The University of St. Thomas


Schwab, Maureen

Schwab, Maureen

The Use of Background Music to Improve Pitch Accuracy of Third Grade Students: A Pilot Study
Maureen Ehrichs Schwab

The purpose of this study was to determine if the pitch accuracy of 74 third-grade students would improve with the support of background music. The results of the test were also studied to show the comparison of the pitch accuracy dealing with the gender, age and ability among these 74 third-grade students.

The students were taught four folk songs in their regular music classes. The four folk songs were taught with rhythm reading, pitch direction, and with rote singing. Two of these folk songs were recorded by the music teacher on a cassette tape. This tape was played daily for the next three weeks by the general classroom teacher. The two songs that were not recorded on the tape served as the control songs.

Each student came into the music room on an individual basis for testing purposes. They each received the same directions and sang all four of the folk songs on a cassette tape recorder. This tape was used to compare the student’s pitch accuracy of the two folk songs that had the support of the background music to the two folk songs that did not have the support of the background music.

Some of the results of the study were as follows:

  1. In terms of pitch accuracy, 44% of students scored better, 20% scored better, and 36% scored less well when singing a song they had heard frequently as background music.
  2. The female/male scores showed that the background music helped males students more than females.
  3. Background music made no significant difference in pitch accuracy between older and younger students.
  4. The ability comparison determined that 46% of the average ability students, 13% of the high potential students, and 6% of the learning-disabled students
    showed better pitch accuracy with the support of background music.