Just beat it: A novel musical test battery to quantify rhythmic integrity, sight-reading accuracy, and musical memorization

Benjamin David Pelletier

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review


The assessment of musical skills is important in the field of music education, the realm of music competitions and for use in determining membership and placement in musical ensembles from primary schools to the professional ranks. However, the empirical testing of musical skills has long been problematic. This is due, in large part, to elements of subjectivity that are present throughout the assessment process. This paper relies upon a combination of established best practices and novel techniques to develop and present an entirely new battery of tests designed to quantitatively measure musical ability in three key areas: rhythmic stability, sight-reading, and memorization. To minimize confounding factors, eliminating subjective elements of musical assessment – as far as practicable – was prioritized in the construction of this sequence of tests. Thus, the battery of tests is intentionally narrow in focus.
Capitalizing on elements drawn from the most successful extant tests, this study combines those with new assessment technologies. Validation testing with 63 trial participants has yielded results that demonstrate the reliability of this battery as an evaluative tool. Its ease of implementation, with only a modest set of materials and space required, makes it ideal for researchers who seek to minimise subjectivity and evaluate the acquisition of specific musical skills.
Compared to currently available methods, this new collection of tests and protocols better aligns with the goal of empirically measuring rhythmic stability, sight- reading, and memorization. It does this whilst minimizing the need for expensive and cumbersome equipment, therefore offering important pedagogical, financial, and logistical advantages to music educators, researchers, conservatories, and students alike.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021
EventInternational Symposium on Performance Science 2021 - McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Duration: 27 Oct 202130 Oct 2021


ConferenceInternational Symposium on Performance Science 2021
Abbreviated titleISPS 2021
Internet address

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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