An Email for Chris
Then the strategy for learning must be based in altering perception, not adding meaning to a characteristic we aren't able to categorically perceive yet.
Yes, that's the conclusion I'm currently pondering-- which, I confess, I find a bit of a relief, because it may mean a simpler procedure.
It does seem to be a simpler problem. But still, how do we solve it? How do you induce categorical perception by simply presenting sounds in some novel manner?
Here's some food for thought. People with absolute pitch vary in their ability a lot. Some automatically sort all sounds into 12 categories and can only distinguish clear differences between categories. Others can detect changes in frequency as subtle as 20 cents. Why is this? It seems everyone with color vision has the same potential for color discrimination. Painters and other artists may have a more finely adjusted sense of color, but their judgments of color are something anyone can learn. Are individuals with a more "crude" form of absolute pitch able to train themselves to hear the small discrepancies in frequency individuals with more attuned ears can hear? If not, perfect pitch may truly be dependent on childhood learning.
And this may be part of the reason so many people don't believe perfect pitch is teachable to adults. To teach perfect pitch would be to change someone's fundamental perception of sound, a perception they've maintained for 20 or 30 years of their life. How someone hears music and sound has been ingrained in them for decades. Teaching perfect pitch would mean altering their perception so they never hear sound the same way again! It would mean stimulating areas of the brain with sound input that never before activated when the individual listened to music or any other sound. Their brains would have to react differently to sound for the rest of their lives. As relative pitchers, every time we hear sound the same old parts of our brain light up. How can you get totally different parts of the brain to work with sound when every sound you hear already stimulates relatively fixed areas of the brain, the same areas your brain has been using to interpret sound since you were a child? Those are some crazy thoughts...