Prodigies as Role Models

ピアノを弾く女の子It seems to have become role model month here at the Starborn Revue! The first two Wednesdays of the month, I talked about adults who have been my role models over the years. For the last two Wednesdays of October, I want to talk about the ways kids can be role models — to other kids, and to adults.

Prodigy. The word is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a highly talented child or youth.” Generally we would add “unusually so” to that, indicating that the child’s talent is so far out of the ordinary as to seem almost unbelievable. That seems to put them on a higher level than the rest of us. We can’t be like them. Or can we?

Prodigies are regular kids who happen to have a special talent. We may not be as talented as they are, but we still have talents, and we can still learn to use them with joy, to the best of our ability — just as they do.

I found a great article on the website Inkwell Scholars about Mozart and Mendelssohn, who were hailed as child prodigies in their time. The writer of the article points out that there are five things we can learn from kids like this:

  1. to “find your passion and pursue it”
  2. to “create your best work”
  3. to “never stop learning”
  4. to “gather outside experiences and start new hobbies”
  5. to “share your work with the world”

There’s a poem called “We Cannot All Be Washingtons and Lincolns.” (You can find it in Julie Andrews’ Treasury for All Seasons.) It is also true that we cannot all be Mendelssohns and Mozarts — but surely we can do these five things with whatever level of talent we have been given.

Some time ago, a friend of mine alerted me to an interview on NPR (National Public Radio in the United States) about a pianist named Oscar Paz Suaznabar. He is immensely talented. He has played in Carnegie Hall in New York City, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

He is 9 years old, or at least he was when the interview took place. He may well be 10 by now. He plays with great emotion, calling on personal experiences to create the mood of the piece within himself so that he can express that feeling in his playing. He seems wise beyond his years. But he’s also a regular kid, and that comes through in this interview.

No matter what our talent, and no matter how ordinary we may think ourselves, we can still make the effort to learn from kids like Oscar Paz Suaznabar, and to shine forth in whatever way we can to bring joy to our small part of the world.

Here’s the interview from NPR’s All Things Considered, May 27, 2015.

And here’s an invitation for you to find some way this week to SHINE!

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  1. I really enjoyed your post and the NPR interview! Sorry I’m late in responding. There are some wonderfully gifted child prodigies, but I do agree that it is important for parents use the Inkwell suggestions you gave to encourage their child. It all starts with passion and freedom to explore.

    Thank you for introducing me to Oscar. Have you seen Alma Deutscher, who began playing piano, violin and composing at age 5. She composed her first opera “The Sweeper of Dreams” at age 7. You can look her up on Youtube. Here’s one of her more recent compositions:

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