About Life in Flow:Flow in Life

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Talent: Nature or Nurture?

Some time ago I watched this video on the Horn Insights blog. It irritated me, even though I agreed with some of the ideas. The ideas come from a book titled Talent is Overrated by Geoffry Colvin. I haven't read this book, but I did eventually read The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyne, which argues the basic idea, that the three things anyone needs to become an expert at anything are an excellent coach/teacher, 10,000 hours or 10 years of practice, and the practice must be focused and meaningful. I do agree with the idea that whatever you are born with as far as potential, without those three elements it is unlikely that a person will become extraordinary.

But Mozart was extraordinary from the time he was a very young child, before he had had time to amass 10,000 hours of practice. He also surpassed his teacher, his father Leopold, as a young adult. Then, just this week, I read this article, Studying the Science behind Child Prodigies from NPR. It looks at cellist Matt Haimovitz, a former child prodigy whose mother played piano and took him to concerts, but there is no one else in his family with his kind of talent. Ellen Winner, a psychologist who studies child prodigies, argues that the brains of such children are different than the ones the rest of us have. Haimovitz was mentored by outstanding musicians, like Itzhak Perlman, and is today a successful adult musician.

Both the video and the NPR article are too short to do justice to this debate. There's truth on both sides.

1 comment:

beckymusician said...

If the video is not showing up, you can access it here: http://horninsights.com/what-makes-a-mozart-video/