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#1478365 - 07/21/10 08:32 AM Can a prodigy be "made"?  
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Hello users of pianoworld!

I may seem very ignorant and don't know what I'm talking about, but I was just thinking. One generally accepted definition of a prodigy is a person who, by the age of 10, displays expert proficiency in a field usually only undertaken by adults. Well, it that's true, then that must mean that it can be made. Do you understand what I'm saying? If you start at age 2, by the time you're 12 or 10 and have been playing some 8-10 years, of course you're going to be very talented. It seems like prodigies can be formed. What do you think?

Please, no hateful comments as I am only fourteen. I just want opinions. I was just thinking. Because I already know I sound stupid!

Last edited by Brooke Taylor; 07/21/10 09:24 AM.

Currently working on - Ballade No.1 in G minor Opus 23 by Chopin and Un Sospiro by Liszt
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#1478376 - 07/21/10 09:03 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Brooke Taylor]  
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You don't sound stupid at all. A little defensive, perhaps. grin

Most 'prodigies' are made, in the sense that their parents play a large role in structuring the environment in which they develop. I suspect the number of piano prodigies who emerge from an environment in which non-musical parents simply allow their children to do just whatever they want is quite small. Most of the ten year olds who can play difficult adult repertoire with a reasonably adult sound have received very specialized training and nurturing from roughly age three or four.

Note that I have not emotionalized the issue. I have said nothing about 'chaining children to the bench' or 'destroying their childhood.' People often dismiss the accomplishments of these children with simple expressions of this sort and a dismissive wave of the hand. In my experience, prodigies are not tortured freaks. They are usually very focussed children who grow up in an environment that rewards that focus.

Lastly, you cannot ignore innate characteristics. Every child who is put in front of a piano at age three will not emerge seven years later playing the Revolutionary Etude sounding like a pro. It's a rare child who can sit still and focus on complex abstract tasks at a very young age. There is a tremendous amount of selection going on here.

#1478385 - 07/21/10 09:20 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Prodigy can be made, but artist cannot be made. Of course when we hear the word 'prodigy', we assume nowadays it's a young kid who have amassed insane amount of repertoire and have performed substantially. The problem with this definition is instead we are using the speed of learning as yardstick. Very few of these 'prodigies' actually have innate abilities to bring special insights into the music they are learning. But those who can went on to become great musicians such as Stephen Hough.Perhaps one day Lang Lang, Sudbin or Yuja might achieve such point, but only time will tell.

Last edited by CWPiano; 07/21/10 09:22 AM.

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#1478390 - 07/21/10 09:29 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: CWPiano]  
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I think that somewhere in the mix, talent has to be accounted for. Talent can be defined as genetics or a predisposition to be able to process music easier than most, or what have you. While I do think that every child who takes piano lessons and has the combination of a good teacher and parental support (not pressure, mind you) then that child will have the best chances of learning piano. However, this will not make them a prodigy. I do not think a prodigy can be made without the talent factored in.


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#1478391 - 07/21/10 09:32 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: CWPiano]  
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Originally Posted by CWPiano
Prodigy can be made, but artist cannot be made. Of course when we hear the word 'prodigy', we assume nowadays it's a young kid who have amassed insane amount of repertoire and have performed substantially. The problem with this definition is instead we are using the speed of learning as yardstick. Very few of these 'prodigies' actually have innate abilities to bring special insights into the music they are learning. But those who can went on to become great musicians such as Stephen Hough.Perhaps one day Lang Lang, Sudbin or Yuja might achieve such point, but only time will tell.
I think there are many prodigies whose "innate abilites to bring special insights into music" are incredibly high. Three would be Conrad Tao, Evgeny Kissin, and Haochen Zhang.

There is no exact definition of prodigy. I think only is the most obvious cases(Menuhin, Hofmann, Mozart etc.)would most everyone agree.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 07/21/10 10:51 AM.
#1478395 - 07/21/10 09:41 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Oops, I totally forgotten about Kissin.

The problem with the society nowadays we cheapen the value of the words 'prodigy' and 'talent'. Like what I said these two words are now thrown around so casually that I think it is becoming detrimental to whoever the label is being attached to.





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#1478397 - 07/21/10 09:42 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Brooke Taylor]  
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Originally Posted by Brooke Taylor


I may seem very ignorant and don't know what I'm talking about, but I was just thinking. One generally accepted definition of a prodigy is a person who, by the age of 10, displays expert proficiency in a field usually only undertaken by adults. Well, it that's true, then that must mean that it can be made. Do you understand what I'm saying? If you start at age 2, by the time you're 12 or 10 and have been playing some 8-10 years, of course you're going to be very talented. It seems like prodigies can be formed. What do you think?

Although most prodigies have put in a lot of time practicing, I don't think time is the only requirement. Without great talent also musical prodigies wouldn't exist. Even if one is just speaking of technical skill(which I wasn't), I think time and endless hours of practicing can only go so far without talent.

And in most fields, there are such thing as prodigies, so time is not an issue at all. The major fields with prodigies are music, chess, and mathematics.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 07/21/10 09:48 AM.
#1478399 - 07/21/10 09:49 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: CWPiano]  
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Originally Posted by CWPiano
Oops, I totally forgotten about Kissin.
And hundreds more IMO.

#1478408 - 07/21/10 10:11 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Brooke Taylor]  
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Originally Posted by Brooke Taylor
I may seem very ignorant and don't know what I'm talking about


This has never prevented me from posting on PW.

I would think that the important thing for prodigies is that they are properly nurtured by parents and teachers. That they aren't pushed, but just provided the time and environment to grow at their own pace.

#1478418 - 07/21/10 10:31 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Dear Piano*Dad,

I completely agree with you. Without talent, like the others said, then of course there is no prodigy. But that still might mean that they could still be formed. With endless hours of practice, and talent already, couldn't any talented young child "become" a prodigy? Excuse me if I am not making sense here, it's hard to put my thoughts down through words. But, I think you get the point! Thanks for answering!

- Brooke


Currently working on - Ballade No.1 in G minor Opus 23 by Chopin and Un Sospiro by Liszt
#1478428 - 07/21/10 10:48 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Brooke Taylor]  
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My piano teacher used to tell me "Genuis is 1% inspiration and 99% persperation," trying to make me believe that it doesn't matter what talent you were born with,you just have to work hard enough. However, I never believed her because one of her other students, who is a probably a piano genius, practiced the same amount as me and still progressed like 3 times faster. That told me that inborn talent has a lot to do with it. I think the percentages are more like 50/50. If you're born with 0 inspiration, you have to work 100% more.

#1478441 - 07/21/10 11:15 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]  
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I am staying out of the prodigy discussion. My own teacher is getting me to focus on the perspiration bit.. for a reason I am sure.

But I wanted to let PLUS and anyone else interested know that Haochen is performing at Avery Fisher Hall on the 30th July. He is playing Chopin Preludes in a pre-concert recital.I am actually going to the 8pm concert that night which is how I found out about his recital, but I am looking forward to hearing him play. I would have preferred to hear him play Mozart, especially that this the Mostly Mozart festival, and I am sick of the preludes.. But I am sure he will be interesting. It is odd that he is not adevertised though. I guess they do not announce the pre-concert recitals independently.

#1478448 - 07/21/10 11:31 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Brooke Taylor]  
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Originally Posted by Brooke Taylor
Dear Piano*Dad,

I completely agree with you. Without talent, like the others said, then of course there is no prodigy. But that still might mean that they could still be formed. With endless hours of practice, and talent already, couldn't any talented young child "become" a prodigy? Excuse me if I am not making sense here, it's hard to put my thoughts down through words. But, I think you get the point! Thanks for answering!

- Brooke
Impossible to answer without a precise definition of "talent" and "prodigy". And I don't think there is such a thing as a precise, measurable definition of those words. I think all one can say is that it takes talent and practice to become a prodigy.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 07/21/10 07:29 PM.
#1478483 - 07/21/10 12:26 PM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Brooke Taylor]  
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Well, first you must understand that prodigies, in no way, compare to an adult pianist. Prodigies are only considered prodigies because they are better at something (I assume we're talking about piano?)than all the kids around them.

Prodigies are formed, just like everyone else, with genes x environment. It's the combination of nature and nurture. Kids must have supportive parents or mentors that push them; however, the mentors should praise and encourage whether they succeed or fail. The kid must have a great teacher, the parents must be on their toes to sit them at the piano for a few hours a day, and they must have a lot of luck.

I'm going to post another reply, because I have more to say, and for some reason the reply box messes up when I type a long message.

#1478487 - 07/21/10 12:32 PM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Afterthought]  
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People have already mentioned this, but I'll add more information on it.

Contrary to popular belief, prodigies usually turn out to be rather average adults. This is because humans improve when the environment demands them to improve. If you're a prodigy and better than all the kids around you, then there is no room for improvement. Therefore, the prodigy doesn't learn how to improve and soon all the other kids surpass him. They basically burn out and lived their brief years of greatness when...it really didn't even matter. Wouldn't it be better to be amazing when you're older instead of young? That's the problem with prodigies. (And the fact that they rely too much on their parents, most of the time.)

If you are further interested in this topic, there are many books about it, along with books about music and the brain in general. It is a very popular and interesting topic.

#1478624 - 07/21/10 04:46 PM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Andromaque]  
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Dear Andromaque,

If you do not want to join this discussion, then why did you bother replying to it? Please don't answer my questions if you have no intention on even staying on the topic. Thank you.

- Brooke


Currently working on - Ballade No.1 in G minor Opus 23 by Chopin and Un Sospiro by Liszt
#1478627 - 07/21/10 04:53 PM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Brooke Taylor]  
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Dear Brooke
Please accept my deepest apologies. Carry on, prodigiously!

PS. WHo si the guy in your avatar

#1478633 - 07/21/10 05:09 PM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]  
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Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto
My piano teacher used to tell me "Genuis is 1% inspiration and 99% persperation," trying to make me believe that it doesn't matter what talent you were born with,you just have to work hard enough. However, I never believed her because one of her other students, who is a probably a piano genius, practiced the same amount as me and still progressed like 3 times faster. That told me that inborn talent has a lot to do with it. I think the percentages are more like 50/50. If you're born with 0 inspiration, you have to work 100% more.


How do you know the "prodigy" didn't simply practice "better", more efficiently, than you?

#1478634 - 07/21/10 05:10 PM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Andromaque]  
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Prodigy = 90% nature & 10% nurture. Or something like that. Most prodigies are 'wired' that way. smile


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#1478681 - 07/21/10 06:54 PM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: moscheles001]  
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Originally Posted by moscheles001
Originally Posted by Brooke Taylor
I may seem very ignorant and don't know what I'm talking about


This has never prevented me from posting on PW.



I agree, that has never stopped you from posting before here...I am truly kidding. I am of the same sentiment. I sometimes, if not always feel pretty ignorant.

#1478696 - 07/21/10 07:24 PM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Andromaque]  
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Dear Andromaque,

He's Jonathan Rhys Meyers. He plays in my favorite movie.


Currently working on - Ballade No.1 in G minor Opus 23 by Chopin and Un Sospiro by Liszt
#1478706 - 07/21/10 07:35 PM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: eweiss]  
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Originally Posted by eweiss
Prodigy = 90% nature & 10% nurture. Or something like that. Most prodigies are 'wired' that way. smile


Exactly. Thats what makes them prodigies...they are hard-wired at the factory with talent for the expertise in the field in which they excell.

"Prodigy: A highly talented child or youth". Merriam-Webster online dictionary

"Talent: the natural endowments of a person; a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude ". Merriam-Webster online dictionary


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#1478714 - 07/21/10 07:47 PM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: rocket88]  
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If you truly want to understand conceptions of 'prodigy' there is a literature out there that is approachable.

An example:

Child Prodigies: A distinctive form of giftedness

I suspect Monica K. could also inform the discussion from direct professional reading.

#1478849 - 07/22/10 12:50 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Brooke Taylor, according to what you've said about yourself, you are probably the most talented pianist of all time, let alone a prodigy.

#1478893 - 07/22/10 02:27 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: cast12]  
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If you can train seals to do amazing things, why not children? Yeah, I know, seals have the advantage of not being human, but still...


#1478946 - 07/22/10 07:29 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: wr]  
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I'm training my children to balance balls on their noses. The longer they can do it, the more fish I give them. Next comes playing "Three Blind Mice" on the bulb-horns.
laugh

#1478988 - 07/22/10 08:28 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: wr]  
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Originally Posted by wr
If you can train seals to do amazing things, why not children? Yeah, I know, seals have the advantage of not being human, but still...



and as anyone who has had children likely will tell you, this can be a big advantage indeed. grin

#1479009 - 07/22/10 09:06 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: moscheles001]  
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Originally Posted by moscheles001
I'm training my children to balance balls on their noses. The longer they can do it, the more fish I give them. Next comes playing "Three Blind Mice" on the bulb-horns.
laugh


I bet that has taken more than 10 weeks! smile

#1479022 - 07/22/10 09:27 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Dear Brooke,

The terms 'prodigy' or 'talented' mean whatever you want them to mean, and have completely different meanings in the minds of different people.

The same concept applies for all people. Some will define 'really talented' as someone who can use 2 hands at the same time... others will only call 'really talented' as someone who can sight read beethoven..

So in response to your question... Yes a prodigy can be made and formed right now... In fact, I can make you one right now.

*I believe what you can do on the piano makes you a prodigy.*

Congratulations. You are prodigy in my mind. Now work on changing what prodigy means for you... until you believe you are one.

The point is, it's just a label. If you are one to me. You can be one to yourself, and you can be one to other people in the same way.

And then the penny drops... labels mean nothing but what you think they mean.


... such a vital organ
#1479030 - 07/22/10 09:47 AM Re: Can a prodigy be "made"? [Re: hippymusicman]  
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Originally Posted by hippymusicman
Dear Brooke,

The terms 'prodigy' or 'talented' mean whatever you want them to mean, and have completely different meanings in the minds of different people.

The same concept applies for all people. Some will define 'really talented' as someone who can use 2 hands at the same time... others will only call 'really talented' as someone who can sight read beethoven..

So in response to your question... Yes a prodigy can be made and formed right now... In fact, I can make you one right now.

*I believe what you can do on the piano makes you a prodigy.*

Congratulations. You are prodigy in my mind. Now work on changing what prodigy means for you... until you believe you are one.

The point is, it's just a label. If you are one to me. You can be one to yourself, and you can be one to other people in the same way.

And then the penny drops... labels mean nothing but what you think they mean.


I don't agree with the label you've given to the word "label". To me, labels mean something, otherwise why give it?


private piano/voice teacher FT

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