To be a prodigy in music, for example, is to be a mimic, to reproduce what you hear from grown-up musicians. Yet only rarely, according to Gladwell, do child musical prodigies manage to make the necessary transition from mimicry to creating a style of their own. The “prodigy midlife crisis,” as it has been called, proves fatal to all but a handful would-be Mozarts. “Precociousness, in other words, is not necessarily or always a prelude to adult achievement. Sometimes it’s just its own little discrete state.”
I teach a lot of adult students and they generally make comparisons between their current skill level and that of Mozart as a child. Not only is it not in their best interest to do that, it just isn’t fair. I’ll talk more about Mozart in a moment, but what’s important to remember is that we all start from square one — whenever and wherever on our personal time-line that may be.
…And when it comes to musicians, the strongest predictor of ability is the same mundane thing that gets you to Carnegie Hall: “Really what we mean … when we say that someone is ‘naturally gifted’ is that they practice a lot, that they want to practice a lot, that they like to practice a lot.”
I find this conclusion over and over again. It’s difficult to measure “natural gift” but it’s easier to measure motivation and inclination by counting the hours someone spends improving a particular skill.
…Compelled to practice three hours a day from age three on, by age six the young Wolfgang had logged an astonishing 3,500 hours — “three times more than anybody else in his peer group. No wonder they thought he was a genius.”
Want to be an expert? Do the math. How many hours have you logged? I’ll say it again and again, get my practice schedule and practice.
Full Article: The Myth of Prodigy and Why it Matters