The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of two levels of extrinsic cognitive load when three levels of adult woodwind musicians practiced. Extrinsic load was manipulated through repetitive and random practice orders. Participants (N = 43) were novice, intermediate, and advanced university woodwind players who completed a three-day, repeated measures design. At the end of two days of practice, novices who had practiced in a blocked (repetitive) practice order played significantly faster than those who had practiced in a random order. However, this difference was eliminated at 24-hour retention testing. Intermediate players experienced no differential effects of extrinsic cognitive load at the end of practice or at retention. For the advanced players, a trend was found for speed increasing from the end of practice to 24-hour retention (p = .06). While the constructs of cognitive load theory are relevant to woodwind learning, further research is needed to determine effective paradigms for their implementation.
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Stambaugh, L. A. (2016). Implications of extrinsic cognitive load on three levels of adult woodwind players. Psychology of Music, 44, 1318-1330. doi: 10.1177/0305735615627206