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I was recently asked by a colleague to provide evidence of research indicating that functional (scale-degree oriented) thinking was more effective than intervallic thinking for dictation and aural skills. I have found plenty of statements asserting the benefits of scale-degree thinking in more recent aural skills texts, as well as in Karpinski's Aural Skills Acquisition and Rogers's Teaching Approaches in Music Theory. But what I'm looking for now are some studies in music cognition and perception as it relates to aural skills. Karpinski states that "a good deal of persuasive research has demonstrated the importance of tonally functional thinking, specifically in terms of scale degrees and their characteristic functions" (Manual for Ear Training and Sight Singing, xiii), but he does not cite that research specifically. Can someone help me out with some quick citations? Thanks!
Note: our current curriculum (which I am now revamping) contains growing interval chains that culminate in twelve-tone rows by semester four. My gut feeling is that the time spent acquiring these skills could more effectively be spent doing other things (gaining more applicable skills).