Intelligence is a marvel that creates much controversy. Researchers and scientists have attempted to define intelligence with multiple descriptions. Cultural differences also define one’s intelligence; what is considered “smart” in one community might be considered “foolish” in another. Ultimately, intelligence is the ability to process complex ideas, reason and solve problems, but there exist different types of intelligence.

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Scientists identify verbal, mathematical, bodily, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, and these intelligences vary from person to person. Then there is musical/rhythmic intelligence. Some people are simply more musically inclined than others, which lends to the diversity of musical talent we experience. Similar to the other intelligences, musical intelligence presents itself in multiple ways. Musical, multiple intelligence and other factors contribute to the diversity of thinking, innovation and rich cultural experiences that are part of the human condition.

Musical, Multiple Intelligence, and the Human Condition

Identifying “true” intelligence presents a number of problems. For example, people who science considers “autistic savants” – people who show marked delays in brain development – generally have intelligence quotients, or IQs, below 70, which usually indicates mental retardation. However, autistic savants also show musical, multiple intelligence and other characteristics that reach far beyond “normal” brain functioning. For example, Anthony Thomas “Tony” DeBlois plays 20 instruments, received a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music and graduated magna cum laude. Mr. DeBlois is an autistic savant who plays roughly 8,000 compositions from memory alone and displays musical, multiple intelligence and academic excellence.

Recognizing Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence

Musical expression is a natural form of human communication; however, some people perform and recognize music more instinctively than others. People who show some specific musically inclined characteristics possess musical intelligence. For example, the young child who displays an inborn understanding of rhythmic flow most likely possesses musical intelligence. Researchers define musical/rhythmic intelligence as a person’s ability to easily create musical timbre, tone, rhythm and pitches. People who possess this gift can recognize patterns, easily recall melodies and understand musical structure.

Musical Intelligence Activities

People possess more than one, simple form of intelligence; and encouraging and exercising multiple intelligences through focused activities helps to develop individual intelligences. Musical intelligence activities provide students with the chance to learn, practice and apply music theories. Students can use musical intelligence activities to enhance their understanding of tone, rhythm, melodies and timbre. Some important musical intelligence activities include creating rhythmic patterns, humming and singing in a group, testing multiple instruments and learning the musical scale.

Taking a Musical Intelligence Test

The musical intelligence test seeks to identify a student’s ability to express music, distinguish the sounds made by different instruments or demonstrate sensitivity to melody, rhythm and tone. Taking a musical intelligence test provides several benefits. Students can find out if a career in music would benefit them. Students may also find out why they are musically inclined. Ultimately, a combination of musical intelligence activities and a musical intelligence test can help students better understand and appreciate an age-old form of human communication.

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The theory of musical, multiple intelligence and other forms of human learning activities present a number of modern problems. Defining intelligence is difficult and many people create a conflict in the scientific definition of intelligence. Autistic savants prove that defining intelligence may not be possible; they represent two extremes on the intelligence scale that exist in the same mind. Musical intelligence reveals itself in multiple ways and intelligence is developed over a time. Students, who display forms of musical intelligence, including tonal and rhythmic identification, may benefit from musical intelligence activities.

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