Singing is a universal form of music expression. However, the extent of skill in carrying a tune and maintaining correct timing varies across people. Differences have been reported between professional singers and non-singers; however, whether singing accuracy depends on specialized vocal training or more general types of music training has not been investigated before. In this study, singers, instrumentalists, and nonmusicians sang Happy Birthday under conditions where they could or could not hear themselves singing. The main purpose of the study was to determine the influence of vocal versus instrumental training on pitch and timing accuracy when singing with and without auditory feedback. The results for pitch and tempo showed that singers depended on auditory feedback less than nonmusicians and instrumentalists alike, and were better able to use kinesthetic feedback in the absence of auditory feedback. Instrumentalists have had considerable ear and instrumental practice with feedback, but this did not transfer to pitch control when singing without auditory feedback, suggesting the ability to use kinesthesia for singing is enhanced through the kinds of practice/training singers receive. Rhythmic stability across all conditions and groups suggested that rhythmic calculations do not depend on music training or on use of auditory feedback.

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