Models of talent development in music – Part 1
What models of talent development exist in music?
It is quite easy to say a music student is talented, but what factors actually quality someone as talented and is talent innate or something that is developed over time?
Several researchers had tried to address talent development in young people.
Benjamin Bloom (1995) investigated leading musicians, athletes, and scholars. Bloom sought information on the significant factors in their development. He found that much of the talent develop occurred outside of school with activities, mentors, as well as a positive and strong supportive family environment. In essence, the development of the child’s talent would be a part of the family’s lifestyle.
The opportunities available to these children spurred their motivation and allowed them to pursue their interest at more intense levels than could be achieved through school.
In addition, Bloom found that the high level of talent was developed over a long span of time and required a willingness and effort on the part of the child to persist.
Sosniak (1985) investigated 21 concert pianists who were part of Bloom’s study, and identified three stages of development of their talent. Stage one, beginning between 6-8 years of age, was characterised by play, enjoyment, encouragement by parents and a friendly first teacher.
Stage two, occurring around 10-13 years, was a time when the student became more discipline and directed efforts towards development skills, technique, and accuracy of performance. This stage also meant a change in teacher to one who was able to develop the student to a higher level.
Stage three is characterised by a very advanced student, usually in teenage years, who begins to believe that music will form their career or play a significant role in their lives. In this phase the student begin to make decisions regarding musical education which will enhance their future prospects and goals.
In each of these studies, there was no mention of prodigy or musical genius. Talent was simply seen as something which is developed with the right guidance and environment.
Many music teachers and performers, when reflecting back on their musical development, would mostly likely see a similar characteristics in their stages talent development.
Bloom, B. S. (1995). Developing talent in young people. New York: Ballantine.
Sosniak, L. A. (1985). Learning to be a concert pianist. In B. S. Bloom (Ed.), Developing talent in young people (pp. 19-67). New York: Ballantyne.