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Multiple Intelligences Information Musical

  • Jun 9, 2010
  • Dianna Babcock & Cheryl Henningsgaard

“The Music Lover”

Professor Howard Gardner, Harvard University has developed a way to describe intelligence that is not based on one fixed number placed on a bell curve, testing primarily using only two areas of intelligence, but as a developmental emergence of eight specific skill areas: Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Mathematical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist, Verbal-Linguistic, and Existential. Multiple Intelligence Theory (MI) is based on the importance of how a specific area might emerge and develop with another area. Gardner believed that Musical Intelligence is one of the first areas of intelligence to emerge in young children (giving music a strong appeal), possibly based on the maternal heartbeat, and the human condition for rhythm to calm, soothe, motivate, regulate, and assist cognitive development.

Thomas Armstrong described each area of intelligence, based on MI Theory, and how learning takes place or is enhanced through the specific skill areas, in Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. Armstrong writes, “Children gifted in musical intelligence love to sing and hum. They create their own melodies and rhythms. When they hear music, they immediately begin moving with it. They play musical instruments at a young age. They have an innate response to music that goes beyond technical proficiency in playing an instrument. They are able to distinguish pitches and timbres. They may have a good ear, demonstrating memory of tonal and rhythmic patterns. They may be able to improvise and/or compose on an instrument. They may also be sensitive to nonverbal sounds in the environment, such as crickets chirping or machines whirring. These children need to have opportunities to learn through the world of sound.”

Multiple Intelligence Theory gives strong support of enhancing learning through music. Music motivates young children. Steady beat and melodic contours enhance and attract attention and response. Combining music with literature uses many different skill areas described by MI Theory, including:

  • Bodily-Kinesthetic - feeling the instrument in your hands while keeping a steady beat
  • Verbal-Linguistic - rhyme in music, song lyrics
  • Interpersonal - creating social opportunities through music
  • Mathematical - finding and feeling the patterns in music
  • Intrapersonal - music makes a person feel a certain way
  • Naturalist- playing instruments created with wood, or strumming an instrument for a specific song
  • Existential- world music and creating music with and for people
  • Based on MI Theory, music is a power teaching tool to enhance other areas of learning.


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