[Smt-talk] Aptitude Testing

Elizabeth W. Marvin bmarvin at esm.rochester.edu
Mon Aug 6 13:20:50 PDT 2012

Dear Roger,

The AMMA is used widely in music education circles, and I believe the music
education faculty have been giving the AMMA to all incoming freshmen at
Eastman for about 5 years now.  I know that these faculty have been
investigating whether there is a correlation between AMMA and performance on
instrumental juries. I am not sure whether this research has been published.
I¹ll try to find out from the primary investigator and I¹ll post the
citation if it has.

I gave the test to myself (from the computer-implemented version of the test
you buy on DVD; it spits out a score at the end).  I¹m trying to remember
exactly how it works.  My recollection is that the AMMA is designed like a
same-different discrimination test ‹ in most of these tests, you hear two
melodies and have to report whether they were the same or different.  The
AMMA has a different wrinkle ‹ you have to say whether the two melodies are
similar or different.  The similar melodies are embellished versions of the
original (the instructions says the similar melody ³will always have more
notes²).  It¹s a little like identifying parallel and contrasting periods.
The tempi are fast, and the melodies are often syncopated, and are composed
in many modes (you might get a long syncopated Phrygian melody, that¹s a
little hard to remember, then you hear another one ‹ is is similar or
different?).  It¹s not so easy!

The AMMA is also used in music cognition experimentation.  I just went on
Google Scholar and typed ³music perception AMMA² and got over 1,000 hits,
many of them in the Journal of Research in Music Education, but many also in
Music Perception, Nature, and various scientific journals.  It seems to be
used more and more widely in that community, and you might want to check out
some of these articles.  (The titles alone are fascinating!)  I am using it
on a series of experiments investigating whether music aptitude (as measured
by the AMMA) or music achievement (number of years studying an instrument)
is correlated with the ability to hear music and speech through interfering
noise.  I have no results to report yet, but Nina Kraus and Ric Ashley have
been doing similar work at Northwestern University and have published it.
Nina reported on this work as the keynote address at the Society for Music
Perception and Cognition, which met last August at Eastman.  Hope this

Betsy Marvin
Eastman School of Music

> From: Roger Graybill <Roger.Graybill at necmusic.edu>
> Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2012 00:05:38 +0000
> To: "smt-talk at societymusictheory.org" <smt-talk at societymusictheory.org>
> Subject: [Smt-talk] Aptitude testing
> Dear smt-list:
> I'm curious to know whether anyone on the list is familiar with an aptitude
> test, designed by Edwin Gordon, that goes by the name "Advanced Measures of
> Music Audiation" (AMMA).  Gordon is in the field of music education, and
> over the last several decades he's developed a music learning theory that
> (among other things) trains students in audiation skills.
> Gordon contrasts musical aptitude with achievement (the former does not
> depend on notational skills)  and he believes that that students who are not
> high achievers can actually possess a high aptitude level.  The aptitude
> test that he has designed does not include any notation, and it's intended
> to work for college students as well as secondary students and older adults.
> Have any of us on the list administered AMMA to college music majors, and if
> yes, how did it work out?
> Please feel free to respond to me privately if you prefer.
> Thanks,
> Roger Graybill
> Faculty, Music Theory Department
> New England Conservatory
> roger.graybill at necmusic.edu

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