Gary McPherson: "Musical Prodigies"

  • Date: –11:00
  • Location: Lecture through Zoom (contact Patrik Juslin for link and details)
  • Organiser: Department of Psychology
  • Contact person: Patrik Juslin
  • Seminarium

The Open Seminar in Music Psychology

Professor Gary McPherson, University of Melbourne: "Musical Prodigies"


Abstract
One of the most contentious debates in psychology, education, biology and other related disciplines centres on the source of exceptional ability. To what extent can the remarkable achievements of eminent musicians, intellectuals, visual artists, writers and so on be explained through “nature” (genetic endowment) or “nurture” (the environment)? How can these achievements be identified and fostered? In my presentation, I will address fundamental issues surrounding the nature/nurture debate in music and, in doing so, scrutinize much of the folklore that typically accompanies remarkable achievement in music. Using Françoys Gagné’s differentiated model of giftedness and talent, I will outline a broad structure that distinguishes between domains of ability (gifts) and fields of performance (talent). The bulk of my presentation will provide examples of the natural abilities, environmental and intrapersonal catalysts, and developmental processes that lead to different types of musical talent as represented in the extraordinary rapid development of musical prodigies. The explanation I provide builds on my research across 30+ years as a music educator and researcher that has been devoted to studying children’s musical development and the small pool of children within this population we distinguish as musical prodigies who display extraordinary musical abilities. Dr. McPherson is the Ormond Professor of Music at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and has served as President of the International Society for Music Education.

Gary McPherson: