Month: August 2009

A Star is Grown

Danyl Johnson is apparently the Next Big Thing — a humble, unknown teacher from Reading, England, who came out of nowhere to star on the British talent show “The X Factor.” You can see it all in his first audition: the technique, the joy, the quicksilver shifts in mood and expression with which he works …

Tiny Island, Huge Talent

Talk about a talent hotbed: Curacao is back in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, this week, having won the tough Caribbean Region for the ninth consecutive year. For reasons why, check out this trailer for this upcoming documentary film, “Boys of Summer”–and note the slow, deep practice happening around the 45-second mark. …

Actors and Generals

I’ve always enjoyed Ben Kingsley’s work; I will enjoy it even more after hearing him talk about his craft on Charlie Rose, comparing the skill of acting to the skill of being a general in the military. As Kingsley explains, “there’s a discipline, a training, a code of practice that’s invisible to the public eye… …

Learning Perfect Pitch

I was listening to my latest obsession, RadioLab NYC, and came across a great story about perfect pitch — that rare ability to precisely identify any musical note possessed by Mozart, Hendrix, Ray Charles, etc — and which is, quite obviously, a genetic gift. Right?
Uh, no. A rather amazing study by Diana Deutsch tells a …

Look Who’s Thinking!

A fascinating piece by Alison Gopnik (who happens to be the sister of Adam Gopnik, one of my favorite writers — talk about talent hotbeds!) about how smart babies really are. The short answer: a lot smarter than we think. And the kind of learning they are built to do is all about exploring–not about …

Sparks Flying

It’s a terrific story: a 37-year-old, 110th-ranked Joe Nobody comes back in the final round of the PGA Tournament to defeat Tiger Woods. What makes Y.E. Yang’s story even greater, however, is his backstory.  As the BBC reports here:
[Yang] only took up the sport after a knee injury in his teens ended his dreams of …

Les Paul, Guitar Hero

Of all the inspiring quotes about the life of the recently departed guitar inventor/virtuoso, this one is my favorite. It comes from a letter to Paul’s mother written by his piano teacher:  “Your boy, Lester, will never learn music.”