The Effect of Selective Attention on Error-Detection Abilities
Larkin, Jeffrey Clayton
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This study evaluated the error-detection abilities of choral conductors while attending to variable quantities of simultaneously played vocal lines. The participants (n = 55) were provided 16 8-measure musical excerpts and were instructed to detect rhythmic and melodic performance errors as performed within the audio excerpts. For each excerpt, errors of pitch and rhythm were inserted systematically within one, two, three, or four of the vocal lines. During playback, all four vocal lines were present; however, participants were asked to attend only to the directed lines. It was hypothesized that a linear decrease in error-detection score would occur with the addition of two, three, and four attended vocal lines. Welch’s Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) test indicated statistical significance of error-detection variability with increasing quantities of attended vocal lines, Welch’s F(3, 118.812) = 46.876, p < .001. Results indicated a non-linear decrease in error-detection score with the incorporation of additional attended vocal lines [one, M = 9.27; two, M = 6.49; three, M = 6.15; four, M = 5.81, respectively). Participants demonstrated an inability to accurately detect performance errors immediately upon attending to a second vocal line. These findings serve as a platform for which aural training must be modified to accommodate the detection of performance errors. Suggestions for an error-detection curriculum are provided to offset these deficiencies. Further research may be necessary to better understand and categorize the cognitive process of auralization during error-detection.
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