Are You Your Own Best Judge? On the Self-Evaluation of Singing

Pauline Larrouy-Maestri, Xinyue Wang, Renan Vairo Nunes, David Poeppel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Singers are the first judges of their own performances. Although performers usually share a precise definition of pitch accuracy, do they correctly estimate their own ability to sing in tune? This study examines the accuracy of professional singers’ self-evaluations and investigates the profiles of performers/judges. Methods: Eighteen highly trained soprano singers were invited to evaluate the pitch accuracy of peers’ performances, selected from an existing corpus, and their own previously recorded performances in a pairwise comparison paradigm. The statistical model derived from the participants’ evaluation of their peers allowed us to estimate the pitch accuracy of participants’ own performances and served as a reference to quantify participants’ evaluation and self-evaluation abilities. Results: The results show that participants were surprisingly inaccurate when evaluating themselves. Specifically, most participants overestimated the accuracy of their own performances. Also, we observed a relationship between singing proficiency and self-evaluation ability, as well as the presence of different profiles. Conclusion: In addition to emphasizing that singers are not necessarily their own best judges, this study suggests potential role(s) for self-evaluation (in)accuracy in the development of exceptional skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633.e7-633.e14
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Pitch accuracy—Music evaluation—Classical singers—Illusory superiority

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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