A study conducted at the University of Amsterdam could overturn one of the basic tenets of the science of music: that musical training is the only way to develop musical ability. According to these researchers, the simple act of listening to music develops some amount of musical ability within the brain. All it needs is exposure to that type of music.
“More and more labs are showing that people have the sensitivity for skills that we thought were only expert skills,” explained Henkjan Honing, a researcher behind the study to Science Daily. According to the publication, “the UvA-study shows that listeners without formal musical training, but with sufficient exposure to a certain musical idiom… perform similarly in a musical task when compared to formally trained listeners.” One of the first to include musicians and non-musicians of varying ages, the study also showed that subjects showed more competence creating music in genres with which they were familiar.
The researchers conclusion — that listening to music helps one understand how it is made — seems obvious, but could be a boon for the massive market for toys that turn babies into Einstein by exposing them to Mozart.