The University of St. Thomas

Music

Stegner, LaGretta

Stegner, LaGretta

Implications of Gender Differences Regarding Aural Acuity in the Elementary Vocal Music Classroom
LaGretta Stegner
Abstract

The intent of this study was to determine the aural acuity gender differences of males and females from infancy through adulthood, and to research the implications of those differences for the elementary vocal music classroom, the elementary classroom, and the SATB choir.  Specifically, the researcher investigated (1) The similar and dissimilar aural acuity characteristics of male and female infants, (2) The similar and dissimilar aural acuity characteristics of male and female elementary-age children, and (3) The similar and dissimilar aural acuity characteristics of male and female adults.  The body of this work is presented in three distinct sections: research on the aural acuity of infants, elementary children, and adults, respectively, followed by summaries and implications for the elementary classroom setting, the elementary vocal music classroom, and the SATB choral setting. 

The body of research presented in this study supports the findings that (1) there is a female superiority in hearing from birth to adulthood as well as (2) a right ear hearing advantage for both sexes from infancy through childhood. Furthermore, these findings have direct implications for teaching and learning in the elementary vocal music classroom, the elementary classroom, and the SATB choir.

In the elementary vocal music classroom aural acuity is required for the core skills of pitch-matching, tonal memory and inner hearing. There are conflicting results in studies regarding gender differences in the vocal accuracy of elementary children. Some studies report no difference in the vocal accuracy of boys and girls, while others found that girls match pitch better than boys, especially in song material. Auditory feedback is also essential to decoding pitch. Studies have shown the importance of self-monitoring for the improvement of inaccurate singing, as well as singing alone. A mixed modality of teaching styles, including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic have also been shown to positively affect pitch perception.

Because girls hear better than boys, in the elementary classroom sometimes a louder voice is needed for boys.  In addition, boys can be placed closer to the source of sound whenever possible.  For girls, a softer speaking voice should be used and the classroom should be kept free of extraneous noise. The research supports increased comprehension and learner satisfaction when auditory feedback is increased in the classroom. Auditory bombardment, or repetition, has also been shown to increase comprehension.

In the SATB choral setting, research has shown that formation is not as important to choral sound as traditionally thought. Acoustical voice matching and lateral or circumambient spacing result in a more pleasing choral sound for singers and auditors than any other configuration.      

Based upon the research presented, it can be concluded that males are at a disadvantage to females in the area of aural acuity within the elementary vocal music classroom setting, the elementary classroom, and the SATB choral setting.  

Thesis Supervisor
Dr. Carroll Gonzo