About the study
  • Perfect (or absolute) pitch is the ability to name a musical note just by hearing it, or to sing a note without being given a reference. Some people with perfect pitch can even do this for sounds that wouldn’t usually be considered “musical” – they can tell you if your vacuum cleaner hums a G or G sharp.
    Most people – even among those with musical training – don’t have perfect pitch. People with perfect pitch can sometimes find the ability useful (they can tune their instruments without using a tuning fork or other tuning aids), but it is generally not needed to be a successful musician. Nonetheless, perfect pitch is a rare but interesting human musical ability. It often runs in families, too, suggesting that whether or not you have perfect pitch is at least partially due to genetics. Although musicians and scientists have studied perfect pitch for many years, it is still unclear exactly how it works and why only some people have it.
    To answer these questions, we would like to invite you to participate in Key Change, our online study of perfect pitch. If you have ever played an instrument or sung, we are interested in hearing from you! You do not need to have perfect pitch to participate – we would like to hear from people with all levels of ability and musical expertise. Whether you played guitar for six months in high school, or are a professional opera singer, this study is for you! Since perfect pitch can run in families, we are also interested in people from large musical families – you will have the opportunity to invite your family members to participate too.
    The study involves a brief questionnaire about you and your musical experiences, as well as those of your family members. You will then complete two perfect pitch tests, which involve identifying notes played through your speakers or headphones. Overall, the study should take about 45 minutes, but you can take a break at any time and return later. Click the Participate! button to begin.
    Thank you for your participation!
    If you have any questions, please let us know via the Contact the researchers link.
  • Professor Sarah Wilson

    Sarah is an internationally recognised expert in Cognitive Neuroscience and Clinical Neuropsychology. Her research program has advanced our understanding of the neural basis of human cognition and behaviour. She has pioneered music neuroscience research in Australia, showing how music can enhance brain function in healthy individuals, and facilitate recovery after brain injury. She has also described a new clinical syndrome that arises following treatment of neurological disorders, and her research has led to better management of the cognitive, emotional, and social difficulties faced by individuals recovering from brain injury. Sarah employs behavioural, genetic, and neuroimaging techniques in her research, and heads a vibrant team of researchers in the Clinical and Music Neuroscience Lab. She is also the Director of Music, Mind and Wellbeing (MMW), a world-first initiative linking neuroscience with music and social wellbeing through a unique set of collaborations spanning music, science, health, education, and industry. Clinically, she has expertise in the cognitive and psychosocial assessment of individuals with brain injury. She has established a hospital-based rehabilitation service for epilepsy patients and their families, and more recently a community-based Psychosocial Clinic for patients with Functional Neurological Disorders. Her research has been awarded multiple prizes internationally and changed clinical practice around the globe.

    Dr Margaret Osborne

    Dr Margaret Osborne is a Lecturer in Music (Performance Science) in the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, and Teaching Specialist in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at The University of Melbourne. She graduated with a PhD from the University of Sydney in which she investigated the phenomenology and treatment of music performance anxiety in adolescents. Margaret is also a registered psychologist and occupational rehabilitation counsellor, and past- President of the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare. 
    Margaret’s work specialises in performance science and psychology. As a result of her research and professional practice, Margaret is passionate about assisting people to manage anxiety, build confidence, enhance performance, and develop emotional resilience. She works with Professor Gary McPherson and colleagues at the University of New South Wales, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the Royal College of Music on an ARC Discovery Project which examines motivation and practice quality in musicians who are undertaking advanced training in music performance. In addition, she conducts her own research and teaching in psychological strategies to manage performance anxiety and enhance performance potential in musicians and athletes. In 2016 she helped establish IgniteLab, a  careers and entrepreneurship initiative which supports Melbourne Conservatorium of Music students to build 21st century careers.
    Jane Bairnsfather

    Jane is currently completing a combined Master of Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology)/PhD at the University of Melbourne, under the supervision of Sarah and Margaret. She graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) from the Australian National University in 2014. Her research in the Clinical and Music Neuroscience Lab focuses on perfect pitch and how it can run in families. The Key Change online study forms a core part of her PhD research.