The Next Mozart


I love Emily Bear. She’s an eight-year-old kid from Rockford, IL, who plays piano incredibly well.  I also love how her story embodies some of the patterns about developing talent. Let’s set aside some of the slightly breathless storytelling of this news clip and examine the facts:

  • Emily was born into an extremely musical family (check out Grandma at 1:25 — a concert pianist and music teacher).
  • Emily grew up being ignited by the presence of her musically skilled older brother and sister. (I saw this pattern — let’s call it the Michael Jackson syndrome — again and again at the talent hotbeds. The younger kids have the most musical chops–not because they have some musical gene, but because they grow up in a musical hothouse, filled with models, visions of who they might become. Simply put, they have more fuel.)
  • Emily showed remarkable immediate interest, but not remarkable immediate skill (check out the home-movie clip of two-year-old Emily at the 2:00 mark). But she is having great fun — a quality that shines through all her playing.
  • Emily got great instruction and, more important, a bond with her instructor (evidenced by the song she wrote for him).

Magical gift?

Or is this a case — as with Mozart himself — where a kid was ignited to fall in love with music, then used that love, guided by a master coach, to fuel hours of deep practice, to construct fast, beautiful skill circuits?

Or do we chalk it up to some combination of the above?

(What do you think?)

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3 Responses to “The Next Mozart”

  1. Bryce says:

    I lean towards the confluence of a number of factors. My guess is that Emily had a predisposition for music and creative expression before she ever touched a piano. That said, to hear her play it is obvious that she has spent a great deal of time honing her craft–not just practicing, but practicing the right way.

    But, I don’t think it’s just genetic endowment and practice that got her to this point. A lot of small things happened in her story that I think made a difference. She had examples to follow, access to great teachers and mentors, was in a family that could afford to pay for top-notch instruction, and happened to live hear one of the preeminent piano instructors (Mr. D.).

    Maybe it was just the “perfect storm” for talent to spring up. . .everything seemed to come together in just the right way.

  2. Tom says:

    I’m impressed with how she is more animated than automated…something you don’t always see in these young marvels.

  3. Dave says:

    Great video. I agree with all of the above points. It is great to see how grounded her parents are. You mentioned in a later blog (I think it was how to raise a child prodigy) how important it is that parents have children realise the connection between them and their peers. Her Mom says she wants her “have good values”, “to be happy” and “to be a really good grown up”. Emily even says “she’s just a normal kid who plays piano”.

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