Perceived improvement in vocal performance following tertiary-level classical vocal training

Do listeners hear systematic progress?

Helen F. Mitchell*, Dianna T. Kenny, Maree Ryan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study assessed expert listeners' perceptual evaluations of the vocal performances of tertiary level classical singing students over two complete years of training. Fifteen singers sang Caccini's Amarilli, mia bella each year at the start of each academic year of vocal training (Y1, Y2, Y3). Ten expert singing pedagogues assessed a set of each singer's three performances, with performance years presented in randomized order. Listeners first ranked singers' performances from best to worst and then rated each performance for overall vocal quality on a ten point scale to indicate the amount of difference between the performances. The number of Y3 performances that were awarded the top rank was significantly greater than the number of Y1 performances awarded the top rank, but not significantly more than Y2 performances. Mean rating scores for singers' performances were significantly higher for Y3 performances than Y2 and Y1, but Y2 scores were not significantly different from Y1 scores. There was considerable individual variability in singers' systematic stages of improvement during three years of professional training but results indicated that most singers demonstrated a perceptible improvement by Y3.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-93
Number of pages21
JournalMusicae Scientiae
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Longitudinal
  • Perceptual evaluation
  • Singing voice
  • Vocal training
  • Voice quality

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