Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Muriello, John

First Committee Member

Finnegan, Eileen

Second Committee Member

Eberle-Fink, Katherine

Third Committee Member

Swanson, Stephen

Fourth Committee Member

Puderbaugh, David


Over the past several decades, cognitive and behavioral scientists have been researching the most effective practices for training muscles to produce specific movements consistently and accurately. That research has led to relatively wide acceptance of several best practices for the training of motor skills. One such practice is the reduction in the frequency with which augmented (external) feedback is provided by the instructor/trainer during skill-acquisition. This theory of low-frequency feedback has been examined by research in a wide variety of fields ranging from exercise and sport to voice therapy and rehabilitation. Prior to the study reported here, however, this theory had not been applied the acquisition of vocal skills associated with classical singing techniques. The current research consisted of an alternating treatment single-subject study, which was conducted on a college campus over the course of a 15-week semester. 8 college voice students (3 male and 5 female) ranging in age from 18 to 25 participated in voice lessons provided by the researcher and aimed at improving the overall quality of the voices of the participants. Over the course of the15 weeks, the instructor alternated between providing a high-frequency feedback (HFF) instruction condition and a low-frequency feedback (LFF) instruction condition. At the beginning of each session, a vocal sample was recorded to test the retention of the skills trained in the previous lesson. Those recordings were evaluated by a panel of five college voice instructors who provided a numerical score (out of a possible 100 pts.) for each sample on the basis of tone quality, breath management, and intonation. The results of this study indicated that three of the eight subjects retained more vocal skill ability during the HFF phases of the study, while the remaining five subjects retained less vocal skill ability during the HFF phases of the study. It was also seen that the three subjects who responded favorably to the HFF instruction condition were also those whose scores were higher throughout the duration of the study. These findings would appear to indicate that an HFF instruction condition may be more beneficial to more experienced or more skilled singers, while an LFF instruction condition may be more beneficial to more novice singers. In the final chapter of this report, several modifications to this study are suggested along with suggestions for future research regarding the application of other principles from motor-learning theory to the acquisition of new vocal skills.


Feedback Frequency, Motor Learning, Singing


x, 177 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 174-177).


Copyright 2011 Lynn Milo Maxfield

Included in

Music Commons