Understanding the concept of being born with the ability to play music is somewhat of a mystery. There is enough evidence to suggest that music is as natural to humans as language.
Oxford Dictionary defines ability as noun. /əˈbɪlət̮i/ (pl. abilities) 1[singular] ability to do something the fact that someone or something is able to do something.
Over the past century there has been a number of attempts to devise a scientific test to measure the ability of musical potential, which would inevitably save parents and carers the expense of forking out money for lessons, But do any of these tests hold any scientific evidence?
'One of the main scientific test to measure the ability of potential musicians in the UK was Mills Group Tests of Musical Ability which used psychometric techniques which tries to find the limits of a persons hearing, which implies the better the persons hearing, the better there musical ability' (2002). 'These tests were somewhat flawed due to non musical persons, scoring sometime higher than their musician counterparts.' (1938)
'All children have musical ability, arguably some more than others. However the 'Ability' comes from the stimulating experiences that the child receives from the home environment from an early age' (2002). Playing fun and stimulating musical games, or watching musical performances from parents or older siblings, will enhance that Childs ability to have intense positive experiences with music.
Hopefully, with growing technology and more funding for research, we could devise a scientific test, which could possibly measure a Childs musical ability, Until then, We, As teachers and parents/carers will have to just provide a stimulating musical environment for children to enhance there ability and to enjoy what they do.
Remember: All children should have access to music lessons, even if you think the don't have the 'Natural Ability' too play an instrument. They do! Give them a chance.
Seashore, C. E. (1938). The Pyschology of Music. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Geldard, E., McPherson, G. and Parncutt, R. (2002). The science and psychology of music performance. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press, pp.4,10.