Month: March 2009

The Shyness Clinic, Palo Alto, California

A groundbreaking program that helps chronically shy people develop new social skills. Coached by therapists, the clinic’s clients practice social interaction exactly as if it were a tennis forehand or a piano chord.
Karen’s Journey: Episode 1

Karen’s Journey: Episode 16

Her screen name is ShyKarenInPaloAlto, she’s 37 years old, and she’s given us a remarkable record of …

Florence, Italy, from 1300 to 1600

A modest-size city (population 70,000) which, in the space of a few generations, produced a concentration of artistic brilliance that has gone unmatched in history.
Leonardo’s Deep Practice

This clip is useful for marveling at the skill and breadth of Da Vinci’s work. It also contains telltale signs of his deep practice, the most evident of which …

The Brönte Sisters, West Yorkshire, England

Three sisters, raised in a remote village, who at a young age produced some of the most lauded works in English literature. Charlotte (author of Jane Eyre), Emily (Wuthering Heights), and Anne (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall).
The Bröntes’ Training Ground: Audio Slideshow
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Pabao Little League, Willemstad, Curacao

A scrappy, undersize group of kids from a small Caribbean island who have ascended to Little League baseball’s most illustrious stage: the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. For six of the past eight years, in a tournament where merely qualifying two consecutive years ranks as a remarkable achievement, Curacao has reached the semifinals …

Septien Entertainment Group, Dallas, Texas

KIPP-Heartwood School, San Jose, California

Spartak Tennis Club, Moscow, Russia

A rundown tennis club (and that’s putting it politely) in a freezing climate which, with one indoor court, has in recent years produced more top-20 women players than the entire United States. (Yes, you read that correctly.)  My 2006 visit to Spartak—the original article is here—helped inspire the book.
Inside the Hothouse: Audio Slideshow
This movie requires …

OPUS 118 Harlem School of Music, Harlem, New York

A public-school classical music program founded on the idea that anybody—that means anybody—can learn to play top-level classical music. Opus 118 students have played Carnegie Hall, the Oprah Winfrey Show, and inspired a documentary (“Small Wonders”) as well as the Hollywood treatment, “Music of the Heart,”  and have helped launch many similar efforts.
A Tiny, Powerful …

Brazilian Soccer Schools, Leeds, England

HOTBED: Brazilian Soccer Schools, Leeds, England
A project, begun in 1998 by an elementary schoolteacher named Simon Clifford, that has transformed a former soccer backwater into a veritable factory of talented players. Its main tool: a Brazilian game called futbol de salao (“soccer in the room”), an indoor five-a-side version of the sport.  The ball is smaller and heavier—creating …

Meadowmount School of Music, Westport, New York