A Developmental Study Of The Effects Of Accompanying Harmonic Context On Children's Vocal Pitch Accuracy Of Familiar Melodies

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Music Education


Contemporary music education philosophy stresses the improtance of an aesthetic response to music and maintains that the elementary music education curriculum should focus on providing experiences which promote the understanding of and response to musical elements and their interactions as well as the development of basic musical skills. Included in this understanding is the perception of harmony, the foundation upon which most Western music is built.The purpose of this study was to ascertain the existence of a developmental sequence for harmonic perception in children in grades one, three, five, and seven, utilizing as a response, the singing of familiar melodies. A secondary purpose was to examine the effects of three harmonically diverse types of accompaniment on a child's simultaneous singing of familiar melodies.One hundred subjects, 25 in each of the grades one, three, five, and seven at Immaculate Conception School in Hialeah, Florida, sang three familiar melodies, "Jingle Bells," "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Each melody was sung with the same four accompaniment conditions: melodic replication, traditional tonal harmony, chromatic harmony, and dissonant harmony (the last three conditions without the melody). Vocal pitch accuracy was measured by the Micro Music Pitch Master.Statistically significant results (p < .001) of the study indicated that (a) harmonic perception improves through the primary grades with significant differences observable between grades one and three, (b) performance scores for subjects in all grades are significantly higher with melodic replication or traditional tonal harmonic accompaniment than with either chromatic or dissonant harmonic accompaniment, and (c) the nature of the melody itself has a significant effect on performance scores regardless of the accompaniment condition.


Education, Music

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