accompanying the view that music training leads to improved mathematical performance is the view that that there is an overlap between the kinds of skills needed for music and mathematics. We examined the popular conception that mathematicians have better music abilities than nonmathematicians. We administered a self-report questionnaire via the internet to assess musicality (music perception and music memory) and musicianship (music performance and music creation). Respondents were doctoral-level members of the American Mathematical Association or the Modern Language Association (i.e., literature and language scholars). The mathematics group did not exhibit higher levels of either musicality or musicianship. Among those reporting high music-performance ability (facility in playing an instrument and/or sight-reading ability), mathematicians did not report significantly greater musicality than did the literature/language scholars. These findings do not lend support to the hypothesis that mathematicians are more musical than people with nonquantitative backgrounds.
Research Article| December 01 2011
Do Mathematicians Have Above Average Musical Skill?
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Jennifer Haimson, Deanna Swain, Ellen Winner; Do Mathematicians Have Above Average Musical Skill?. Music Perception 1 December 2011; 29 (2): 203–213. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/mp.2011.29.2.203
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