The intent of this thesis is to explore the relationship between spatial ability and the wide range of musical instruments musicians play. Existing literature has established a link between musicianship and improved spatial ability, but researchers have yet to look at how the spatial makeup of different musical instruments may, in turn, reveal unique levels of spatial proficiency from one instrumentalist to the next. This study was formatted as an online survey that included a music experience scale, a demographics scale, and two measures of spatial ability: the Card Rotations Test (CRT) and the Paper Folding Test (PFT). Participants who played larger instruments were hypothesized to score higher on the spatial ability tests. Results show that specific musical instruments score differently on spatial ability measures, and large instruments like the piano and marimba consistently outperform smaller instruments. This largely exploratory study attempts to show that the psychological discipline as a whole should reevaluate how it categorizes and studies musicians. Furthermore, these preliminary findings will encourage better practice for how music educators handle the musical instrument selection process, hopefully leading to a more long-term, student-centered approach.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Tucker, Tevis L., "Role of Spatial Ability in Musical Instrument Choice: Implications for Music Education" (2019). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 602.