"prodigy" or not? - How do you know?

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Postby Tranquillo » Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:00 am

I am a piano student. - not a prodigy ... I do know this one guy who is exceptionally talented I keep thinking he is a prodigy but he denies it.
He began lessons at 13 and now is nearly 15 ... in those two years of lessons his sightreading skills are exceptional as well as his hearing and his virtuosity and technique is astounding!

His repetoire includes 15 whole chopin pieces (etudes, noctures, ect) memorised (their Urtext versions). He is currently learning chopins piano concerto no. 1. He also can play 3 mozart sonatas from memory. Bethovens Fur elise (full version) by memory. He can play all of Hungarian Rhapsody and Lieberstruam (Liszt) by memory - mind you these are not symplifted these are Urtext versions. A full (unsymplified) Joplin rag (entertainer).

I was wondering if he taught himself these by rote (takling one bar at a time) but no he reads and you put almost anything infront of him he can play quite fluetly.

I asked him if he was a child prodigy and he denies it ... he says he's too old to be a child prodigy since he started at 13 not at 3.

Makes me wonder though with such an ability is he a prodigy?


???
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:23 am

It sounds like your friend certainly has talent, probably liberally seasoned with hard work, I would guess. Whether he is a "prodigy" or not would take a lot more evaluation than I (or anyone else) could do without knowing a lot more about his talent. I am always amazed when I encounter such people, but my amazement is tempered by the realization that they probably worked hard to get where they are - and, thereby, deserve their "talent."

Whether or not one is a prodigy, musical "talent" only allows the person to grasp concepts and apply them a bit more easily than the average person. It doesn't necessarily mean that such a person is guaranteed musical "success" or that they don't have to work hard at being a musician. One of the points of this thread is that you get out of music what you put into it. It is sad indeed when some parents discover that their child doesn't qualify as a "prodigy" and, as a result, remove the child from lessons - usually just about the time that the kid is beginning to build up enough knowledge and motor skills to enjoy being a pianist. :(
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby Tranquillo » Thu Sep 13, 2007 6:24 am

Thanks for informing me Dr. John Zeigler.

This friend of mine yes ... It was seasoned with hard work and much of it. The amount of practice he puts into a day is about an hour till three hours at most.

My question is who would be the correct person to "diagnose'" him as a prodigy... his teacher? He tells me that he is not a prodigy ... and doesnt believe he is and yet he picked up Chopin's piano concerto a month ago and is already half way through the first movement at and has already memorised up to half way.

As far as picking something up real fast he seems to pick reading and technique up ... He knows 60 of his hanon excercises ... HOWEVER ... he has informed me that is listening lacked. At his ability he cannot sightsing well (he is undegoing piano exams ... AMEB ... like RCM). But other than that he can read and his dexerity is astounding as well has his memory.

How does one diagnose a prodigy?

Rebekah
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu Sep 13, 2007 7:15 am

Becibu wrote:My question is who would be the correct person to "diagnose'" him as a prodigy... his teacher? He tells me that he is not a prodigy ... and doesnt believe he is and yet he picked up Chopin's piano concerto a month ago and is already half way through the first movement at and has already memorised up to half way.

How does one diagnose a prodigy?

Rebekah

Judging musical talent doesn't have much in common with modern scientific medical diagnosis. Criteria for judging talent are hard to come by, when you begin to look hard at trying to do it. Insofar as I'm aware, there are no specific definitions of what it takes to "be a prodigy."

Your friend's teacher may be able to make some sort of judgment, depending on the teacher's own skills, knowledge and experience, or may not. A university professor of piano might be able to tell you something more useful about the degree of your friend's talent.

I suspect that most teachers would prefer to see the term "prodigy" abandoned, just as most scientists would like to see the word "breakthrough" abandoned for something more accurately descriptive. I used "prodigy" to start this thread because it is a term most laypeople understand as characterizing someone with exceptional talent.

Mozart might be the best example of someone to whom the term "prodigy" is often ascribed, but there are few Mozarts out there. There are a significant number of people with unusual talent. Your friend has the right idea and attitude. In the end, it doesn't matter whether he can rightly be called a prodigy by somebody, but what he does with the talent he has. If he can use that talent to make his and other people's lives better, he gets my vote! :D




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Postby 112-1182392787 » Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:09 am

Mozart might be the best example of someone to whom the term "prodigy" is often ascribed, but there are few Mozarts out there.

Both Mozart children, Wolfgang Amadeus and his sister Nanette, had to practice long hours at an early age under the strict tutelage of their musician-father. So your argument about even the talented needing to work to reach their achievements holds true even here. Father Leopold also knew the music business of his era, and promoted his children by saying they were younger than they actually were, as well as having them do cute and impressive things like playing through sheets of cloth - a feat they must have practiced for endless hours.
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