Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Harvard University psychologist Howard Gardner, author of Multiple Intelligences, believes that human beings possess nine intelligences, including the “musical intelligence,” “bodily kinesthetic intelligence,” and “logical- mathematical intelligence.” Children possess a natural awareness and sensitivity to musical sounds. They explore music with more spontaneity than any other age group, and they venture forward into music and movement activities with their voices, their bodies, and their emotions. The whole child is involved. The child’s affective, cognitive, and psychomotor responses to a musical encounter are the hallmark of creativity. Gardner (1973) provides us with a very perceptive observation that paints a lovely picture of children and their music:
The child attending to a piece of music or a story listens with his whole body. He may be at rapt attention and totally engrossed; or he may be swaying from side to side, marching, keeping time, or alternating between such moods. But in any case, his reaction to such art objects is a bodily one, presumably permeated by physical sensations (pp. 152–153)
This intelligence involves the ability to perceive, produce, and appreciate pitch (or melody) and rhythm and to appreciate the forms of musical expressiveness. Composers, performers, musicians, conductors, and “the child attending to a piece of music” all possess a great deal of musical intelligence. Conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, composer and performer Ray Charles, classical composer Igor Stravinsky, conductor Zubin Mehta, the world’s “First Lady of Song” Ella Fitzgerald, renowned 20-century pianist Arthur Rubinstein, and guitarists and songwriters James Taylor and Eric Clapton are all examples of individuals with immense musical intelligence.
The ability to control one’s body movements and to handle objects skillfully are the core components of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Gardner specifies that bodily intelligence is used by dancers, choreographers, athletes, mimes, surgeons, craftspeople, and others who use their hands and bodies in a problem-solving kind of way. Classic examples of individuals whose skills are embodied in this form of intelligence include American dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey; Isadora Duncan, the pioneer dancer of this century; Katherine Dunham, the first choreographer and dancer to bring African dance to the American stage; Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, the great silent clowns of the past; and contemporary masters of humorous characterizations, such as Robin Williams and Bill Cosby. Athletes like Venus and Serena Williams and Michelle Kwan also excel in grace, power, and accuracy.
© ______ 2005, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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