Is musical talent genetic?

Is musical talent genetic? That’s one of those million dollar questions. Many people believe that anyone can be a musician. All it needs is some patience. And lots of practice. Shitloads of it. If you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers: The Story Of Success”, you probably remember the 10,000 hours rule. It means that all you have to do is be persistent, and practice something for 10,000 hours to become proficient in it. And very successful. Whatever area of interest. Including music. When that book came out, all those rigorous music teachers and instructors were nodding. Quite heavily. And now an actual study has appeared on the scene.

Is musical talent genetic?

This new study – published by Miriam Mosing (Sweden) in Psychological Science – also tries to answer the question of “is musical talent genetic”. It’s called the “Swedish Musical Discrimination Test”. is musical talent geneticAnd it has a different answer. The survey took 1,211 pairs of such identical twins who shared all their genes, and 1,358 pairs of fraternal twins who shared half of their genes. They were born between 1959 and 1985. Each participant were asked whether they sang or played any musical instruments. They were also asked to estimate their amount of daily practice they had. The first test was pitch difference recognition (between two notes). The second one was melody difference recognition (four to nine notes melodies). The third one was rhythm difference recognition (five to seven notes of the same pitch, two sequences).

Is musical talent genetic?

Okay, so is musical talent genetic? Let’s get to the results. Out of all the participants, the ones who practiced more didn’t necessarily surpass their siblings who practiced less. Actually, there wasn’t a significant, detectable relationship between the amount of practice time and the above tested musical abilities. Even in a peculiar case of 20,228 hours difference.

Is musical talent genetic?

Does it mean that one should never practice anymore? Of course not. It only means that above a certain amount of practice time, you won’t be able to surpass your own limits. And these limits are genetically determined. You were either born to be a musician or you weren’t. If you were, you need practice as much as feels appropriate. As long as you desire it, progress will inevitably happen. When you feel like you’ve had enough for the day, just stop. Do something else, then get a good sleep. You won’t lose anything. Is musical talent genetic? Yes, it is.

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