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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter outlines key elements concerned with individual variability in musical potential, by detailing the degree to which observable differences in music skill acquisition are the result of genetic factors or intrapersonal, environmental and developmental processes, or interactions between each of these. Examples at the extremes of neurodevelopment, including musical savants, children with Williams syndrome and musical prodigies, are discussed to provide an interactive, dynamic explanation of how exceptional achievement in music develops across the lifespan. The chapter includes information on how musical potential has previously been measured, with information showing that aural skills alone are insufficient to predict future success across a full range of musical activities, especially those such as music performance which involve motor skills. This information provides the background necessary for detailing a model of musical potential that explains how natural musical gifts and various forms of environmental stimulation underpin the actualization of musical potential.

Keywords: musical potential, music aptitude, nature–nurture, musical savants, Williams syndrome, musical prodigies, natural musical gifts, talent, expertise, absolute pitch

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