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Friday, April 30, 2010

Eleven Plus and Inheritance

In my second year of teaching as a primary school teacher my headmaster said to me: “You listen to music. You take the choir.” He then walked away. Two days later I was the choir master to 675 children in the music session after assembly.

Behind every good man is a better woman. Mrs Marion Conacher in this case. She took me under her wing. We dispensed with a baton – as we agreed that this was beyond me. In time choir and the school’s singing improved. I was never sure if progress happened in spite of me or because!

Professor Carl Seashore, at the University of Iowa, separated music in pitch, time, consonance, rhythm and tonal memory. The components were then tested against competent musicians, aspiring but mediocre musicians and a random sample of the general public.

It was found that training in music did not make much difference in the test results. The professor concluded that inheritance is an important factor in the musical abilities shown in the most competent musicians.

The results also showed that aptitude in specific musical element was not correlated. Just because someone was good at pitch did not mean that they would also be good at rhythm. It is possible to have good pitch and poor tonal memory – or superior rhythm accompanying poor pitch.

Just because your child is able to do analogies does not mean that he or she will be able to find hidden words. It all makes sense doesn’t it?

(In my case just because I liked music did not mean that I would be a good conductor for four years!)

If this rather tenuous premise about lack of correlation in different types of music is correct then some families may need to be wary the genes they pass onto their children. Imagine if it was the mother’s fault that their child could not do analogies 0- but the father’s fault for hidden words. Poor eleven plus child!

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