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Musical Ability Hobbies

Hobbies and Musical Ability

Musical ability is a source of enjoyment and is also highly beneficial for our general well-being. Many consider musical ability to be inherited, and themselves to be unmusical. Discouraging past formal musical education might have contributed to this perception. But in fact, we can definitely improve our musical ability, and hobbies are a great opportunity to do so.

Defining Musical Ability

Musical ability is the ability to ‘make sense’ of music […]

Musical Ability | Wiley Online Library

If it feels a bit vague, it’s not just you:

There is little consensus on what exactly constitutes musical ability and how to best measure it.

What is “musical ability” and how do we measure it? | Ohio State University

But if we insist:

Latent variable model comparisons suggest that musical ability is best represented by related but separable pitch, timing, perception, and production factors.

What is “musical ability” and how do we measure it? | Ohio State University

The Benefits of Musical Ability

The obvious benefits of musical ability relate of course to music.

Music ability enables us to produce music. And while developed music ability isn’t required for the enjoyment of music, it can enhance the listening experience with a better understanding and appreciation of music. Maybe similar to wine training and wine appreciation.

But the benefits of musical ability reach far beyond the realm of music, basically everywhere:

Musicians show higher general intelligence, verbal intelligence, working memory and attention skills than non-musicians. Amateurs score in between.

On the Association Between Musical Training, Intelligence and Executive Functions in Adulthood | Frontiers


Scans have identified differences in brain structures between musicians and non-musicians, including neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain to change and adapt, creating new neural connections in response to life experiences.

Does Nature or Nurture Determine Musical Ability? | Harvard Graduate School of Education

Musical ability can’t just sharpen us, it can also keep us sharp:

 sufficient research exists to support the idea that learning musical skills in later life is a promising intervention to offset the age-related cognitive decline.

The Benefit of Musical Training on the Aging Brain | Psychology Today

That’s probably because:

[…] music can activate almost all brain regions and networks, it can help to keep a myriad of brain pathways and networks strong, including those networks that are involved in well-being, learning, cognitive function, quality of life, and happiness.

Why is music good for the brain? – Harvard Health

And that’s probably because:

There seems to be ample evidence that music is as natural for humans as is language.

Musical Ability – ScienceDirect

Can Music Ability Be Improved?

Many tend to believe that musical ability is an inherited trait:

Musical ability is popularly regarded to be innate: one either is or is not born with musical talent.

What Does It Mean to Be Musical? – ScienceDirect

And that they didn’t inherit it:

Indeed, too many adults consider themselves to be “unmusical.”

Musical Ability – ScienceDirect

But, as with any other skill, while genes play a role, they don’t solely determine our musical ability and we can improve it with practice:

Researchers generally agree that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the broader realization of music ability […]

The genetic basis of music ability | Frontiers

Our Past Musical Training Might Have Been Discouraging

We might already have some experience of formal musical training in school. And again, this experience might have us conclude we are unmusical. But it is likely the method of teaching to blame, rather than our potential.

It is argued that much formal education inhibits the development of musical ability through over-emphasis on assessment, creating performance anxiety, coupled with class and sex stereotyping of approved musical activities.

Musical Ability | Wiley Online Library


[…] free exploration of a medium is a necessity for the development of high levels of musicality.

Musical Ability | Wiley Online Library

Hobbies Provide a Great Opportunity to Practice and Improve Our Musical Ability

This is where hobbies come into play. They provide a unique free and mindful environment for practicing and improving our musical ability. Furthermore, The voluntary nature of hobbies can foster commitment and persistence which are required for improving our musical ability.

Musical Ability Hobbies List

Each hobby page is designed to inspire and help you get started.

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