University music students' use of cognitive strategies in transcribing figured bass dictation and the possible influence of memory span on their performance

Authors: Cruz de Menezes, Ruth
Advisor: Moreno Sala, Maria Teresa; Beckett, Christine
Abstract: Music aural skills, partly developed during ear training (ET) courses, are fundamental to musicians' training in order to develop inner audition (Rogers, 1984). Authors agree about the importance of a good ear development as the basis for all musical progress and activities, such as listening and performing (Elliot 1993; Hallam & Bautista, 2012; Karpinski, 2000; King & Brook, 2016; Lake, 1993; Langer; 1953; McPherson, Bailey & Sinclair, 1997; Rogers, 1984; Rogers 2013; Upitis, Abrami, Varela, 2016). Musical dictation transcription, being one of the most used ways to develop inner audition is a challenge to be faced by many students in difficulty (Cruz de Menezes, 2010; Hedges, 1999; Hoppe, 1991). Despite the importance of this task, the underlying processes are not yet fully understood, especially those related to figured bass dictation. This poses an abiding challenge for teachers. A better understanding of students' mental processes engaged during dictation tasks, and how students deploy such processes, could provide teachers with solutions. Results might suggest which pedagogical approaches to privilege, and which strategies might be effective to help students overcome their difficulties. To fill the gap in this field, this research was elaborated with six main objectives: a) list and count the strategies used by students at the beginning of their university education; b) categorize strategies; c) identify the most used and the most effective strategies; d) analyze other cognitive factors that may influence the use of strategies, such as musical and non-musical auditory memory span; e) analyze the impact of strategy usage and other variables on dictation performance levels; f) evaluate whether the dictation strategies and dictation results change after one ET course session. To reach these objectives, 66 students starting first year university music courses participated in this study. They described their strategies used during figured bass dictations, took two memory tests (musical and non-musical) and answered a questionnaire to indicate their gender, instrument, musical genre, and details about the duration of their musical studies. Firstly, this research allowed us to list and categorize the strategies used to solve figured bass dictations in a thorough way; Secondly, using correlations, analyses of variance and covariance, regressions, and T-tests, this study enabled us to understand the relationship of strategies to performance in harmonic dictation; and to verify if the use of strategies and performance in dictation changed over time, after taking university ear training courses. Moreover, we verified the relation between the performance in dictation and auditory capacities, as well as other variables such as instrument and age at start of musical studies. This thesis is organized into four chapters: Chapter 1 presents a literature review; Chapter 2, the methodology; Chapter 3, all qualitative and quantitative analyses done in response to the research questions; and at last, the discussion of results and conclusion.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2021
Open Access Date: 31 May 2021
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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