Building gifts into musical talents

McPherson, G. E. and Williamon, A. (2015) Building gifts into musical talents. In: The Child as Musician: A Handbook of Musical Development (second edition). Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 340-360. ISBN 9780198744443


This chapter unravels issues surrounding the nature-nurture debate and how this impacts on conceptions of remarkable achievement in music. We describe a framework that distinguishes between domains of ability (gifts) and fields of performance (talent). Giftedness is used to describe individuals who are endowed with natural potential to achieve and talent to describe those who demonstrate superior performance (or superior skills) as a result of some type of systematic training. The chapter describes the complex series of interactions through which natural abilities interact with intrapersonal and environmental catalysts, developmental process, and chance events to form different aspects of musical talent that are unique to individual music learners. Also included is a section on the prevalence, identification and labelling of individuals who can be referred to as musically gifted or talented.

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