Has Junior a natural ear for music? Or are his piano lessons wasted effort? It’s easy to find out at once, according to Prof. Harold M. Williams, of the University of Iowa Child Welfare Research Station. Tests he has devised show whether a child has a real sense of rhythm and whether he can keep a tune in singing.

A rhythm hammer provides the first test. With it a.child is asked to tap on a plate, in time with the clicks of a special electric clock. Electric wires lead from plate and clock to another room, where on a chart whirled by a phonograph turntable an automatic pen records how closely the child has followed the clock’s beat. In another test, a child is asked to sing a song he has learned. An experimenter sits near by with a telephone transmitter. In another room, a special photographic apparatus makes a sound picture of the child’s singing and shows whether he can carry a tune.

  1. Don says: March 28, 20084:56 am

    Wasn’t the professor named Harold Hill? And the city was “River City”, I believe . . . .

  2. Blurgle says: March 28, 20087:02 am

    This looks like trouble with a capital T!

  3. Stannous says: March 28, 200811:54 am

    You think the circle on the right was done by a black kid, the one on the left by a white one?

    I’m just sayin’…

  4. addiefleur says: March 31, 20084:50 pm

    yes, you could buy this thing,like a lunatic, or you could just be a normal person and notice how your kid sings and moves around, when she sings and moves around, and she will, they do both, a lot.

    At first I thought, this contraption just causes tension for the child, but anyone who would buy this, has already messed up their child, so they might as well just get it, if not this, it’ll just be something else.

    When I read these ads, I wish I could know how many of the item were sold.


  5. Daniel E. Friedman says: April 7, 20083:59 am

    Interesting test. My concern is that the test doesn’t account for variables like a child’s maturity level, age, ability to concentrate at a given moment… In my opinion, the last thing a parent would want to do is label a kid’s musicality based on this one test.

  6. Eliyahu says: May 15, 20083:42 pm

    It’s amazing that anyone would have thought that a simple test could measure artistic ability and creativity, both of which are components of musicianship. As child, I would have certainly failed such a test despite the fact that, as an adult, I’ve played bassoon with several symphony orchestras and community bands. The only real way to determine if someone has musical ability is to give them the opportunity and encouragement to try.

  7. AJ says: April 13, 20092:03 pm

    There is no such thing as being tone deaf. People might have a bit more of an inclination to music, but, scientifically speaking, we can all hear half step incriments (Provided that there is no hearing defecit. The rest is just training.

  8. Eli says: April 13, 20095:16 pm

    Yes, we can all hear tonal increments, but that doesn’t mean we can process them and reproduce them correctly. As a music student and now as an amateur musician, I’ve encountered people whose C-major scale begins on a C and ends within a half step of that C, and other for whom the same scale begins on that C and, eight notes later, ends up somewhere around a G, a fifth higher. It’s really not very different than those music students who honestly can’t distinguish when they’re flat or sharp — just a matter of degree.

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