Musical Intelligence: Definition, Characteristics, and Engaging Developmental Activities

As human beings, music is an important part of our daily lives, and we celebrate every moment with it.

Besides, our lives are full of moments and situations that force us to cherish them with rhythms and melodies, so it covers a big part of our lives. 

The good news is that we don’t need to be professional musicians like Beethoven to understand and use music because we all have musical intelligence.

It is good to know that musical intelligence is one of the eight intelligences based on Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. 

Harvard Gardner believes that our multiple intelligences work together, but they are independent at the same time!

In this article, we are going to discuss “Musical Intelligence.” We will go through its exact definition, characteristics, developmental activities, and more.

What Is the Definition of Musical Intelligence

What is musical intelligence

Musical intelligence is the ability to receive, distinguish, understand, and express sounds in an environment that allows individuals to create, compass, and communicate different meanings through sound and rhythm.

People with high levels of musical intelligence are sensitive to the melodies, tones, and rhythms of every music they listen to.

It is interesting to know that children may show their interest in music when they hear an instrument or if they are born into a musically inclined family; these children are better at developing their musical intelligence.

You may be surprised to know that there are some scientists who believe musical intelligence should not be among the eight types of intelligence because it is talent rather than intelligence. However, Gardner still put this on the list of the multiple intelligences.

Strategies to Develop Musical Intelligence

strategies for musical intelligence

Now that you are familiar with the definition of musical intelligence, it is time to check some of the most common strategies used by people with developed musical intelligence. Knowing them can help you develop such intelligence in you or your kids. 

Playing musical instruments

One of the best strategies is to learn and play a musical instrument, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a percussion, wind, or string because people with musical intelligence are fast learners and can become experts easily. 

Associations of melodies with different concepts

Have you ever seen people who can create interesting melodies for different concepts with their mouths? Inventing a melody is among the best strategies that help people to develop their musical intelligence.

Participating in bands, orchestras, or choirs

participate in bands

People with high levels of musical intelligence belong to musical associations because being in such communities helps them develop their intelligence while hanging out with people with the same interests and skills.

Listening to background music to work or study

You probably have good musical intelligence if you are among those who better perform while listening to music in the background.

One of the best strategies to develop musical intelligence is to listen to music while studying, working, or chilling. Doing so is also helpful in improving your concentration.

Songs and rhymes

If you want to improve your musical intelligence, you can try to better understand songs and rhymes in your environment to perform better in what you are doing. You can listen to songs carefully to better distinguish every note and rhyme to get better results. 

What Do People With Musical Intelligence Do For a Living?

jobs for people with musical intelligence

As mentioned earlier, musical intelligence enables people to create, reflect, and identify music as songwriters, vocalists, and musicians do. Therefore, these individuals are able to make good money with different jobs that we listed the most common ones in the section below.


We all know great songwriters out there who write about anything in the world. These people usually need a pen and a piece of paper to write a song about one of their memories, experiences, or loved ones.

If you want to make more money as a songwriter, you need to write as many songs as you can to come up with the best song you ever created and then sell it at a good price.

Music Teacher

Have you ever thought about how a music teacher can change a student’s academic journey? These people can have the most important role in the lives of those students who are passionate about music.



DJs have become very popular these days, and you usually see them playing cool music almost everywhere, at a bar, beach, restaurant, etc.

Individuals with high musical intelligence prefer DJing because it allows them to mix different songs and beats to create unique art, which convinces people to jump up on the floor and dance.


One of the most important things that every singer needs to be “That singer” is to have proper musical intelligence because a good singer must easily identify notes, beats, rhymes, and the melody.

If you love singing while you are taking a shower or doing your daily tasks, it is better to take this opportunity to take music classes and catch your dream!

Music Producer

As the name suggests, music production is something that only people with high levels of musical intelligence can do; however, learning and becoming a music producer is easy because of the great resources.

Therefore, one of the best jobs for people with good musical intelligence who love playing music, making a song, and recording samples.

The mentioned items are among the most common jobs that a person with high musical intelligence can do, but of course, there are more opportunities that you can find based on your desire and interests.

Characteristics of Musical Intelligence

Characteristics of Musical Intelligence

People with musical intelligence have certain characteristics that we listed the most common ones in this section.

1- They think musically 

These people mostly think musically because they love to mix their feelings and thoughts with beats, melodies, tones, and rhythms.

2- They compose and write music

writing music

They are creative and innovative individuals who love to use their intelligence and create new melodies and music, so you usually find them while composing and writing music. 

3- They play musical instruments

One of the biggest characteristics of these people is that they are able to read sheet music easily, so they are mainly good at playing musical instruments.

It is good to know that they usually play multiple instruments, such as guitar, piano, violin, etc., so they can easily determine if a melody is out of tone or not.

4- They pick apart musical elements

As mentioned before, these people are creative, so they love to discover the creativity in every piece of music. That is why they pick apart musical elements to know the sounds, tones, and rhythms of each music they listen to. 

5- They listen to music all the time 

listen to music

When you love something, you always want to have it with you. People with musical intelligence are thirsty for music, so it’s a great part of their daily life.

They listen to music to do their tasks, eat, shower, relax, and more. The funny part is that they usually hum or sing the song they are listening to!

6- They love and appreciate music

According to what was mentioned previously, the greatest feature of these people is that they love and appreciate music in all aspects because music calms their souls and makes them feel better.

Best Activities to Develop Musical Intelligence

best activities for musical intelligence

If you think you or your child has musical intelligence and want to develop it, the good news is that there are some engaging activities that will help you along the way.

Playing musical instruments

Learning and playing musical instruments is one of the best ways to develop musical intelligence. You can start with a simple instrument, and if you don’t know the right instrument for your child, you can use drums, tambourines, and rhythm sticks.

Moreover, creating your own instrument using everyday materials is a great way to be creative while improving your musical skills.

Going to concerts

Going to concerts is a fun activity and is a great opportunity to discover new sounds and rhythms that help you to improve your or your child’s musical intelligence. 

When you go to concerts or music events or take your child with you, it enables you to get inspired by other musicians, which leads to developing musical talents.

Watching musical performances

watching musical performance

Watching different musical performances helps to improve listening skills and enables you to better identify notes and tunes.

Note that watching such performances where great musicians play different instruments helps you or your children to learn faster and easily get inspired and motivated.

Listening to different kinds of music

If you want to do a favor to yourself, you need to stop listening to only one type of music. Remember that to improve your musical intelligence; you must know the types of music and what activity is better than enjoying the experience of listening to different kinds of music.

Playing musical games

Another great engaging activity to develop musical intelligence is participating in games that include identifying notes, sounds, the name of the song, etc.


Almost all people believe they have great musical intelligence, but in some cases, they are not right because people with musical intelligence get easily motivated while listening to a song, which can greatly affect their mood and feelings.

Note that, as mentioned before, scientists still believe that musical intelligence should not be categorized into multiple intelligences because it’s a talent, not intelligence. 

According to this article, what do you think? Do you think it’s intelligence or a talent that some people have?

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