Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Given the prevalent use of sight-reading in the classroom, at music festivals, and in audition procedures, it is important to know the most effective practices in preparing students to sight-read musical excerpts. Previous studies suggest that rhythm accuracy is a significant indicator of sight-reading ability. However, others have observed a possible influence of pitch on the performance of rhythm. In an effort to better understand that relationship, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of pitch and rhythm priming tasks on sight-reading accuracy and fluency. High school wind instrumentalists (N=182) sight-read selected stimulus exercises from the Watkins-Farnum Performance Scale under one of four conditions: pre/post rhythm, pre/post pitch, post only rhythm, or post only pitch. As part of a repeated measures design, two priming treatments and a control condition were administered. Participants played through either the rhythms on one pitch or through the sequence of pitches on quarter notes during perceptual priming tasks and through either a general rhythm exercise or scale exercise during conceptual priming tasks. Those in pre-test/post-test groups first sight-read the exercise as written while those in the post-test only groups began with treatments. Using a three-way repeated measures MANOVA, no significant differences were found in rhythm, pitch or fluency accuracy based on treatment condition (pitch or rhythm) or exposure condition (pre/post or post only). Significant differences were found based on priming condition (p < .02). Rhythms scores were significantly lower after both perceptual and conceptual priming than after control conditions. No significant differences in pitch accuracy or fluency were detected based on priming condition but each significantly improved over time. These results suggest that rhythm processing was influenced in different ways than pitch. The independent consideration of fluency revealed important relationships between pitch and sight-reading accuracy. In addition, significant differences in pitch were found between brass and woodwind players suggesting the importance of aural representation skills in accurate sight-reading. Based on these outcomes, future research should continue to investigate the complex roles of rhythm and pitch processing during music reading performance tasks.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Byo, James L.



Included in

Music Commons