Semester of Graduation

Summer 2022


Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



It has been well documented that musicians perform better in memory tasks than non-musicians. The current study utilized self-taught musicians, formally trained musicians, and non-musicians, and focused on short-term memory (STM), musicianship, and SES factors to explore this finding. Do the memory benefits of musical training extend to self-taught musicians? First, we addressed musicianship amongst all groups using the Goldsmith’s Musical Sophistication Index (GMSI), which contained subjective and objective measures. The subjective measure was a survey regarding the role of music in daily life. In the objective measures, participants completed tests of beat and melody perception. To measure STM, participants completed an audio-only and audiovisual serial recall task. A correlational analysis was run to view relationships among the five subjective measures with one another and with the GMSI general score. Another correlational analysis was run between the general score and objective tasks. Performance on the recall tasks was examined among all groups. Lastly, recall scores and objective measures were tested for any correlations. Through a regression analysis, memory was predicted by musical training, and further analysis showed a difference in memory scores between musician groups. However, no differences were found in SES or aptitude between musician types, as they were not significant predictors. The significant difference in our memory variable indicates that there could be important differences in the two methods of learning music, and this finding could have broader implications for communities and individuals without the means of learning through school or private lessons. However, further research is warranted before firm conclusions can be drawn.

Committee Chair

Elliott, Emily M.