Do You Have Musical Talent?

Is talent something we are born with, or something that can be developed in anyone?  Maybe a bit of both.

David Shenk wrote about this on the the Genius Blog: The Genius in All of Us.

How can we explain the vast differences in musical ability? How can one species produce Paul Simon and William Hung? Are we born with musical talent, or do we develop it? Let’s sort through the research:

* Primitive musicality is, without question, built into our DNA
– Two-day old infants show a preference for some music over others.
– Nearly all infants babble with melody and intonation.

While these early developments can be influenced by outside events, they clearly unfold according to a genetic blueprint.

We cannot say the same for the next phase of development:

* Beyond primitive ability, even basic musical development requires some modicum of encouragement and teaching.
– “Musical development continues beyond the age of 7 or so only in an environment that provides some sort of tutelage.”
– Absolute (“perfect”) pitch is not a genetic accident or random occurrence, but is developed in young childhood under specific external conditions .

Then, to take it to the next level, aspiring musicians need true instruction and a work ethic:

* Advanced musicianship requires methodical training and “deliberate practice”
– “Talent proves of no avail in the absence of thousands of hours of practice distributed over a decade or more.
– The very best professional musicians practice the most and the smartest compared to the next best group of professional musicians, who in turn practice more and better than the third-best group. Top musicians consistently require about ten years and 10,000 hours of practice to achieve the height of their virtuoso skill-level.

For the full article, click here.

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