Effect of intensive instruction on elementary students' memory for culturally unfamiliar music

Steven J. Morrison*, Steven M. Demorest, Patricia Shehan Campbell, Sarah J. Bartolome, J. Christopher Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Previous researchers have found that both adults and children demonstrate better memory for novel music from their own music culture than from an unfamiliar music culture. It was the purpose of this study to determine whether this "enculturation effect" could be mediated through an extended intensive instructional unit in another culture's music. Fifth-grade students in four intact general music classrooms (two each at two elementary schools in a large U.S. city) took part in an 8-week curriculum exclusively concentrated on Turkish music. Two additional fifth-grade classes at the same schools served as controls and did not receive the Turkish curriculum. Prior to and following the 8-week unit, all classes completed a music memory test that included Western and Turkish music examples. Comparison of pretest and posttest scores revealed that all participants (N = 110) were significantly more successful overall on the second test administration. Consistent with previous findings, participants were significantly less successful remembering items from the unfamiliar music culture, a result that was consistent across test administrations and between instruction and control groups. It appears that the effect of enculturation on music memory is well established early in life and resistant to modification even through extended instructional approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-374
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • cross-cultural music
  • elementary music
  • enculturation
  • music memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Music


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