Archive for practice

Mozart Trained for 18 Years for his First Amazing Score


Family portrait: Maria Anna ("Nannerl&quo...

Mozart started his training at age 3: Family portrait: Maria Anna (“Nannerl”) Mozart, her brother Wolfgang, their mother Anna Maria (medallion) and father, Leopold Mozart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Quote by Geoffrey Colvin in chapter 2 of his book “Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else“:

“Mozart’s father was of course Leopold Mozart, a famous composer and performer in his own right. He was also a domineering parent who started his son on a program of intensive training in composition and performing at age three…Wolfgang’s first four piano concertos, composed when he was eleven, actually contain no original music by him…Mozart’s first work regarded today as a masterpiece, with its status confirmed by the number of recordings available, is his Piano Concerto No. 9, composed when he was twenty-one. That’s certainly an early age, but we must remember that by then Wolfgang had been through eighteen years of extremely hard, expert training. This is worth pausing to consider. Any divine spark that Mozart may have possessed did not enable him to produce world-class work quickly or easily”

In case after case, Geoffrey Colvin goes on to explain that the famous people who are known worldwide for their amazing skills had to work very hard at being that good. Their work regimen contradicts the popular notion that such people are born talented. It is also true that they usually started very young and were strongly guided by their parents hopes and plans. It is their parents oversight that allowed them to focus with such intensity without too many distractions from the normal school routines that other school children would have to follow. This is good news because it implies that parents can deliberately copy the parental pattern of encouraging talent in their own child, starting in their home. That difference in time between starting at age 12 and age 22 can be a good ten years of talent creation. Your child could easily fit his 10,000 hours of deliberate practice by the time other adult children are just beginning to look for a productive output.



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Parable of the Pottery Makers by Ted Orland


Parable of the Pottery Makers

The Parable of the Pottery Makers is found in the book “Art and Fear” co-authored by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Recently one of my sons was going through a discouraging patch of inspiration in regards to the building up of his talent. In addition to my fatherly soft-and-tough pep talk about persevering and not giving up, I also repeated back a parable I had heard which also made complete sense to him – and brought a smile back to his face. That story was the Parable of the Pottery Makers as it originally was told in the book “Art and Fear” and relayed in the book “The First 20 Hours.”

This particular son, who is the most perfectionist of all my children, will tend to research and analyze the details of a new skill to the point that he becomes paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy and as a result never gets started actually practicing what he has learned. This is is why I recommend that in the beginning, as a parent, you shield your child from too much outside scrutiny so that he isn’t frozen into inaction. Encourage your child to get his hands dirty as soon as possible and to stumble (safely) through as quickly as possible in order to break beyond the first baby-step problems that a newbie has to go through.
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Art & Fear