Nature vs. Nurture – Where Does Musical Talent

It is an age old question, whether nature or nurture shapes human beings into the people they become. As modern scientists understand it, most things are a combination of both. Musical talent requires an array of different skills, each of which can be taught and each of which is influenced to varying degrees by our genes.

The Components of Musical Talent

People who are talented with music have a set of different skills they have honed as they relate to music. Some of these are:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Muscle memory
  • Auditory discernment
  • Music reading

No musician would be successful without at least moderately good skills in each of these areas. As you can see, some of these skills are purely learned such as music reading, while others may be more affected by genetics, such as hand-eye coordination. However, all of them require a certain amount of ability given by genes and a lot of practice.


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The “Nature” of Musical Talent

Some things that affect musical talent are known to be genetic. People have different abilities to perform certain motor tasks, for instance, which can have a genetic background. However, most of these small differences are not as important for musicians as they might be for competitive athletes.

It is possible that some people are born more musically gifted than others. This used to be the assumption that was made about extremely talented musicians. However, even if there is the occasional musical prodigy born, there is significant evidence to support the idea that most talented musicians are taught, not born that way.

The “Nurture” of Musical Talent

Evidence from a study done with musicians in their early 20s at a German music school suggests that practice and training are far more important than any talent a person might be born with. This study had teachers group the students in most talented, moderately talented and least talented groups. The main correlation that was found was number of hours of practice time.

Another study found that British school children who were more or less successful at learning an instrument in a musical school could also be separated into groups differentiated by practice hours. There was no difference in the age the children first showed interest in music or rhythm and dance. However, the number of hours of practice invested by children who were relatively successful at learning an instrument was nearly twice as much as those who were fairly unsuccessful.

Determination: More Important Than Either?

Deliberate practice, the process of working to remove errors from performance and improve skills, requires dedication and determination. Most great athletes, artists and performers spend hours every day for years in order to become as good as they are. Whether or not they have the talent, it requires dedication and determination to stick with something that may not be fun or show obvious results for a long period of time.

There is no doubt self motivation plays a large part in whether a student sticks with their new musical hobby or not. However, friends and family who provide the needed support will greatly increases the chances of success for the student.

Nurturing Musical Talent

If determination is important to talent and mostly comes from a deep interest in the subject, then kid’s interest in music is the first step towards helping them become musically talented. Many of the world’s famous musicians came from homes where music was an important and positive part of their daily lives. A child who is exposed to music in a fun and age-appropriate way comes to associate it with positive emotions and is much more likely to be interested in playing music or performing.

A child who loves music may hear a great musician sing or play and decide there and then, that he or she wants to play or sing this same way. This intense, internal motivation is the start of how people become great. They also do need outside support. Parents who are willing to give their children resources such as instruments and lessons will nurture their child’s interest and their talents.

Nobody really knows if genes play an important part in becoming a talented musician or not. However, it is almost certain that they play a less important part than interest, determination, practice, and access to resources. Perhaps some people are born with more musical talent than others but it does not seem to be the deciding factor in who becomes a great musician.

Amanda Williams is a blogger for TakeLessons. Since 2006, TakeLessons has provided safe, affordable and fun singing and music lessons to students of all ages.  Students can find music teachers in over 2,800 cities nationwide, for 38 different types of lessons.

Learning About Myself & Others; Introvert vs Extrovert

I recently was shared an article on It’s My Life about Introvert and Extrovert. I really never gave these two words much thought before, but reading this blog post in the beginning I thought I am more of an extrovert with a bit of introvert qualities at times. Then I read more about introverts and extroverts.

Direct quote from It’s My Life {{totally me}}:

Did you know that extroverts recharge their energy by being around other people? It’s like we feed off the energy being put out. Most extroverts come home from parties buzzing and high on the collective energy they bathed in all night. Introverts on the other hand, are drained by being in public and recharge by being alone.

This may be a big reason why I love going grocery shopping and getting out to the store anytime I can to talk to other adults. I always get a buzz from simply talking to the people in the store, the cashier that waited on me, etc. The buzz from shopping interaction dims faster than that from a party or get together.

Having every area of my life revolve around kids and being inside of my house makes me feel drained. If I were to have more get togethers, friends over, etc I would feel recharged because that social interaction is what helps fuel my energy again. Right now I have noticed my positive energy is diminishing and well of course I partially blame it on my walking back into the past that always diminished my positive energy, I know that it’s because I have certain needs that need to be met. I have needs to be out there, with people, chatting, interacting face to face in order to feel something positive.

Another direct quote {{totally me}} {regarding extroverts}:

Sure, we’re loud and boisterous, but we’re still shy and insecure. We just hide behind our bravado.

This particular blog post has come to me in a time when I am faced with decisions to make again. You see I keep going back to a relationship that I probably shouldn’t be in, nor should he. I keep blaming myself for being so quick to say okay let’s come back together again.  I want to believe that it will work, however, the reason to me why this doesn’t work & drains me is because of the needs I have, as an extrovert . For me, I may find it hard to be with a person 100% like me. I think being with a person who is too close to a personality of mine will create a volatile situation, however, I do enjoy being with someone who enjoys being out and about like I do & loves to socialize. I have had great times with people who are high energy like me, but not sure if the high energy would be TOO much in my already high energy household!

I don’t know what I need in a relationship partner honestly, but I do know what I enjoy and what makes me energized … simply put it’s being able to have friends over for weekend fun. The relationship part of my life is really just a void, I have removed myself from the idea of relationships to get back to me again. Maybe this time I will stick with my gut feeling and stop worrying about hurting people’s feelings!

Gatherings or events outside of my home. Being near people as often as I can with or without kids that allows me to let my ramblings roam free out of my mouth instead of on paper all of the darn time is what I need more of to get back on balance with myself!

So …  the question is .. are you an Extrovert or an Introvert? And if you want hop on over to It’s My Life to read her post as she poses another question and interesting tidbits about this topic!

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