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Investigation of New Song Acquisition by Six Year Olds in China, Taiwan, and the United States Randall Moore Hsiao-Shien Chen Xiang-Qing Feng ABSTRACT Researchers in three countries investigated new song acquisition by six year-old children in China, Taiwan, and the United States. Thirty children from each country individually learned a new song related to their native language that used E4, G4, and A4 pitches in 16 beats of 2/4 meter. Due to its brevity, the entire song was taught without dividing it into phrases. Subjects learned and performed the new song alone and with a model over repeated trials during a 10-15 minute period. Analysis of recordings shows positive learning curves for subjects acquiring over 70% of a new song in ten trials. Significant positive correlations occurred between singing accuracy for both new song acquisition and familiar song performance. Accuracy of singing was measured by frequency of correct pitches, intervals or melodic contour, and words. The 90 six year olds learned the words to the new song with a mean accuracy of 85% and achieved only 67% on intervals and 51% on pitches. In word acquisition of new songs, subjects frequently learned rhyming words at phrase endings first and gradually added more correct responses across repetitions. American subjects sang more accurately with modeling, and Chinese subjects demonstrated no significant differences singing alone than with a model. Findings corroborate previous research that when young children learn new songs in their language, they tend to acquire words first, then contour or intervals, and finally exact pitches. Six year olds demonstrated ability to learn a new song quickly with simultaneous modeling and contingent feedback.

2008 Moore, Chen and Feng