Siyao Cheng

Research Student -  PhD

Research Program: Brain Sciences

Thesis Title

A comparison of different music notations: initial interpretations, learning outcomes and chunkings

Research Project

Learning a musical instrument is a beneficial activity for adults to keep cognitively stimulated whilst also keeping socially connected with others. However, there remains a void in practical research that helps us understand what the optimal education methods are for adult learners. Music notation uses images, symbols or codes to represent musical sounds and instructions for performance. The standard form of musical notation is almost universally used to communicate between composers and performers. However, of those who commence formal music study, relatively few master music reading at a satisfactory level due to the complexity of conventional notation. To improve learning and teaching strategies in music reading, three main aspects will be addressed in different music notation systems in the present PhD project: quantifications of notation cognition (iconicity, discriminability, and complexity); learning outcomes (their recognisability and performability); strategies for facilitating chunking. Meanwhile, the potential interaction effects of age and musical sophistication (in the general population) will be analysed in all the experiments. In sum, the present PhD project explores how music notation systems can be understood theoretically and experimentally in the process of analysing, improving, or rethinking existing music notations and techniques.


  • Master of Research: Psychology (MARCS Institute, Western Sydney University, Australia), 2020
  • Bachelor of Psychology (Shandong Normal University, China), 2016

Phone+61 2 9772 6107
LocationWestern Sydney University Westmead campus