I gotta say that I was pretty excited to get my first email for this blog, Christopher Aruffo from We Hear and Play. He had the same reaction to the Washington Post article on ear training as I did. He told me of his newest project which is a translation of a German perfect pitch training system. I was surprised to see that this program's creator is also Japanese.
It reminded me of my time at USC for grad school. In my theory classes all of the Japanese international students threw off the curve for the listening quizzes because they all had perfect pitch. On the flip side of that, they usually had to learn how the pitches functioned, while the American trained musicians had that down.
I, on the other hand, didn't understand anything! All I could do was sing. I played violin in elementary school, but stopped because I got tired of holding the instrument up. In middle school, I played cello. I loved it because it was big enough to support my weight if I fell asleep during practice. In college, I had one year of piano and a semester of guitar. From my experience, one must learn an instrument to learn music theory outside of a boring theory course.
I can now admit that my hesitation for all of the instruments are due to my sweaty hands. I'm no longer embarrassed, but like most folks, I wish I hadn't wasted those opportunities.