AIRS Annual Report Year 1 Sub-Theme 1.1: Production and Perception

Prepared by C.D. Tsang (April 1, 2009 – March 31, 2010).

Sub-Theme 1.1 Members

  • S. Dalla Bella
  • S. Falk
  • R. Friendly (PhD student)
  • C. Palmer
  • I. Peretz
  • L. Phillmore
  • C. Palmer
  • G. Schlaug
  • L. Stewart
  • L. Trainor (co-Team Leader)
  • C. Tsang (co-Team Leader)

Year 1 Milestones and Deliverables

A review of the singing development literature was conducted by R. Friendly (PhD student) and L. Trainor. This review was the basis for a conference presentation at the 1st Annual AIRS General Meeting in June 2009. A review paper is in preparation and we anticipate manuscript submission in late summer 2010.

1.1. Research by Members

L. Stewart Student project: ‘A rehabilitation study of congenital amusia’ carried out by Susan Anderson, an MSc student on the Goldsmiths MSc in Music, Mind and Brain. This project will be written up and presented at a future AIRS meetings.

L. Stewart Student project: ‘A study of pitch direction processing in children’ carried out by Amy Fancourt, an MSc student on the Birkbeck MSc in Neuroscience. A poster will be presented at the AIRS meeting in Seattle, as well as at ICMPC.

Susan Anderson’s rehabilitation project may be extended but this will depend on obtaining funding.

Sub-Theme 1.1. Year 1 Research Summary

This first year has been a transition year in many ways for subtheme 1.1. A change in the leadership of the theme occurred in December 2009, with S. Brown leaving the project and C. Tsang joining L. Trainor as Theme Leader. This necessitated some change in the research direction of 1.1, and the newly developed research project focuses on the link between the development of the perception of singing and the production of singing. Much of the work from January to March 2010 was devoted to developing a coherent and viable research project that will yield significant and publishable data.

Pilot stimuli for our study examining the perception and production of singing in young children have been created. We are currently in the process of finalizing the testing protocols and preparing to begin pilot testing in a small population of 6-year-old children. L. Trainor has met with a local music education group working in a Hamilton area grade school and the principal of the school to arrange for testing of Grade 1 students in a singing perception and production test battery. A further meeting with the teachers of the students will be held in September 2010.

We anticipate the start of pilot testing to begin in August through September, 2010, with the beginning of actual data collection to begin in October, 2010 in a group of Grade 1 children in a Hamilton area grade school. Another parallel study with JK/SK children in a local London area pre-school may also begin in the fall subject to institutional approvals.

This research project has the possibility of becoming a longitudinal study (pending renewal by the school and teachers involved). Thus, the creation of a viable set of testing materials in Year 1 was a vitally important first step. If the study proceeds as planned, we should be able to have data ready for dissemination by summer 2011 (Year 3), most likely in the form of conference presentations initially, eventually leading to published manuscripts in future years.

We acknowledge that we have not been overly successful in involving many members of the research sub-theme in our research discussions. However, we hope that with the establishment of a viable set of stimuli and testing protocols in this first year, this will make it easier for other theme members (and other AIRS themes) to participate and/or contribute to the research in future years.


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