Learning music from each other: Synchronization, turn-taking, or imitation?

Andrea Schiavio*, Jan Stupacher, Richard Parncutt, Renee Timmers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


IN AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY, WE INVESTIGATED how well novices can learn from each other in situations of technology-aided musical skill acquisition, comparing joint and solo learning, and learning through imitation, synchronization, and turn-taking. Fifty-four participants became familiar, either solo or in pairs, with three short musical melodies and then individually performed each from memory. Each melody was learned in a different way: Participants from the solo group were asked via an instructional video to: 1) play in synchrony with the video, 2) take turns with the video, or 3) imitate the video. Participants fromthe duo group engaged in the same learning trials, but with a partner. Novices in both groups performed more accurately in pitch and time when learning in synchrony and turn-taking than in imitation. No differences were found between solo and joint learning. These results suggest that musical learning benefits from a shared, in-the-moment, musical experience, where responsibilities and cognitive resources are distributed between biological (i.e., peers) and hybrid (i.e., participant( s) and computer) assemblies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-422
Number of pages20
JournalMusic perception
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Elli Xypolitaki for coding the videos and Nils Meyer-Kahlen for technical support during data collection. We are grateful to the action editor and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions. AS was supported by a Lise Meitner Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): project number M2148. JS was supported by an Erwin Schrödinger Fellowship from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): project number J4288.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 University of California Press. All rights reserved.


  • Embodied cognition
  • Interaction
  • Joint action
  • Music education
  • Synchronization

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