad, Univ. Grenoble Alpes  (Grenoble, France); Diane Caussade (Univ Grenoble Alpes, GIPSA-Lab, Grenoble, France). Theme 2.3

Antecedents to the career of singer-songwriter: Preliminary on-line survey results.  Christopher Robison & Annabel Cohen (University of Prince Edward Island). Theme 3.3  (2.1)

Alzheimer’s hand gestures and speech disorders in spoken and sung modalities. Diane Caussade I(GIPSA-lab, CNRS & LIDILEM ); Fanny Gaubert (Centre de formation en orthophonie, ISTR, Univ claude Bernard, Lyon, France); Maud Seriux (Centre de formation en orthophonie, ISTR, Univ claude Bernard, Lyon, France; Nathalie Henrich-Bernardoni (CNRS, Grenoble, France); Nathalie Vallee (CNRS, Grenoble, France). Theme 3.3 and 1.2




AIRS staff are working towards providing the results of Project research, so that information and research findings can be shared amongst the researchers and interested individuals.  Please direct any questions or comments regarding the AIRS Web site to the AIRS Information Technology Coordinator. Contact information can be found on our Contact AIRS page.