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Are We All Born with Some Degree of Musical Ability?

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

Nature, nurture, or both??

"There are no completely unmusical people, just as there are no totally unintelligent people."- Edwin Gordon

Up to the present day, there are still differences of opinion regarding what musical ability means. Some have a more deterministic perspective, thinking that either one is born with it, or one is not. Others have a more optimistic perspective, claiming that everyone has it and what causes a change is how much nurture they receive later. Lastly, there are those who think it is a combination of nature and nurture. Musical ability is often used as a synonym for musical talent.

When considering the views mentioned above, I lean toward rejecting the more deterministic perspective because this one mentions the possibility of not being born with any musical ability at all. Although the levels of musical ability may vary from individual to individual, everyone possesses some degree of musical ability. “There are no completely unmusical people, just as there are no totally unintelligent people (Gordon, 1987)”.

Gardner's 8 Frames of Mind

Gordon is not alone, his assumption is also supported by Gardner’s 8 Frames of Mind, which includes Musical Intelligence as one of the 8 intelligences. Gardner claims that all humans possess all intelligences in varying amounts, and those multiple intelligences can be nurtured and strengthened, or ignored and weakened.

What Does Musical Intelligence Look Like?

Some of the components that make music an intelligence include pitch, rhythm, timbre and tone. Children’s musical intelligence manifests in their ability to recognize and create the mentioned above. They also have a knack for recognizing patterns. Children with a high level of musical intelligence might learn more easily through the