Ross Walker

Date of Submission



It should be no surprise to suggest that the better a child listens, the better is their likelihood of classroom success. Within the existing body of research, it is relatively easy to locate evidence that not only is auditory discrimination a key predictor of children's classroom success, but that instrumental music training can enhance children's auditory discrimination skills. Optimizing auditory discrimination is as equally important for children who have a disability as it is for those who do not have a disability. However, the essential problem of (virtually all) the available literature examining music training and its associated non-musical benefits, is that it rarely identifies whether any children who had a disability were included in the study’s experimental samples. This limitation is problematic. While the findings of many studies that investigate auditory discrimination and instrumental music training may well be relevant for children who have a disability, it simply cannot be known with certainty whether they are or not. Therefore, specifically identifying children who had a disability within the participant sample of this study was the critical aspect differentiating this project from the way other, similar studies have been typically run and reported. In all, this study involved 185 eight-year-old children drawn from four schools in south-east Queensland, Australia. Of these, 131 children received instrumental music training (the intervention), while 54 others were not involved in any form of instrumental training over the same 18-week period. A parent survey was used to determine whether individual children who were involved in this study had a disability. Auditory discrimination testing of all the study's participants was performed both before and after the intervention, and scores from each of these tests compared. This study found that children receiving instrumental music training demonstrated significantly greater improvements to their auditory discrimination than did their peers who were not involved in instrumental music training. Critically, this association between instrumental music training and better auditory discrimination performance remained constant regardless of whether the children in this study had a disability. Moreover, this study also found that the effect size for the association between instrumental music training and improvements to auditory discrimination skill was greatest for the children who had a disability and were involved in regular inschool instrumental music classes learning alongside their peers who did not have a disability.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


187 pages

Degree Name

Master of Education (Research) (MEd(Res))


Faculty of Education and Arts