Old Dogs and New Tricks: Performance Changes as Senior Adults Learn a Wind Instrument

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Poster presented at College Music Society Southern Regional Conference, Orlando, FL.


This study examined how senior adults’ finger movements refine during the earliest stages of learning to play a wind instrument. Novice participants (n = 6) were over 50 years old (Mage = 66.1 years; SD = 7.1 years; females, n = 3; males, n = 3). They were compared to experienced players (n = 4; females, n = 2; males, n = 2 ), aged 19 to 70 years. Novices had less than one year of experience playing a woodwind instrument. Participants attended from one to four individual study sessions with the researcher. They were given lessons on a Yamaha MIDI Wind Controller, which is like an electronic soprano saxophone. Study sessions were conducted like private lessons. Materials included long tones, 5-note warm-up exercises, the book “Essential Elements Book 1 for Tenor Saxophone”, and test playing patterns. The test playing patterns were composed by the researcher to show finger fluency (C D E F G F E D C) and coordination (C E D F E G G E F D E C). Test patterns were played at slow (80bpm), moderate (100-120 bpm), and fast (120bpm) tempos. Performances are currently being scored for pitch accuracy and evenness. Repeated measures analyses will examine if novices’ pitch accuracy and evenness improved with each day of practice. Between-subjects analyses will compare novices’ results to experts’ results. Preliminary results are demonstrating that senior beginners show fine motor skill improvement with only a limited number of practice sessions.


College Music Society Southern Regional Conference


Orlando, FL

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