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The Musical Child - Part 2



Musical intelligence was defined by Howard Gardner, author of Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, as "an individual who likes to sing or hum along to music, appreciates music, may play a musical instrument and remembers song melodies." Children who have an extremely high musical intelligence are prodigies. In this series, we will explore what is means to be "musically gifted," what teachers and parents can do to foster these gifts, and what the the two types of musical giftedness. In this second installment, we explore what teachers and parents can do to help the musical child succeed.


The most basic thing a parent or teacher can do to encourage a musical child is to introduce them to a wide range of music styles, genres, instruments, and eras by listening. According to research from the Al-Anba newspaper, "Parents who want their children to become another Mozart or someone like Stevie Wonder or Vanessa Maw should make them listen to music from the time of birth." However, these people mentioned were all lucky to have both exceptional natural talent beyond most people and an enriching environment, where musicality was encouraged. But, if music is not encouraged children will begin to loose some of their natural talent by the age of eight months. Children's education laboratory coordinator, Professor Gini Safran of Wisconsin College said, "We know that early listening to music helps in developing full musical level."


Parents can help or hinder the development in significant ways. They can be attentive to obsessive. For example, cellist Janos Starker often tells the amusing story of his mother who used to make sandwiches, so he would not have to get up

for a snack. She even bought a parrot and trained it to say, "Practice, Janos, Practice." Pianist Ruth Slezynska tells how her father forced her to practice nine hours per day and would not allow any mistakes." He would hit her at any wrong note. At 15 years old, she understandably suffered a breakdown that ended her career.