Often in the biographies of successful musicians there are lines like: “He played the clarinet from the age of five, and at six he already wrote his first work” – because of this, it begins to seem that the earlier a person begins to learn music, the higher the probability that he will achieve success in this field. However, recent studies have shown that the age at which a person begins to play music is not the only factor of success.
Previously, it was believed that in childhood there is a certain period when the brain is most susceptible to music lessons — and therefore learns it more actively. In fact, everything turned out to be somewhat more complicated: success in music depends much more on the environment in which the child is located, on genetic predispositions, if there are musicians in the family, and on the general musical-active atmosphere around. It is possible, of course, that those who begin to learn music earlier, by the time of active performances, have played more hours of practice.
In order to confirm their hypotheses, scientists from the Swedish Karolinska Institute tested 310 musicians from several local conservatories and music schools for musical talent and success. Also, the participants of the experiment answered questions about how much time they spend on training and when they started it. Another study, STAGE (Study of Twin Adults: Genes and Environment), provided genetic information about participants.
Comparing the data of their own research and STAGE, the researchers found that early initiation of music training affects musical giftedness in both amateur and professional musicians — even taking into account the time spent on practice.
Genetic factors, possibly influencing predisposition and interest in music, also affect the age at which musicians begin to learn music, and their future giftedness.
One explanation for the results of the experiment is that perhaps children who show an early interest in a particular field themselves want to start learning in it as early as possible. In addition, the results can be explained by the fact that in talented and creative families, children are, respectively, in a talented and creative environment from the earliest years — and they are inherited predisposition to certain types of art.