The question about musical talent being derived from genetics versus skilled musical talent and other intellectual or physical fields is raising a never ending discussion. What came first? – The inborn ability or the skilled one. – The chicken or the egg?
Stories like those of Mozart in music or Lionel Messi in football can make us confused. The two masters burst into the world, fascinating all the people around them from very early stages of their lives.
Mozart was only three years old when his extraordinary musical ability was recognized. At the age of five he began to write his early compositions, and also played violin and harpsichord. During his life term, he composed more the 600 works, which most of them are famous and distinguished by their musical qualities.
Although Messi is only 24 years old, he is considered one of the best football/soccer players of all times. At the age of four Messi demonstrated an unusual ability to guide the ball. Soon enough he was also acknowledged by his coaches. In the age of twelve he was accepted to Barcelona, one of the most distinguished football teams. Messi’s list of accolades is almost never ending. His future looks very bright.
But these stories are in a way the end of the story. What happened in the beginning?
Do you think that these masters were born geniuses?
Honing explains about inborn musical abilities. He claims that almost all human beings are musical. Starting from an early stage, three month old babies develop special intonation abilities according to their mother tongue language.
In addition to the ability to distinguish different intonation, he mentioned his special research with newborn babies. He discovered that these newborns react physically to syncopations (non-regular rhythmic patterns). Honing acclaimed that the sense of beat is a common denominator to human beings and animals.
Another Bach Linked-In group member also indicated the importance of the fundamental rhythmic senses. She states that the heart beat and breathing are part of basic essence of human beings and the experience of life.
Honing himself conduct another controversial experiment with his audience. In this experiment, the audience was requested to reconstruct a given tune by showing them the video of the song. He picked one volunteer to answer the question. The identification was perfect. The volunteer recognized the tune precisely by pitch and tempo.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find research about perfect pitch in newborn babies. The reason can be technical because they are very young subjects and their reactions are limited. Maybe newborns can’t have perfect pitch ability yet.
I would be glad to have your information about this kind of research that I couldn’t find.
In any case, although the experiment is very interesting and sparks a discussion about the definition of perfect pitch or absolute pitch, (which I promise to discuss deeply in one of my future posts), it has nothing to do with inborn musical abilities. It determines that these qualities are definitely skilled ones.
Searching the subject of inborn versus learned skills led me to an interesting source. In an article written by Hilary Coon and Gregory Carey, the differentiation between the musical skills of twins was tested. The unambiguous results show that although twins have almost similar genetic origin, the environmental influence is much more dominant than their genetic make-up.
If this is the case, then our job as musical educators, parents and leaders is much more significant than we think and admit. In one of my next posts , I will refer to this wide-spread opinion of my colleagues in the music field.
Finally, in the past few weeks, I received a significant amount of responses in reaction to my blog. I read every comment and I am still arranging them it into different topics, which I will discuss in the future. In order to give you credit and quote your comments properly; especially if you are group member or wrote a comment in the blog itself, please indicate your e-mail and professional website with your comments.
If you are not interested in any of your information being published, please write to me specifically.
I want to acknowledge my colleagues and friends that contributed their significant information to this post and my next posts:
Agnes Mauer, Simone Baroni, Mary Anne Finnemore, John Kiberd, Diana Kirkpatrick, Pauli Maher, Amitavo Roy, Mary Jane Jones, Minnie Villanueva, Karim Elmahmoudi, Shirley Kirsten, Philip Shapiro, Sandy Holland, Ruth Brons, R. Leonardo Helton, Cynthia Morro-Hattal. Michael Gold, Opher Brayer, Davie Chamberlain, Dianah Romig Mellin, Amit Shtriker, Michelle, Leon Van Dyke, Lloyd Masel, Hagit Rosmarin, Samer Hatoum, Ron Floisand, James R. Stewart Jr., Kent Cohea.
Others who were quoted in my present post or in my future posts will be quoted without being mentioned , are invited to send me their permission and I will add their details.
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