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IS MUSICAL TALENT A REAL THING?



Why do we teach music? Because music is for everyone and our goal is to help our students discover the musicians they were born to be! As us, you have probably heard someone saying something like “my daughter has so much talent for music” or “my friend is musically gifted”, but is that so? Are some people just born to be musicians and others not? In short, no, that isn’t true. Although those ideas are fascinating, they are also just that: ideas, or myths people grew to believe.

When a child speaks with ease no one says “that child has a talent for speaking”, but when they sing beautifully that is the first thing that comes to mind and why is that? Just like with speaking, singing or being “musical” comes from exposure to music. Children speak because they hear us speaking, they walk because they see us walking, and they will sing for the same reason. Sure, as we grow older, some people seem to be “more musical” than others, but can that be an inborn talent or gift?


Although one could argue that some people process music in their brains faster than others, the same is true for math, language and any other topic you can think about. When any aspect of learning is studied, the conclusion is usually in the lines of “people learn differently” and that is something we need to consider when we think about music. If a person was never exposed to that thing that their brains understand so easily, would they magically be able to do that? If someone has never seen a piano before, could they just touch it and start performing a Mozart piece? I believe we can all agree that is not possible and the reason is simple: if that person doesn’t know what Mozart sounds like, if they’ve never seen a piano before, they wouldn’t have the prerequisite to do that simply because knowledge comes from experience, not from inborn skills.


With early childhood music education becoming more and more present since the 1970’s many generations of children have had the opportunity to grow up experiencing music from birth and that can certainly have an impact in one’s ability to “feel” musical. But formal music lessons are not the only thing that can help with that. Experiencing music at home with your family growing up weather being it by singing with your parents, listening to music with your siblings or even making music together is also a wonderful way to develop a child’s musical skills. Sure, maybe you won’t know what a quarter note is, but if you know how it feels in your body, once someone explains to you what it is you can quickly make sense of that concept.


Now, what if you didn’t have any of that growing up? Does that mean you don’t have musical talent and therefore should not be a musician? Absolutely not. All it means is that you might need a different class structure or teaching approach so you can learn what you feel is missing and grow from there. Music is like a language, we can learn it at any point in life and there is always more to learn about it, all we need to do is to begin and to practice, everything else comes with time. The only thing that can determine that you won't be a musician is never trying to learn music, as so many things in life, if you try it, and you work on it, there is no reason not to succeed.

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