Theses Doctoral

Pitch and Rhythm Discrimination in Musicians and Dancers with Implications for Language Aptitude

Brown, Adriel

Musicians acquire musical skills (i.e., pitch and rhythm discrimination) from music education. Research indicates musical skills can transfer to and assist learning in non-arts domains, including language learning. Like musicians, dancers also acquire musical skills in dance education through embodied cognitive processes. However, few or no researchers have investigated the musical skills attained from dance education and considered how these musical skills might interact with language aptitude.

Therefore, in this study, 72 undergraduate and graduate music (n = 37) and dance majors (n = 35) were evaluated and compared in pitch and rhythm discrimination scores in the Advanced Measures of Music Audiation (AMMA) aptitude test. Participants were also administered a survey to collect data on their demographics and music, dance, and language experience. The study results suggest that music majors may be superior in pitch and rhythm discrimination compared to dance majors, and that there is no difference between dance majors and non-music majors in pitch and rhythm discrimination.

Additional findings suggest that bilingual/multilingual music and dance majors may be superior in pitch discrimination compared to monolingual music and dance majors; however, no difference was found in rhythm discrimination between these two groups. Finally, results also suggest that tonal language-speaking music and dance majors may be superior in pitch and rhythm discrimination compared to non-tonal language-speaking music and dance majors.


  • thumnail for Brown_columbia_0054D_18165.pdf Brown_columbia_0054D_18165.pdf application/pdf 973 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Cognitive Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Gordon, Peter
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 1, 2023