Expertise in music

​Reading music: Eye-movements and the development of expertise

Music reading, i.e. the reading of musical notation, wields a huge influence over western musical culture, but as a visual process it is still relatively little understood. The research consortium between the Department of Music, University of Jyväskylä, and Department of Teacher Education, University of Turku, will focus on the eye-movements of music readers as indicators of developing musical expertise and cognitive skill. The consortium is funded by the Academy of Finland (2014-2018).

Looking at music: Eye movements and the development of music-reading skill

This project investigates the visual processing skills needed for the successful reading of music notation through eye-tracking methodology. In the project a series of empirical studies, all applying eye-tracking methodology, address several aspects related to sight-reading, rehearsed reading and silent reading of music notation.

The project will be conducted in close collaboration with the multidisciplinary research consortium between the University of Turku (Department of Teacher Education) and the University of Jyväskylä (Department of Music), titled "Reading music: Eye movements and the development of expertise in music" (funded by the Academy of Finland, 2014-2018).


Refereed scientific articles

Penttinen, M., Huovinen, E., & Ylitalo, A. (2015). Reading ahead: Adult music students’ eye movements in temporally controlled performances of a children’s song. International Journal of Music Education: Research, 33(1), 36-50. DOI: 10.1177/0255761413515813 

Penttinen, M., Huovinen, E., & Ylitalo, A. (2013). Silent music reading: Amateur musicians’ visual processing and descriptive skill. Musicæ Scientiæ 17(2), 198-216. DOI: 10.1177/1029864912474288

Penttinen, M., Huovinen, E., & Ylitalo, A. (2012). Unexpected melodic events during music reading: Exploring the eye-movement approach. In E. Cambouropoulos, C. Tsougras, P. Mavromatis, & K. Pastiadis (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition and the 8th Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, Thessaloniki, Greece. (pp. 792-798).

Penttinen, M., & Huovinen, E. (2011). The early development of sight-reading skills in adulthood: A study of eye movements. Journal of Research in Music Education, 59(2), 196-220. DOI: 10.1177/0022429411405339

Penttinen, M., & Huovinen, E. (2009). The effects of melodic grouping and meter on eye movements during simple sight-reading tasks. In J. Louhivuori, T. Eerola, S. Saarikallio, T. Himberg, & P. Eerola (Eds.), Proceedings of the 7th Triennial Conference of European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, Jyväskylä, Finland. (pp. 416-424).

Non-refereed scientific articles

Penttinen, M. (2013). Nuotinluku ja silmänliikkeet – Lectio Praecursoria [Music reading and eye movements – Lectio Praecursoria]. Finnish Journal of Music Education, 16(1), 86-91.


Penttinen, M. (2013). Skill development in music reading: the eye-movement approach. Annales Universitatis Turkuensis, Series B, 369. Academic Dissertation.



  • ​(2014-2018) Academy of Finland
  • (2015-2017) Turku Institute for Advanced Studies