The effect of focused instruction on young children’s singing accuracy

Steven Demorest*, Bryan Nichols, Peter Q. Pfordresher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to test the effect of daily singing instruction on the singing accuracy of young children and whether accuracy differed across four singing tasks. In a pretest-posttest design over seven months we compared the singing accuracy of kindergarteners in a school receiving daily singing instruction from a music specialist to a control school receiving no curricular music instruction. All children completed four singing tasks at the beginning and end of the study: matching single pitches, matching intervals, matching short patterns, and singing a familiar song from memory. We found that both groups showed improvement on the pitch-matching tasks from pretest to posttest, but the experimental group demonstrated significantly more improvement. Performance on the familiar song task did not improve for either group. Students achieved the highest accuracy scores when matching intervals. Regular singing instruction seems to accelerate the development of accurate singing for young children, but the improvement was evident only in the pitch-matching tasks. It is possible that singing skill development proceeds from pitch-matching to the more difficult task of singing a song from memory. If so, this has implications for how we structure singing instruction in the early grades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-499
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • assessment
  • intonation
  • pitch matching
  • singing accuracy
  • skill development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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