Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 143–171 | Cite as

A cognitive model of musical sight-reading

  • Thomas Wolf


The author, a professional flutist and psychologist, interviewed four pianists noted for their sight-reading abilities. The results of the interviews are considered from several points of view. Sight-reading is analyzed as a problem in pattern recognition: a movement from a sonata by Handel is used to illustrate the principle of scanning for familiar patterns. The close relationship between musical sight-reading and the reading of conventional texts is also suggested. Finally, drawing on the findings of other studies, a cognitive model of musical sight-reading is proposed. The schematic model of interlocking information-processing systems explains the differences between skilled and unskilled sight-readers; it also explains why some experienced, professional musicians are poor sight-readers. Verification of the model is provided in an additional section in which conversations with unskilled sight-readers are reported.


Pattern Recognition Cognitive Psychology Schematic Model Cognitive Model Additional Section 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Wolf
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationHarvard UniversityCambridge

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