The Next Mozart

I love Emily Bear. She’s an eight-year-old kid from Rockford, IL, who plays piano incredibly well.  I also love how her story embodies some of the patterns about developing talent. Let’s set aside some of the slightly breathless storytelling of this news clip and examine the facts:

  • Emily was born into an extremely musical family (check out Grandma at 1:25 — a concert pianist and music teacher).
  • Emily grew up being ignited by the presence of her musically skilled older brother and sister. (I saw this pattern — let’s call it the Michael Jackson syndrome — again and again at the talent hotbeds. The younger kids have the most musical chops–not because they have some musical gene, but because they grow up in a musical hothouse, filled with models, visions of who they might become. Simply put, they have more fuel.)
  • Emily showed remarkable immediate interest, but not remarkable immediate skill (check out the home-movie clip of two-year-old Emily at the 2:00 mark). But she is having great fun — a quality that shines through all her playing.
  • Emily got great instruction and, more important, a bond with her instructor (evidenced by the song she wrote for him).

Magical gift?

Or is this a case — as with Mozart himself — where a kid was ignited to fall in love with music, then used that love, guided by a master coach, to fuel hours of deep practice, to construct fast, beautiful skill circuits?

Or do we chalk it up to some combination of the above?

(What do you think?)

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn