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.

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 April 23, 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 April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
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:
from the past week

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