Typically, toddlers love any kind of music. As soon as they hear a tune, their toes start tapping and their bodies start rocking; however, the average toddler doesn't keep tempo, can't sing a note and will probably crash into his friends if he tries to dance along to "Four Little Monkeys." A child who is gifted musically is generally more advanced in these areas. Your little rugrat who can bang out a beat on your pots and pans might just have the makings of a future rock star!
Watch your toddler as he moves. According to an article in the "Digest of Gifted Research" published by the Duke University Talent Identification Program, musically advanced toddlers tend to have a rhythmic way of moving. They might tap their toes, sway or walk in time to music. When you play music together, your musically gifted child will naturally beat a drum in time to the tune or tap a tambourine on beat. According to KidsHealth, the average child can keep time sporadically as he gets closer to age 3, whereas a child with natural musical talent will demonstrate this ability prior to age 3 -- and keep time more often than not.
Listen to your child when he talks about what he hears. Musically gifted children are often more aware of sounds than other children. Your child may talk about noisy cars, flowing water, music coming from the neighbor's house, or music you play in the car.
Test your toddler at home by playing music for him. See if he notices when an instrument is out of tune. You can also play or sing a simple song -- and make a mistake in the melody. A musically gifted child is likely to notice when something is wrong. Ask your child if he can repeat a tune he hears; young children with musical talent can often catch onto a melody easily -- or effectively mimic the sounds of instruments they hear in a tune.
Encourage your child to play instruments. For example, demonstrate how to play the piano -- and then give her some time at the piano to see if she tries to reproduce a melody or beat she hears. She might even surprise you and come up with something wonderfully original!
Evaluate your child with the help of a professional. You can ask a local music teacher to evaluate him, or if you live near a university with a music program, call and see if someone there might evaluate your talented tyke. If your child is particularly talented, you might want to enroll him in music lessons -- and eventually apply to a school that specializes in gifted children.