PhD defence Yke Schotanus: Singing promotes language processing

Zingen op school ©
Singing at school ©

Sung text is more difficult to process than spoken text, and yet singing can promote language processing, shows the doctoral research of Yke Schotanus (Musicology). And songs, especially with instrumental accompaniment, provide more positive emotions, increased concentration, and a more positive attitude towards the lyrics. The research took place in various ways, both in a classroom setting and in a laboratory setting with EEG measurements and also online. Yke Schotanus will receive his doctorate from Utrecht University on 9 October 2020.

“My research shows that a sung text (a cappella) is better remembered than a spoken text. In addition, repetitions in sung texts are considered more acceptable and meaningful than in spoken texts. ” Musical characteristics that are demonstrably difficult to process, such as a key foreign note, draw special attention to the language. It also appears that aspects of the song structure (rhyme, stanza organization) and timing can be used to facilitate word processing or to promote a specific interpretation of the text.

Singing in front of the class

These results are interesting for both education and the literary world. If teachers were to make more use of music in education, it could help the students to process and remember texts better. Music improves memory and probably also comprehension. Schotanus: "If you want to present difficult texts to students, I think they will be easier to understand if they are also sung during the reading."

Start date and time
End date and time
University Hall, Domplein 29, Utrecht University
PhD candidate
Drs Yke Schotanus
Singing as a figure of speech, music as punctuation
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof E.G.J. Wennekes
Dr F. Hakemulder
Dr R.M. Willems