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 from the 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.
The present study investigated the role of motor and audiovisual learning in the memorization of four tonally ambiguous melodies for piano. A total of one hundred and twenty participants divided into three groups — pianists, other musicians (i.e., not pianists), and nonmusicians — learned the melodies through either playing them on a keyboard ( playing condition ), through performing the melodies on a piano without auditory feedback ( silent playing condition ), through watching a video with a performer playing the melodies ( seeing condition ), or through listening to them ( control condition ). Participants were exposed to each melody four times during the learning phase (in additional to hearing it once during a familiarization phase). This exposure consisted of an alternation between hearing the melody and engaging with the melody in the way determined by the learning condition. Participants in the control group only received the auditory aspect of the learning phase and listened to each melody twice. Memory of the melodies was tested after a 10-minute break. Our results indicate a benefit of motor learning for all groups of participants, suggesting that active sensorimotor experience plays a key role in musical skill acquisition.