What makes a musical prodigy?

Is it nature or nurture? Is it biological, magic or a quirk?

One of the musical prodigies involved in the BRAMS study in Canada into the cognitive predispositions for musical genius explained the mixture that she believes contributed to her extraordinary musical ability. “Our success is like the three legs of a grand piano,” says Sarah. “The first leg is our teachers who always push us, the second is our parents who give us unconditional love and unconditional support, and the third is ourselves.”

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But Prof Peretz believes otherwise and explained that “When it comes to understanding musical prodigies, Peretz says there is too much emphasis on nurture, not nearly enough on nature.” She believes cognitive science “is the only way” to understand what is really allowing young musicians to play at a level that appears almost impossible.

The big question is, by studying musical prodigies, do we run the risk of killing the mystery of music? If you had what you perceived to be a god-given or magical gift, would you want to know where it originated from in your brain?

Read more here

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