The accurate performance of melody and rhythm when playing a musical instrument is important for all instrumentalists. Although this is a primary component to most music education curricula, research investigating the effect of melody on rhythm reading is limited. Further understanding of this vital process in the performance of instrumental music would assist music educators in the development of effective lesson and rehearsal techniques to facilitate this process for their students.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of melodic contour on rhythm pattern identification among beginning band students. Data were collected on participantsâ ability to identify rhythm patterns from aural prompts consisting of either no melody, melody that moves by step, or melody that moves by leap. The researcher developed a fifteen question multiple choice rhythm pattern selection test. The subjects listened to a variety of rhythm patterns containing either no melodic movement, melody that moved by step, or melody that moved by leap. Subjects chose one of three possible non-melodic rhythm patterns for each question. Scoring was completed using a score of two points for each correct answer and one point for each incorrect answer. Scores were calculated and analyzed comparing the three presentation formats (no melody, melody by step, and melody by leap). Also compared were scores among the different elementary schools, instrument families, and reported previous instruction in instrumental music.
In the analysis of the data collected, a three-way ANOVA with repeated
measures on three factors was conducted to determine differences among the groups. The repeated measures were the three scores received by each student reflecting the three melodic conditions, and the three factors were school attended, instrument family, and previous experience. No significant differences were found for any comparisons, nor were there any significant interaction effects. While this study did not have any significant findings, further research is needed in the area of melodic and rhythmic processing in instrumental music performance.