New publication on joint action coordination in expert-novice pianists

June 22, 2018

Joint action coordination in expert-novice pairs: Can experts predict novices’ suboptimal timing?

Thomas Wolf, PhD student at the Social Mind and Body group, toghether with supervisors Natalie Sebanz and Günther Knoblich published an article in Cognition to present his research results on how expert pianists adjust their predictions to the suboptimal timing of novice pianists based on their performance and their sheet music. The open access publication can be downloaded here


Previous research has established that skilled joint action partners use predictive models to achieve temporal coordination, for instance, when playing a music duet. But how do joint action partners with different skill levels achieve coordination? Can experts predict the suboptimal timing of novices? What kind of information allows them to predict novices’ timing? To address these questions, we asked skilled pianists to perform duets with piano novices. We varied whether, prior to performing duets, experts were familiar with novices’ performances of their individual parts of the duets and whether experts had access to the musical scores including the novices’ part of the duet. Familiarity with the score led to better coordination when the score implied a difficult passage. Familiarity with novices’ performances led to better joint action coordination for the remaining parts of the duet. Together, the results indicate that experts are surprisingly flexible in predicting novices’ suboptimal timing.