Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Musical skill reflects working memory capacity in addition to practice time

Date:
July 8, 2010
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Practice will help you play piano better -- but it's not going to turn you into Liberace. A new study looks at the role that working memory capacity plays in piano players' ability to sight read a new piece of music, an important and complex skill for musicians.

Practice will help you play piano better – but it's not going to turn you into Liberace. A new study looks at the role that working memory capacity plays in piano players' ability to sight read a new piece of music, an important and complex skill for musicians.
Credit: iStockphoto

Practice will help you play piano better – but it's not going to turn you into Liberace. A new study looks at the role that working memory capacity plays in piano players' ability to sight read a new piece of music, an important and complex skill for musicians.

Related Articles


Scientists have debated the role of practice in developing expertise for over a century. Genius used to be thought of as coming from inherited ability. Now many researchers think practice is the key. In 2007, researchers proposed that it takes a decade of intense practice to become an expert. Elizabeth J. Meinz of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and David Z. Hambrick of Michigan State University wanted to look at working memory capacity, the ability to keep relevant pieces of information active in your mind. Pianists use working memory when they read music. They aren't reading the notes their fingers are currently playing; they're looking ahead to read the notes that are coming next. All musicians do this, but Meinz and Hambrick study pianists partly because they're convenient; they're easy to find and have a wide variety of levels of skill and experience.

For the new study, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, pianists were asked to sight read six pieces from a book of sight-reading tests. The book was chosen because it's rarely used in the United States. Musicians have to do this kind of test routinely in auditions. They were given pieces with various levels of difficulty. Judges graded each pianist based on technical proficiency, musicality, and overall performance. The pianists were also asked about their piano-playing history, including how many hours per week they had practiced in each year they'd been playing, and took tasks that measured their working memory capacity.

Practice was definitely important. The amount of time a person had spent practicing explained about 45 percent of the variance in sight-reading skill. But working memory capacity was important, too; when the researchers took out the effect of practice, another seven percent of variance in sight-reading skill was explained by working memory capacity. "Practice is absolutely important to performance," says Meinz. "But our study does suggest that cognitive abilities, particularly working memory capacity, might limit the ultimate level of performance that could be attained."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elizabeth J. Meinz and David Z. Hambrick. Deliberate Practice Is Necessary but Not Sufficient to Explain Individual Differences in Piano Sight-Reading Skill: The Role of Working Memory Capacity. Psychological Science, (in press)

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Musical skill reflects working memory capacity in addition to practice time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100708111324.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2010, July 8). Musical skill reflects working memory capacity in addition to practice time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100708111324.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Musical skill reflects working memory capacity in addition to practice time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100708111324.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins