Developing Musical Imagery: Contributions from Pedagogy and Cognitive Science

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Sarah Gates


Research into the development of musical imagery ability has remained stagnant in both the
fields of aural skills pedagogy and cognitive science. This article integrates scholarship from
each discipline in order to provide a way forward for both the study and practice of imagery
development. Analysis of pedagogical practices and approaches provides a foundation for the
type and function of activities used to affect imagery ability, while newly designed measurement
techniques in the cognitive sciences are shown to have promising implications for assessing
change in imagery ability over time. I then consolidate insights from both fields by developing a
model of imagery development. Framed through the lens of expertise acquisition and skilled
memory performance (Ericsson 2018), this model has implications for approaches to imagery in
the aural skills classroom and for empirical studies of imagery development in music cognition.

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