Playing a musical instrument – or engaging in any artistic endeavour, for that matter – requires a level of creativity that many people believe is innate, rather than something that can be learned. As a result, one of the first questions that parents ask me is whether their child has the talent necessary to study music.
I believe—and I think most educators would agree—that every child has a certain amount of natural talent that, if nurtured in the right environment, can be developed. However, it is sometimes hard to evaluate the degree of a child’s talent or potential. There are no absolute distinctions between levels of innate musical ability, a subjective matter at best. While some children display astonishing aptitude at a very young age, others may develop at an equally impressive clip with good coaching. Ability in this context is not constant, but rather something that evolves with time and training.
From a pedagogical perspective, teachers typically speak of four types of ability (musical or other):
• Potential: The capacity of every child to learn a certain skill;
• Talent: A natural aptitude for an activity that, when coached, can be successfully developed, i.e. playing the piano, drawing or skating;
• Giftedness: An extraordinary innate capability with respect to person’s intellect and creativity that often ensures outstanding achievements in the areas of
science, music and arts; and
• Genius: An exceptional inborn capacity of intellect, especially in creative and original work e. i. art, music and science.
In this chapter, I explore these categories as well as the various conceptions – and misconceptions – about musical talent.
What is musical potential?
As a professional musician and piano teacher for more than thirty years, I have had the opportunity to observe children across a wide range of ages, music experience and levels of commitment. I want to assure parents that all children, without exception, have the potential to learn to play an instrument proficiently, at a level that will allow them to enjoy the experience of making music. In my view, all children have musical ability. Some students demonstrate obvious musical talent while others need the assistance of an enthusiastic, mindful teacher to help them discover and develop their musical potential. Given that most parents are not professional musicians, they are seldom qualified to accurately evaluate their child’s musicality.
You can get the entire book of Victor Shevtsov – Help Your Child Excel at the Piano