The Effect of Focus of Attention on Error Detection Ability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The teaching of error detection is a complicated process, made more so by our evolving understanding of the psychological processes involved with attention itself. The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of listener attention on the error detection process. Guiding research questions were as follows: (1) In what ways does directing attention influence one’s ability to detect errors? and (2) Does voicing of error influence participants’ ability to detect the error? Participants (N = 64) at six universities listened to 40 recorded excerpts of three-part Haydn divertimenti, either focusing on one line or holistically, while marking errors on a printed score. Participants were better able to detect errors in lines of focus than in peripheral lines and were similarly better at detecting errors in an unfocused listening condition versus focusing on any one of the lines. Additionally, participants were most successful in detecting peripheral errors when focusing on the middle staff and were least successful in detecting errors in the bass line, even when focusing on the bass line. Suggestions for future research and implications for music education are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-485
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • error detection
  • focus of attention
  • inattentional deafness in music
  • inattentional processing in music

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Music


Dive into the research topics of 'The Effect of Focus of Attention on Error Detection Ability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this