Date of Award
Honors Bachelor of Arts
Juan Guevara Pinto
Expertise, such as music expertise, is commonly studied through an analysis of eye-movements. Experts typically have fewer fixations, longer saccade amplitudes, and thus greater perceptual spans when reading music than non-experts. Most musical expertise literature is focused on instrumentalists and sight-reading. The current study aimed to extend the research to include vocalists and to see if there are still expertise effects when both experts and non-experts are familiar with the piece of music. Participants were recruited to sing a piece from their choir once when they had first started learning the piece and again right before their concert. They were separated into three expertise groups based on their responses to the Vocal Experience Questionnaire. There was a significant interaction between test type (pre-test/post-test) and experience level Low/Medium/High) on fixations. The Low Level group had a marginally significant decrease in fixations between sessions. There were no other significant main effects or interactions. These results are contrary to the literature, and thus there are some methodological adjustments that could be made in the future to get more representative results, including using a different piece of music, adjusting the Vocal Experience Questionnaire questions, and increasing the participant size. Through the marginally significant decrease in fixations for the low experience group, one can conclude that practice helps close the gap between non-experts and experts. Ways this research could be expanded include focusing on the “mastery” versus “expertise” hypothesis, conducting a psychophysics experiment instead of a cognitive one, and including eye-voice span in the analysis.
Kelly, Charlotte, "Eye-movements of Vocal Performers Across Experience Levels" (2022). Honors Program Theses. 177.