Genius, pt. XVI

After Calcutta, Eric Weiner went to Vienna, Austria, which was the site of not only a golden age but of two golden ages separated by a century.

In Austria’s capital, while gathering facts about Mozart, the author found out that the composer wrote his first original piano concerto when he was 17, a young age, but, as the author described it, “not freakishly so.” He then wrote that “child prodigies are fiction.”

He wrote how “some young musicians play well exceptionally well, but rarely, if ever, do they produce anything innovative at a young age. One study of twenty-five exceptional pianists found that, while they all had support and encouragement from their parents, most didn’t truly distinguish themselves until much later in their careers. Yes, young children sometimes display remarkable skill, but not creative genius. That takes time.”

I don’t think one study is enough to prove his point but I like his idea of child prodigies being fiction because I believe in the proverb that people are never too old to learn. I don’t think children (or anyone) should be told what they can and cannot do in the future based on what they can do in the present because people change.

We might be able to predict how well a child can do in the future, but we’re not God. We have no way of truly knowing how great a person can become with time and effort and grit. Ten years is a long time. Even in a year a lot can happen. We can keep growing and learning, and we don’t need to be child prodigies to be able to do that.