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“Is Musical Ability Genetic?”

Many parents of Ensiklomusika Music School’s students have inquired with me this question, and I personally think it is an interesting topic to explore. Do you think musical ability is genetic? Let’s find out what I’ve learned during years of my experience in musical education!





Musical talent is not a quantifiable trait. However, many researchers have agreed upon the fact that early and consistent exposure develops an exceptional musical skill. As we all have known, a child's first societal interaction comes from the parents, followed by other family members. It is as well applicable to music.


Researchers have used modern biomolecular techniques to find the answer to this question; however, the results have proven otherwise. Instead of using a genome-based analysis, they tried to assess one's musical ability through the lens of Absolute Pitch (AP), which is also known as the Perfect Pitch. Absolute Pitch is an ability to identify or recreate a musical note without having learned or been exposed to the tone previously. It is a relatively rare and complex ability, yet a quantifiable trait used to measure musical ability. Through this study, I essentially believe it is an environmentally influenced aspect in a child.


In a study done on 600 musicians in multiple music conservatories, training programs, and orchestras, both early musical training and exposure by parents had proven to call a child "naturally-gifted." The study noted that 40% of the respondents who began musical training at the age of four or younger had reported the possession of AP. As a child age, the researchers noted that their AP possession regressed to as low as 3% among children who began training at nine and older. In other words, early musical training would most likely support the development of AP and musical ability, yet it would not suffice to build strong musical skills.


As the child's initial societal interaction, parents play a significant role in musical exposure towards children. For instance, if both parents are musicians, their children will receive their initial contact with music even during pregnancy. Another study cites research done on conservatory students of different nationalities, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, and American, to prove AP acquisition by conditioning further. Out of 36 Asian students participating in the study, nearly 50% developed AP earlier than the others, and out of 50 non-Asian students, only 18.1% developed AP earlier. The hypothesis rested on the profound tonality differences in East Asian languages, which also could be connected to speech development. Chinese was the first group of students with the earliest AP acquisition.


Additionally, it is also an interesting aspect to explore that AP musicians display a leftward asymmetry of their brain's temporal lobe. The region, also known as planum temporale in Latin, is historically associated with language and auditory processing. Early musical exposure is essential for AP acquisition. However, when the asymmetric within the planum temporale gets determined, it strengthens the possibility of AP genetic regeneration, hence increasing the likelihood of "genetic" musical ability.


While shaping curriculums, classes, and teams of educators in Ensiklomusika Music School, I believe it has to be formed within the same mindset. I try to apply the notion that music is all about consistency. Students who have no musical background in their families have turned out to be exceptionally well in their music.


In Ensiklomusika Music school, I constantly encourage my trial students to realize that learning music is not an instant process. Often, we experience a circumstance where students' parents expect their children to play a song after their first trial class. Meanwhile, I have customized music education's trial class as an introduction between children and their educators, then the foundation of music. As I mentioned above, being able to play a song harmoniously requires a consistent approach and exposure: early exposure and talent help, but consistent practice and prolonged exposure to music ace the game.


Every class in Ensiklomusika Music School comes with a trial class to ensure that every student is comfortable within their environment. Which one are you going to play? Find out how you can grow with us here. You've known which to take? Contact us here.



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