All humans are musical. In that sense, musical ability is genetic. We all have musical potential. But like all genes, our musical potential reacts in a dynamic relationship with the environment (no matter what age we are). There is no nature OR nurture, it’s always nature AND nurture. Here’s a great and adorable example: Two-year-old Khaliyl Iloyi rapping with his dad, Femi. Little dude’s got some skills! And he got those skills not because he’s got some natural ability, but because he’s growing up in a musically rich environment.
Prasad Upasani is an Indian classical singer who I interviewed about practice for The Practice of Practice. He called it samskar, and said it means “an unconscious influence in music.” Just like Khaliyl shows us below. Thing is, there were many other world-class musicians I spoke with who didn’t have rich musical childhoods. They can still rip it up. So a rich musical childhood isn’t essential to be a good musician, but it certainly doesn’t hurt, and it’s a ton of fun, as you can see below. Play music with your kids!
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