Results of a previous study revealed that musically untrained listeners showed a significant, age-related increase in their sensitivity to rhythmic information when judging the degree of difference between a theme and selected pitch and rhythm variations. There was no corresponding increase in their sensitivity to pitch information, and there were no age-related differences in the overall integration process used to reach their judgments. The purpose of this study was to test the possibility that the developmental differences found in the earlier study were due to specific characteristics of the test melody used. Musical novices were randomly sampled from Grades 1, 5, and 9 of three elementary schools and three high schools from three different suburban school districts. Adult musical novices were chosen from elementary education majors tested at the beginning of their required music course. Results using a new, contrasting test melody confirmed the findings of the first study regarding the increased importance of rhythmic information. However, some melody-related differences were found. Implications for early music education experiences and future research in perceptual development are discussed.
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