i hate it when others use the word prodigy, and i call this kid a prodigy! :)

April 27, 2010 at 07:56 PM ·

let's hope talents like her gets the right guidance, funding and luck to make it in the classical biz.

i don't know the family or her or their musical background or what future holds,  and i am not trying to promote her in any way except she rocks. 


Replies (65)

April 27, 2010 at 09:05 PM ·

Hi, thanks for posting this. May I respectfully disagree?

I'm sorry, it's sad... (I don't play much of this repertoire ; ) and am just a normal student but I think I have good ennough ear to usually seek "maturity" in sound when I hear someone. Sound is my passion as a student)  It sounds like a very bright kid who is abused in a way...  (What they are doing to her  is not good for her musicianship!!!)

She makes me think a lot of another one that I can't name... (who did a big controversial thread here playing Paganini 24 caprice at 5 on youtube...) 

Clearly the sound is not mature and it's sad to push a kid with these jewels of repertoire too early... I think such pieces should just be given to students who are ready to make them sound a little more "professionnal" (more vibrato, power, dynamics, in tune and... a personality and meaning to the notes they play etc.)  (ALTHOUGH SHE IS TALENTED TO MeMORIZE THE HUGE QUATITY OF STUFF THEY GIVE HER. BRAVO ON THIS!)  But they cultivate quantity over quality. The mentality nowadays...

Yes she will maybe become a great player one day (hopfully after all her efforts!) but how to convinced such kid to come back and practice basic things to develop a better sound???  How will they tell her this?

I'm personally more impress by students like your daughter that sound more "professional" and mature.  I know your daughter is older but maybe her nice sound comes from the fact that she had time to digest things and work on solid basics before going with such stuff?

Just my two cents (of course, I recognize the efforts and BRAVO. But it's not a good thing to do to her! Just a few as Sarah Chang were able to handle such things well... And most rock solid players of the first generation weren't train this way!)

But I'm not saying this to complain and I repeat that she is very bright to memorize this!


April 27, 2010 at 09:56 PM ·

Here is a video that express maybe better my opinion. This player is, for me, a very good example of a mature sound in a young person...  (Perhaps another kind of training/approch towards music?)


(ps, I refer to the player who was 13 in the video, not the orchestra ; )

Of course I enjoy all videos and it's just normal that some people will have different opinions on videos!  I don't want to focus on another player. It's just that I think it's always better to have examples of what we want to say/express.

I know I will pass for a pretentious to tell all this. But it's just my impression as a listener and NO MORE

One can also ask questions about if all of this is in the kid's best interest... (maybe not...)  Think of the psychological impacts.  Having a website at this age as a little star, beeing sure you play so well and then having to come back to work on some technique you've left behind or not having the same attention when you will become older...  This is tough for a child! Is it just because they want to get fame indirectly with this child or for the child herself?

Again bravo for this 7 year old to be able to play all these notes (really)!

April 27, 2010 at 10:43 PM ·

Very impressive.  I hope this thread is not a repeat of the following:


April 28, 2010 at 01:08 PM ·

hello anne marie,

you have made many good points.  i will respond on several levels:

1.  to grow this field, classical violin, we can either look backwards at those giants as sources of inspiration, or forward at promising younger players as sources of inspiration.  or both.  perhaps i am biased with my observation, but i think we tend to lean toward the older generations much more and have lower threshold brushing aside very promising very young players (such as this kid) who may need better guidance to better mature her in the proper way, in order to fill this field with more depth and width going forward.   as discussed in the other link on that 5 yo (provided by smiley), my opinion is that it is futile to compare and contrast heifetz et al with this pee wee league.  and don't bother to extrapolate what heifetz must have sounded like when he was 5 or during his mother's gestational period:)  the proper way, in my opinion, is to highlight what these pee wees have instead of have not.   given the abundance of top notch teaching globally and electronic media for reference, it is conceivable that the current younger generation is capable of achiving tech excellence earlier than the older generation.  yet the current generation is facing a very hostile environment, not only from the degenerative and decaying music tastes of the mass, but also from accomplished classical musicians who are rather stingy with lending a helping hand.   that is, being too critical and missing the big picture and missing the long term perspective on the nurturing of real prodigies.

2.  i am not a musician but i have seen a lot of players to appreciate that this particular girl has clearly demonstrated very promising traits to be a great player one day.  whether she will be one or not is another story;  the same thing applies when we pick out a tree seedling to plant in our yard or invest in a promising yet risky stock.    what she possesses cannot be taught easily nor learnt easily (which is an understatement) and what she needs to work on is comparatively much easier to handle.  age is an issue but time is on her side.

3. may be i have failed to see things in better perspective.  comparing with real talents like this, with true dedication and solid tech control, my kid's clips are dog and pony shows at best...




April 28, 2010 at 04:12 PM ·


Honestly, I enjoy your daughter's playing more.


April 28, 2010 at 04:20 PM ·

I second Bart.

April 28, 2010 at 05:02 PM ·

While I was amazed at this video, to see a 7 year old play repertoire that is still way off in the distance as regards my own skill at the violin... it brings to light a point that I am sure has been addressed here before. I have read before articles about child prodigies and how they are practicing many hours a day at age three or four, and I wonder if on discovering the ability, a parent must then choose either to raise a child or a musician. Do these children play? Do they have friends? Do they develop as real, live, little human beings? Or are they just breathing extensions of their instrument? Maybe I am completely wrong and these kids are very much normal and happy, but still I am very curious. Has anyone had any actual contact with one of these kids, outside of watching them performance? What are they like?

April 28, 2010 at 05:16 PM ·

I agree, she needs more basics. She plays out of tune, etc. All the major professionals I know, including a few major names,practice very basic things quite frequently like open string slow bows to work on sound quality. Parents today are always in such a rush to get their toddlers to the top in a hurry. S l o w  d o w n  and enjoy the ride. The harder, showy pieces will still be there when you're ready for them.

April 28, 2010 at 05:26 PM ·

Mercedes has good reach!  Did you notice the stretches she did?

April 28, 2010 at 05:39 PM ·

Ray has spoken my mind better than I could.

April 28, 2010 at 05:56 PM ·

Al your ideas and opinions are very good too!  I personnally love to listen to young kid stars on internet and I never denied any.  I have a few "favorites" young kids on youtube but the difference with this girl (just in my opinion) is that they maybe do less "repertoire" but do it with what I consider a growned up maturity and sound She has much potential but is it ok to push a kid too soon when they are not ready to play the pieces assign to them like real violinists?  

A problem in our society is actually to push very bright kids to play the "great artists" at a age where they should be practicing to become one (it's find if a kid has broadcasts on youtube as long as it is not to "play the grown up artist when they are not yet..."  )

An example of how exteme (in 2010) is this phenomenon of playing the great artists when one is not one yet  is her website (and not just hers but all those of similar kids in a similar situation) Her website and those of similar kids are more show off and puffy than those of soloists masters!)  Is this normal, honnestly??? Could you believe a kid of 7 can do all this with a quality playing? (IT IS ADMIRABLE TO PLAY THE NOTES OF ALL THESE AND BRAVO)  But is it ok to put all this publically on a website that looks as serious as the one of a 45 year old touring accomplished soloist?  Is it a bit too soon to do the big comming out?  Why not wait that all these sound "EMI CD recordable quality" and mature before publishing such a list on an "artist" website... 


    J. S. Bach: Double Violin Concerto in D minor (Complete)

Bruch: Violin Concerto, in G minor (Complete)

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, in E minor (Complete)

Mozart: Violin Concerto No.3, in G major (Complete)

Mozart: Violin Concerto No.5, in A major (Complete)

Vieuxtemps: Violin Concerto No.5, in A minor (Complete) 


Bach: 6 Sonatas & Partitas, Sonata No.1, (Complete)

Bach: 6 Sonatas & Partitas, Partita No.2, Allemanda

Bach: 6 Sonata & Partitas, Partita No.3, Giga

Beethoven: Spring Sonata (1st Movement)

    Beethoven: Sonata in G Major No.8, Op.30  No.3 (1st & 2nd Movements)Mozart: Sonata, No. 4, in E minor (1st & 2nd  movements)

Paganini: Sonata, No. 12 "Innocence
Schubert: Sonatina in Op. 137, No. 1 (1st & 2nd movements)
Schubert: Sonatina, No.3, (3rd & 4th movements)

Tartini: "Devil's Trill" Sonata (Complete)


Beethoven: Romance in F, Op 50

Chopin: Nocturne in C# minor

Elgar: Salut d’mour

Gluck: Melodie

Hubay: Hejre Kati

Kreisler: Liebesleid

Kreisler: Praeludium & Allegro

Kreisler: Rondino on a Theme by Beethoven

Massenet: Meditation, from “Thais”

Monti: Csardas

Paganini: 24 Caprices, No.13

Paganini: Sonata, Op. 12 (Innocent)

Sarasate: Zigeunerweisen

Tchaikovsky: Melody, Op. 42, No. 3

Vitali: Chaconne, in G minor

Wieniawski: Kujawiak

Wieniawski: Polonaise Brillante in D Major, Op.4, No.1

*Also Avalaible to Perform ~ Suzuki: Volume 1 to 10 ~ for  School Concert*


For those who do not play violin, it's easy to take all these infos for "cash" and by reading these pages, I though I was on Sarah Chang's (or anyone of this caliber) website!!! Also our society tends to associate immidiately  without questions an adorable/charming very bright person with a prodigy/genius...  One can easily take off the focus on the other. Again, I find this with every kid in a similar situation,  NOT JUST HER.  SHE IS TALENTED AND WILL SURELY BECOME A GOOD ARTIST but I'm not sure if every great pedagogue would agree with the way they push such bright kids to perform things before they are ready...

Perhaps I'll never understand nowadays thinking ; )  But that beeing said, I sure enjoy so much youtube and every violinist there has something good!

Have a nice day!  And I respect very much Al and all the other different opinions as well!


"comparing with real talents like this, with true dedication and solid tech control, my kid's clips are dog and pony shows at best..."

Really not in my opinion! (your daughter does way more than "circus" shows!)

And by 40 years old or so, all those who are meant to be great soloists will have play the major works as Ray said so well... So what is the sens to rush and do them too soon when they are not well played?

April 28, 2010 at 06:20 PM ·

i think it will be counterproductive if not counterrevolutionary to argue against the consensus here but you guys never listen since always:)

parents are all loonies. accept the fact that they call their own kids angels, princesses and prodigies.  looking beyond that,  her amazing skills are independent of the packaging.  i think mercedes has got wheels (sorry:)

to not to make things worse, i shall crawl back under the rock on this one.   you heartless bashers are a threat to civilization:)!

April 28, 2010 at 06:49 PM ·

She's sweet, she's talented and she's acomplished.  So here's the really BIG question-Does she get to play on the street with the other kids?

You only get one crack at childhood.  Talented or not.

April 28, 2010 at 09:53 PM ·


I didn`t paricularly enjoy listenign to he rplaying for the reasons Ray pointed out. Yes, I too prefer your daughters playing.

For me the problem is simply taht we tend to use the word `prodigy` in differnet ways.  In my case a prodigy is someone who plays like an adult both emotionally and tehcncially (that presupposes taht adults always play with emotional depth and security...) so that one feels like one is witnessing something rather peculiar perhaps even slightly disturbing.    Then there are huge talents,  a category in which one might choose to put this girl.

Personally I don`t think we are unfair in eitehr looking back into the past prodigies or making comparisons with other modern prodigies although I confes sthe least ones I cna think of are Vengerov and Midori.  A comparison is what it is and if it shows up that the child in question isn`t really in the ultimate plaer of all time league that is not a big deal.  If one is going to use th eword prodigy in the first palce then some attempt to put it in perspective is also necessary.

BTW my childhood never ended...



April 28, 2010 at 10:20 PM ·

Darn, I was hoping this thread was not going to be a repeat of the previous one.  I guess if you ask the same question, you generally get the same answer, like whether or not one should use a shoulder rest -- I still haven't figured that one out. 


April 29, 2010 at 06:27 AM ·

Al, I think this is a better example of how well a 7 year old can play: And two years later... 


April 29, 2010 at 12:31 PM ·

I don't understand the fascination with children on youtube.  There's a lot of talent out there but I see no reason to exploit that to the general public.  I don't think I could ever parade my kid on the internet like that, as a parent I would want to protect my child's privacy until he/she is old enough to decide their path.  They can then post their own youtube videos and say "look how I played when I was just 7!"  Once that video is out there there's no taking it back.

Furthermore while I understand that parents want the best for their children I think it's heartless to push them into pursuing music at a professional level so young.  Am I interested in watching a 7 year old play Paganini?  Sure, the same way I'm interested in seeing a lion at the zoo.  It will be a long time before these children can make the music come alive, likewise watching a lion at a zoo is not nearly as interesting as watching a lion in its natural habitat doing all the things a lion is supposed to do.  I pity the lions in the zoo.

April 29, 2010 at 02:09 PM ·

it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

smiley, you called it:)  i guess it is kinda redundant to ask if i need a haircut if i walk into a barber shop :)

buri, it is good to point out that there may be different definitions of the term prodigy, some more stringent, others more relaxed. and mine is just marvelous and perfect:)  mine is someone who is young and showing traits of outstanding aptitude that makes my jaw drops.  so the jaw dropping part, an involuntary action, is really the deciding factor.   mine is not someone young who is already capable of playing and sounding not young, which sounds more like yours.  for one, those old farts happened to be playing some of the best adult sized violins and the pee wee leagues are playing with wood boxes.  although hardly a deciding factor, it cannot be denied that better violins promote better intonation, facilitate better playability and possibly help project the impression/image of a better player.  the same applies to bows and thus the combination of viollin and bow makes a difference big enough that may lead to different interpretations on someone's tone or on a bigger scheme, capability.

having said that,  on the issues of intonation and musicality, i do not believe for one second that anyone on earth has ever achieved perfection or close to perfection since very young, thus perhaps the most ideal definition of prodigy.  the heifetz camp may not agree but i don't care:)   it is a process of evolution, aided by physical, cognitive and musical developments through time and learning.   some 7 yos are born more ready for violin, some 7 yos are similar, other 7 yos are different in the course of development.  therefore, although i have enjoyed the clips provided by yixi very much and seen her point--how that kid has a more polished presentation and perhaps more solid fundamentals, i would also keep in mind of the different stages of neuro-physico-psycho-social-musical development exhibited by different kids in the same age group.   since the million dollar question has always been if a prodigy can eventually turn into a great mature player, i would follow how each kid develops in time.

precisely because mercedes seems to be on the smaller side,  i find her command of her small instrument and the level of her playing, at this juncture in time,  all the more impressive.  i am terribly disappointed that most if not all of you are looking for instant gratification instead of potential.  just terrible:)

marina, to each her/his own parent, child, youtube clips.  as much as i understand where you are coming from with your ideas of parenting and the proper setting and function of a zoo,   i can identify with your point of view only so much so i can still take my kids to the bronx zoo once in a while and be in awe of those lazy bastard lions who are lying around waiting to be fed.   i don't think my kids have missed out by not seeing yet the lions in action in the african plains.   further, it is really not a matter of understanding or not on how the classical world has long developed this nasty habit of parading prodigy kids since day one.   it is classical music culture and history.

do take your kid to the bronx zoo!  the cable car is fun! :)

April 29, 2010 at 10:36 PM ·

Just because a child can perform the mechanics of something does not mean that a child should do so unless they are emotionally mature enough to deal with it. I personally do not see Mercedes understanding the Aesthetics of what she is doing. A prodigy can! As an example Mattie Stepanek, an American Poet, certainly did!  He was a prodigy!  If Mercedes was asked, "Why she played a note the way she did" more than likely all she could say is that Ms. or Mr Fiddlestyx told her to play it as such.  She could not elaborate why she used such-and-such texture in this phrase in relation to the color of the phrase of the Paganini piece she is playing. The Caprices are more than just a Didactic tools!  They are art! Unless the child can comprehend the aesthetics on an adult level that child has no business playing such pieces.  Should she keep up her mechanical skills? Yes! She should be playing the basics (as is recommended here) to learn color, texture, and the meaning of interpretation? Definitely! Mattie Stepanek certainly DID!!! And was still able to be a little boy!  Mercedes has yet to demonstrate that she has the heart to play such peices..... she is not mature enough yet.  Sadly, I have seen too many music majors who, like Mecedes, haven't a clue!

April 29, 2010 at 10:37 PM ·

Yixi, I agree with you that he seems to be ready for his pieces! Perhaps this is more enjoyable for him as well as for the listener!  Also, maybe a lesson for all teachers in your clips... This kid played Mendelsshon 3rd pretty well at 7 with an orchestra and 3 years later. a beautiful Mozart 3rd with no cadenza...  This can just express how Mozart can be tough... and that he might be between wise hands too.  I've heard so many times this concerto 1 st mvt played very "studently" on the net by not well prepared kids and... with a butchered cadenza besides this!  But is this "zoo" (I'm talking in general here) the kids fault? I don't think!

I also agree with Marina!  The problem is not to post music if you do not master it as long as it is YOUR decision and that you don't make something very important of your playing (I mean not play the "great artist" when your not there yet... )  I don't think it's respectful for the kids and maybe this is way I was inspired to write a little too much on this thread... (I calm down now! ; )


Al, good points too although pushing a kid too far for what he is ready is not just accepting that he/she won't sound like an adult right now  (potential is not just beeing able to play the notes of anything)... in a similar situation, it's all about giving bad habits and cutting on solid basics/foundation, harm his/her childhood, trying to build a "star" too soon and abusing of the kid's innocence and super brightness to one's own profit and reputation in a way... I just wonder if anything is an exuse to do this to a kid???

Again, diversity of opinions is what makes an healthy world and I respect yours!   

April 29, 2010 at 10:38 PM ·

When it comes to understanding the 'basics' of Aesthetics among Fine Arts Majors.... it is pathetically LACKING!!!!  What a Crying Shame!!!!!

April 30, 2010 at 12:03 AM ·

hello royce,  if we acknowledge that every person here has his/her own definition of prodigy, then perhaps we can reach some common ground among the differences.  it is a highly subjective and slippery terminology/concept.  to me, it has some level of facetiousness to it.:)

you wrote " I personally do not see Mercedes understanding the Aesthetics of what she is doing."

you are probably intuitive enough to assess that or musically advanced enough to inform her about that.  i am not advanced musically and not bright, but i see beauty in her playing.  i look at her as her.  i do not look at her as a tool being pushed forward even if that is the case here.   if you ask me,,,can you explain the beauty in her playing...i can't.  i hear it, i feel it.  i am in awe.  if music does that to me,  i accept it without the need for further proof or explanation.  i do not believe every classical musician in order to have his/her voice heard has to line up and match against certain standards.

you mentioned that child poet and called him a prodigy.  I personally do not see him understanding the Aesthetics of what he is doing.  just kidding:)    here we have a super special kid who wrote poetry at the age of 3, published, best seller-ed, being the poster child of the neuromuscular dz that he suffered.  i have no problem agreeing with you that he shall be inducted to the Hall of Prodigy, Poetry Division.  but how do you respond if some high level adult poets claim that his poetry  does not  reach their highly selective prodigy level?   you will argue that it does, right?!

and anne marie, i appreciate yours and others' concern for the welfare of the children (perhaps that is one major reason i will swear with my blood that i will not even encourage, let alone push, my kid into classical music).  i know as a fact that many current/past artists, in their childhoods, have been treated poorly by their parents and teachers in the pursuit of perfection and in the spirit of competition.  Mommy, stop crying, i will practice for you...pretty heady stuff, right?    the ones who have survived became stars, that is all.  how do we weigh the beautiful music they produce on the right  with the lost childhood by american children's advocate standard on the left?    shall we boycott their musicianship to send a message to future parents and teachers that we mean business?  or shall we conveniently brush under the carpet of the dark secret and embrace the beautiful music because the end justifies the means?   al is being difficult, we think:)

the road to stardom starts with the concept of prodigy.  beautiful music comes at a cost.   is it not? :)

April 30, 2010 at 12:30 AM ·

Well, you raised a good point of the beauty that stirred in you with Mercedes!  I cannot question that. I believe you!  Mattie was wise beyond his years and had an awareness of what he was doing, and was perceptive to concepts usually found only by adult minds. He set out to reach specific emotions in adults and conveyed an understanding of the foundation of certain ethics (with a remarkable adult level of Metaphysics + Epistemology) which came from his own heart and mind that was not a per bat-um recitation, which is what I think I am seeing with Mercedes. One thing for sure is.... How can I say I know anything about her by watching one video?  Looking back at what I have written relay is conjecture!  Simply impressions more so than facts.  I am speaking with bias and predjudice..... And this is due to what I perceive with Fine arts students around me... Not all of them... but many.  I guess when I started in on this, it was this that was foremost on my mind and truly I guess that I do owe Mercedes an apology for such a preconceived bias judgment on her.  She's a little girl with a lot of talent. what else can I say I truly know?

Thank You for introducing us all to a wonderful and tallented little humanbeing.

God Bless.

April 30, 2010 at 01:25 AM ·

stars & stardom...that is exactly what my take on the videos were...just like those beauty pageants for children...

  • what was the intent to initially post the videos anyway?
  •  and by whom?

talented yes...but adding a pretty dress, and diminutive being does not make for prodigy but in reality merely a musical action figure soon to be marketed by Mattell


April 30, 2010 at 01:31 AM ·


there are always lots of interesting questions raised by these issues.   Personally,  though I am vehemently opposed to setting up talented kids as the next Perlman and pushing them beyond what they can handle in all walks of life blah blah I am not always so completley in agreement with the idea that childhood is an all embracing formula that must prevent us form imposing a disciplined structure on kids lives that may include taking them out of what could lossley be described as the mainstream and having them learn to work extremely hard on something they are clearly inspired by and deeply attracted to. A child who is very gifted such as Merceds, may well be much happier consorting with otehr talneted kids in a gifted childenvironment.  



April 30, 2010 at 01:39 AM ·

I don't have kids but I'd be interested to know from the mums and dads on here:   How would your 7 year old feel if you put up a video of his/her playing?   Would you ask their permission beforehand? 

Just thinking back to that age (woo, loooong time ago...!) obviously we didn't have YouTube then but I was VERY particular about when I would perform in public - i.e. in front of friends or relatives - and when not.   If I decided I didn't want to play something for someone then not even my favourite food would change my mind!   I know I'd have been absolutely mortified and livid if my playing had been put on YouTube or another widely accessible medium.

I'm also reminded of these USA child pageants - there's one particularly scary series doing the rounds on British tv at present - one gets the impression that the children aren't really in a psychological situation where they are able to protest against taking part.  

April 30, 2010 at 06:31 AM ·

I recall Simon Fischer recently told Laurie during her interview that playing the violin is all about proportion.

Back the good old days I enjoyed being the little girl whose portrait had been displayed in window of the most prestige Photoshop in Shanghai at age 5. We didn’t know much about privacy those days. Now we are living in a much more complex world so who knows? Kids have rights including privacy rights. The kid did publicly performed on stage, but this is not itself a consent to have the performance being posted on the internet. The kid may be really upset because his privacy has been breached by the YouTube posting without having this informed consent given beforehand, even though the parents can always take the video down when he objects.  It’s great that we are more enlightened these days about privacy and children’s rights, but are we wiser or better off by going down that route of thinking? Are we making ourselves and our kids happier or healthier by using strong words associated with child-exploitation and abuse without concrete evidence of the crime when the talented kids’ performances are being posted on the internet by and large I believe in good intention? I don’t know.
It’s all about proportion.

April 30, 2010 at 06:43 AM ·

The big problem  in posting children on the internet in any situation is that they are open to world wide viewing and thus poor little Mercedes has been dissected by a public at large to be read by a public at large. The questions posed by the video are interesting but I personally dont think that children should be named or highlighted.It goes beyond privacy and into the rights of minors.

April 30, 2010 at 12:18 PM ·

Beeing very perfectionnist, if I was Mercedes (I'm not that is sure...), I would be very angry at my parents to have put these videos of me on youtube!  While some people don't care to have the "how they've got there" put publically, I would rather be of those who would just want to put the results.  (Especially if it's a futur possible professionnal violinist...)  In my thinking, it's better for them to come out later with a full artistic and solid tone when they can fully blossom.  But I know this is more of an old generation's thinking (I am not that old though... weird that I think this but I do!)


April 30, 2010 at 12:46 PM ·

You know, right now, being 7, I doubt Mercedes is offended by her videos being posted on the net. Most likely, she has no idea that this is something she should or could be offended by. What I worry about is her reaction to these and future videos posted of her when she gets *just a little bit* older... say age 10-12, and begins to access things like YouTube on her own. Imagine the reaction of a pre-adolescent who is no doubt *sure* she is the "best," having to read an endless number of comments talking about how "unmusical" or "immature" she is, and about the possibility of her parents having behaved inappropriately. Good-bye beautiful little musician, hello pre-teen identity crisis...

April 30, 2010 at 01:05 PM ·

Alison wrote "right now, being 7, I doubt Mercedes is offended by her videos being posted on the net. Most likely, she has no idea that this is something she should or could be offended by". 

Ditto, her playing ability...mechanical is all...reminds me of a wind-up doll my sister received for Christmas in the 50's

"I'm Winnie, I can walk and talk and I can sing..."


April 30, 2010 at 01:30 PM ·

Alison, no one blames directly this lovely kid and I'm sure she'll understand this. What quite a few scream about is this whole society phenomenon of pushing kids to do complex things publically when they are not ready as if it was a circus...

It's the "industry", society's behavious of  wanting to make stars when it's not yet the time...


April 30, 2010 at 01:59 PM ·

@ Ann-Marie: Yes, of course you and I know that no one blames Mercedes directly, and you and I know that the real issue is in soicetal perceptions etc., how do you know that she will understand this? I work with kids on a daily basis, and although Mecedes may indeed be the exception to the general rule, it's been my experience that all children are their own "center of the universe." Heck, they think you look at them funny and they're bursting into tears, or their friend calls them a "stupid-head" and they're running across the room wailing "he HAAAATES me," or say they miss a word while reading or miss a catch in gym class... they're down and out for an entire day. It is possible (*possible* is all I'm saying) that if this child grows to genuinely believe that she is the best, and later on accidentally finds out via the internet that this might not be true, before she is old enough to understand that the people commenting are not attacking her directly... it could be bad.

April 30, 2010 at 02:05 PM ·

My only concern about all children labeled "prodigy" whether well deserved or not, is that because they are so young and have the vast majority of their lives ahead of them I question if they will maintain their passion to perform. At seven (even 10) they will have their teens, 20's 30's ect. At some point from all the concertizing, even as their technical skill and musicality improves, they will hit the ceiling. Everything that could be played in the classical repertoire they would have done so many times over it's almost neauseating. 


Buri mentioned Vengerov and Midori, two prime examples, in my opinion, of child progdigies who have turned to the world of pedagogy. It is beautiful to see children play music like this, endearingly so, but we here know that at some point (perhaps sooner because of their early start) they will have to decide how much concertizing is enough, how much competition is enough, what other areas of this industry do I want to explore (contemporary repertoire, teaching, historical performance, administrative [professorship, artistic director,etc]?)

But my best wished to all those who go on stage to entertain the masses. We have a difficult job no matter our age or skill level. ;)

All the best.

April 30, 2010 at 02:08 PM ·

another beautiful day in the neighborhood, georgeous weather, somehow in contrast to the mood on this forum where the focus seems to be what may go wrong will go wrong...:)

pre-teen crisis?  how about we also talk about life long crises for some pro adult players to be fair, alison?   since classical music is going to be a rocky road for almost everyone, the realization that one may not be the best will be introduced at some time from somewhere.  assuming it will be coming from youtube or other media,  is it particularly worse than coming from other angles of  the society?

yixi gave an example of her pic used in public display without her having signed a consent for public release, a rarity in china.  well, yixi must be quite cute and good looking to be featured, so may want to take it as such. in a society where intellectuals were sent to the countryside to be reeducated, that gesture by her parents is perhaps one way to make something special of her for a better fate?  as the chinese saying goes,,,do you really know your parents' heart?   yixi has turned out be a highly accomplished professional.  dooms day did not come after all, whew. :)

buri showed wisdom as usual with his point that some kids enjoy competition or competitive environment.  sure, violin competitions are not meant to be horse races, but some kids are born race horses.  it is really a parent's call or gamble to gear up or dumb down with each child.   it is not a spectator sport.   again, not all  7 yo are the same and judging by the smile of mercedes after playing in that clip,  either she truly enjoyed her performance, proud of her delivery and hard work or she may be, there you go,  a child actor prodigy.

rosalind asked,,,dudes and dudettes, what were you thinking putting your kids' videos on youtube for us to browse when we have nothing better to do such as practicing violin?  first,  by answering that, will i further endanger the welfare of my kid, the concern originally put forth? :)    i think for every parent who has committed such sinful acts, there are perhaps multiple reasons, some more innocent, some perhaps more agenda driven.  i will put mine on display on a 1-10 self claimed innocence scale, 1 being really innocent, 10 being really bad bad scheming scamming rotten to the core yucky stuff.   here it goes...

a)  to show off   (given a 5 on that scale)

i still have baby photos of my kids in my wallet, along with my wedding photo and my pet dog.  and i will not hesitate whipping them out to show off whenever i see fit.  i see people driving around with bumper stickers to broadcast to the world that their kids are honor students.  good for them!  i am not jealous of their kids' achievements, nor concerned that the kids will be embarassed riding with that label.  i thank god their kids are doing well and not doing drugs and being losers, if you know what i mean.  i thank god i don't see stickers that says: MY KID IS IN REHAB, HELP.  show off that you or your children have worked hard and be proud.   when my kid was playing that vivaldi piece at the age of four, several months after starting the violin, fearlessly may i add, i was very close to losing bowl and urine control in the audience as a parent.  i want to share that experience on youtube.  any agenda other than to show off?  NOPE.  just plain show off.    with that video came comments of all colors.  crazy asian parenting, can't be 4 yo, must be a midget, yes suzuki, no suzuki, bad intonation, bad posture, etc, etc, etc.  do those comments bother us?  take a guess.

b)  to get feedback  ( 1 on the scale).  since i have put up those videos, mostly of her playing and practicing, i have received many many helpful comments.  some very good teachers even privately send suggestions and criticisms periodically which are simply priceless.  if i have not put her clip on a spanish piece on youtube and asked for feedback there and here,  anne marie, a very kind soul, could not possibly know i would appreciate her sending me recordings by repin.  it opens eyes and ears and broadens horizon.  but the fact is, my kid is really never ready in each video.  never will. could always be better.  so anne marie's concern that one should wait till one is ready will be a judgement call made by the parents, some have different perspectives, some more in a rush.  also,  because of those videos, my kid has been invited to numerous venues to perform which we have refused since she is not interested.  her response, duh, they must be kidding.   if she were interested, those performing opportunities would have helped her to gain better musicianship. 

c)  to get performing experience (1 on the scale).  she travels often for sports and we often miss violin recitals.  we feel that to play for youtube is a good substitute.  it helps document her progress.  everyone is nervous performing for others.  the youtube experience has helped her with that, simply knowing that some people would bother to tell you that you are not the best, not even close:)   after people tell you 10 times, you learn to focus even more by ignoring the noises.

d). to use youtube as a storage space ( yes a 10:)   thank god i have submitted those videos to youtube.  my computers over the years have crashed numerous times and i have each time lost all files.  

April 30, 2010 at 02:56 PM ·

My concern is when the child becomes the objet-d'art more so or instead of the music!  All children deserve to receive the dignity of being a humanbeing, it is their perogative.  The music must be the Objet d'art, not them.  Until this can be so, (which it has!) then, IMHO could I see them being a prodigy. Tenical complamenting Aesthetics with the dignity due a humanbeing. I. Pearlman comes to mind, though I must confess that I do not have an extensive knowledge of his life. If I am wrong, I apologize ahead of time.  And I am not against having a child share the joy of their precociousness!  Indeed, done so in a dignified manner is a great encouragement for the child!

April 30, 2010 at 02:59 PM ·

Alison said, "Heck, they think you look at them funny and they're bursting into tears, or their friend calls them a "stupid-head" and they're running across the room wailing "he HAAAATES me," 

You bring up a very important MINUS in the schooling and parenting of today...Nobody can take any sort of criticism...Everyone is a star...everyone gets an award...the beginning sour note stringsters get a "standing O" and now high-schoolers get to play in Carnegie Hall as long as they have the cash to rent the joint for 30 minutes before the next group of  "wunderkids" arrive. Are they "wunderkids"; of course not but Mom needs something to brag about while at Starbuck's... Even after speaking to a credit card company on the phone, they request a survey to tell them how well they did at answering your question.

We praise our mediocrity, and while this takes place India, Japan and China become stronger and wiser

April 30, 2010 at 08:45 PM ·


not convinced Japan is getting stronger and wiser but that may be the result of my presence.



April 30, 2010 at 10:26 PM ·

 In regard to dealing with neg comments/criticisms - she won't need to. Mercedes parents click the button to only allow approved comments to get through.  there actually aren't any that arent 100% glowing and confirming. To be honest, once you've read a few comments by people even toward stunning artists with maturity etc, you can see why parents would do this. There are some total dickheads out there. You tube, even children playing classical violin, attract the most stunning psychopaths.

I can't imagine a fine teacher at a conservatory or college, allowing an 18 year old + who has been playing well since they were in primary school, to "do" the repertoire at the pace that Mercedes dad is taking her through it. But maybe he has further plans in mind, we are still seeing a work in progress. Hopefully :)

May 1, 2010 at 01:46 AM ·

john, may i have another try?  is he at 7 a prodigy?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxjGZeK3Yzo

as a non musican listener, i thought he could use more basic studies, work on tone production more and perform easier pieces in public.  what is the rush?   he may ruin his future if he keeps up and may never play like this when he grows up:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enwapqUgrL4&feature=related


then read this: http://www.straight.com/article/ryu-goto

May 1, 2010 at 06:13 PM ·

Al, thanks for the links! sure some suceed very well despite beeing rushed in hard pieces young. You just found a perfect exemple with him!  But since quite a few had problems... all these stories of young prodigies who broke down at a point later or who never sounded like real artists afterwards just worry a few of us with concerns about kids like Mercedes... Nice but also "not so nice" stories occured with similar situations.  

Perhaps even more than the sound, what bothers me is when a 7 yo with a 7 yo sound is publicized on the net with even more puff than if it was an adult touring master.  This, no one can tell for sure and it's like telling that nowadays, young talented kids don't need to pregress anymore, that they are already Perlmans at 7...  I just don't buy this...  It's kind of pretentious and artificial "stardom"  from the advertizers to tell this with no certitude that the kid will become the next Perlman and even more to make us beleive he/she already is a star/master at 7yo!

Happy that you found a similar succes story!


May 1, 2010 at 06:34 PM ·

I read Ryo Goto was seeking a degree in Physics from Harvard and is a black belt in Karate...  Perhaps this shows that he values many things outside violin too! (again the question of "balance")  Pretty impressing to do all this!


May 1, 2010 at 10:11 PM ·

I read Ryo Goto was seeking a degree in Physics from Harvard and is a black belt in Karate...  Perhaps this shows that he values many things outside violin too!

It might also show that he is a highly gifted individual who learns things exceptionally fast.  Some might refer to that as being a prodigy.  Oops!  There's that blooper word again.  Sorry about that.  Let's just say he is not your average every day Joe -- neither is Mercedes nor Ellie Choi.  For these exceptionally gifted people, I say keep doing what you're doing, it is quite inspirational for us mere mortals.

May 1, 2010 at 10:53 PM ·

well said smiley.  it is important we put things into perspective and extract what can be useful and in this case, inspiring.  the negative connotation of prodigy should not overshadow positive elements from such performances.  that is truly my intention.

anne marie, concur with your points as well.  forcing a hand in this case can be counterproductive or even detrimental to everyone involved.  because of her talent, i hope, as i said in my very first post, that she gets better guidance, etc.  give this kid to a great great teacher with connection and clout,  they can formalize her prodiginess:):):).  come to think of it,,,if ryu goto were not born midori's half brother, just a joe from a family of joes, how likely that he would be just another physics teaching assistant in boston teaching violin and karate part time and hang with us on v.com? :)   you never know.

john, perlman is da man and a riot.  he melts everything with his presence.  still, if you want to learn from him, you'd better have some chops to spare first.  he is not going to hand it to you  which brings to the point you mentioned.  i think, to some degree, if managed well, competition can be very helpful.  some folks, talented may be, are just a bit lazy and lame:)   competition can bring out their spirit and potentials.  and if you know you are going to play in his master class, boy, i have a feeling you will practice like you never before:).  pressure can be good!

 i love how perlman using a story to really catch the essence of a bowing tech.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL6J8rT2VoY&feature=related

May 2, 2010 at 02:45 AM ·

I think it important that all kids have a childhood.  Obviously Mercedes is very bright, dexterous, and has learned much about the mechanics of violin playing in a short time.  I have the feeling that she is being pushed in extraordinary ways and has no time to be a child.  There is no joy in her body language or facial expression. She seems focused, compliant, and unhappy.  I get the feeling she is being pushed very hard to stroke the ego of her parents.  Her parents are probably living vicariously through her, and think their daughter a prodigy to share with the world.  Why else would they post these videos on you tube for all to see?  I always thought a prodigy was a child who played emotionally and technically like an adult.  True prodigies are very rare.  If you listen to an audio of Mercedes and are ignorant of her age I don't think any of you would be impressed with the music she makes. If she played from behind a screen her playing would probably make you cringe. It is extremely impressive is that she was able to digest all those notes at such a young age, however I am just worried she was force fed those notes by being made to practice hours on end.  There is no telling how she will develop when she grows up.  I just think it cruel to chance robbing kids of their childhood to fulfill the wild expectations of their parents .  What is the rush to become a violinist?  I just  hope my observations are wrong and actually Mercedes is a happy well rounded kid.

May 2, 2010 at 03:28 AM ·

michael, those concerns are valid, echoed by others, as long as we acknowledge that what she and her family are truly like are pure conjectures.  to play the devil's advocate and to balance the tide of having vacarious parents living off this little creature, put me down as someone who speculates that she actually enjoys playing the violin and enjoys playing hard pieces even beyond her abilities.  you know, people can be different.  or even want to be different.  to some in some cultures, happiness means computer games, sleepovers, going to movies, etc; to others in other cultures, happiness means developing a sense of accomplishment, responsibility and respect for hard work early...  imagine that.

you mentioned something of interest,  that she projects certain emotions to you (perhaps the basis of your concerns).

you said that she looked focused and unhappy.  to be honest, when some violinists focus, they look worse: constipated or having partial seizures.  is it therefore ok to not look happy or joyful when focused you think? after all, we are not talking about playing twinkle twinkle little star here,,, 

we are blessed with wonderful recordings from many great violinists who had devoted their entire childhoods honing their skills on the violin.  to put it bluntly, without their sacrificed childhoods, they would not be great because they would make people "cringe".  so which is it that we want here?  great artists or great childhoods?   v.com or social service?


May 2, 2010 at 05:08 AM ·

I wonder how can one be unhappy when focused? One usually is the happest when focused and unhappy when unable to do so.

May 2, 2010 at 05:36 AM ·

Who's to say great artists can't have great childhoods?  I am not sure one has to suffer or make unusual sacrifices to become a great artist.  I've heard too many horror stories about children being pushed too hard at a young age who grow up unhappy and scarred emotionally.  Some of these children rebel, burn out, and give up violin when they grow older.  Obviously a prospective violinist has to start at a young age, have some self motivation, and put in time and hard work to become successful.  I just don't see the need in most cases to push young children to perform Paganini.   Playing all the notes of a Paganini caprice is a great accomplishment but has nothing to do with artistry. Because of early training  and better teaching methods there are thousands of people who can master Paganini.  I think people with the talent and a musical heart will rise to the top,and it is probably better if they do it in a way that allows them to have full well rounded lives.

May 2, 2010 at 12:19 PM ·

michael, as i said, your concerns are definitely very important.  as a parent, everyday i have to ask myself if my suggestions can actually cause harm, or make things worse.   i hope i can learn to do better each day, with help from my spouse, friends, family, teachers and above all, feedback from my kids.  believe me, it is not easy to do, because often, in view of conflicting schedules and interests, children's own wishes may not get granted, at least not right here and right now.  we are literally experimenting with our kids with no manual for reference.  prognosis: guarded but cautiously optimistic.  if we overcook or undercook, we cannot start over. 

who is to decide if good artists have good or bad childhood?  no one except themselves, possibly years later on reflection, probably not when parents tell the disappointed kids to stop computer gaming for the 4th hour. i suspect the definition of a good or happy childhood also evolves at the person matures.  you do not have to dig too deep to appreciate the general consensus that the road to classical musical success is paved with, more often than not, hours after hours of hard practice childhood onwards.  many on this thread maintain the notion that if you do so, you risk missing out the fun part of the childhoold and therefore you have had an unhappy childhood which therefore is concerning.  yet,  the last group to consult imo is us because we do not have all the facts.  it is as good as a general advice to remind others to look left and right before crossing a road. 

struggling through a paganini piece does not necessarily mean the player is necessarily unhappy with the outcome.  i myself will be thrilled if i can accomplish that.  i don't think mercedes struggled through her performance.   some argued that she did nothing more than playing just the notes.  i think that is a very harsh verdict.  it is possibly appropriate for self criticism, not to a child player at her level of playing.   

ps. friend of mine is penning a book on competition koi raising.  this list of chapters reminds me of what parents have to go through raising their kids...

2. ’43 – ’71 – Early Times – 0 to 28y/o.

3. ‘72 – ‘75 – ‘From Rookie to Beginner’ – 29 – 32y/o
4. ‘76 – ‘80 – ‘From Beginner to Know-It-All’ – 33 – 37y/o
5. ‘81 – ‘85 – ‘From Know-It All’ to ‘Know Nothing At All’ – 38 – 42y/o
6. ‘86 – ‘90 – ‘From Know Nothing At All’ to ‘Realisation’ – 43 – 47y/o
7. ‘91 – ‘95 – ‘From Realisation to Learning’ – 48 – 52y/o
8. ‘96 – ‘00 – ‘From Learning to Stardom’ – 53 – 57y/o
9. 01 – ‘05 – ‘From Stardom to Disaster’ – 58 – 62y/o
10. ‘06 – ‘10 – ‘From Disaster to Reflection’ – 63 – 67y/o

May 2, 2010 at 01:22 PM ·

Michael, 100% agree with you and this is what I though too when I listen to the videos of her. She has potential and will maybe (I say maybe because this is never sure) become a excellent professionnal violinist! But for now, the playing is mechanics and really not ready/mature. If one thinks a prodigy is someone who can play many notes, then she is one without doubts... But for those who think a prodigy is someone who can play a masterpiece as well (or almost) as a master at a young age, she's definitivly not (for now).  Everything depend on what one defines as a prodigy.  I personnally agree with the second definition I gave.  This doesn't mean that I don't recognize efforts of kids like Mercedes! 

For looking happy, even the greatest master who didn't move much looked somehow happy or at least had an expression "of freedom" when playing.  I don't find very pushed kids have any of these. Do they really enjoy it is the question... (but I can't answer to this. It's just my impression!)


May 2, 2010 at 01:44 PM ·

Michael is right too that a true artist isn't always someone who was overpushed (it can but not always) ...

Auer said if you can't make it 3 hours a day, pack it all and don't bother. (or something in this vein...)

I recently watch a video of the life of Jacqueline Du Pré, a true remarquable cello master (born in the 1940s) that brough Rostropovich to say she would be about the only one in the youngsters good ennough to continue the great tradition of cello as the one he was part of.  Was was noticeble is the fact that she told she never was interested to spend every hour of her life on cello, that she was not a profession "maniac".  She always looked very very happy. 

We would like to think the best were always the most "maniacs" about the instrument but it seems that not always.  In the same way that I observed that, at school in science, it's not always those who are very pushed and work their b... off that succeed the most.  Some yes, but many of those who succeed just have a little "je ne sais quoi" that does allow them to always be very relaxed, succeed and have a ton of fun in life. (Perhaps they have so much talent that they can allow themselves to not work like a maniac...)  In the same vein, quite a few great masters were very naughty and rebellious to not say lazy kids in their childhood...

So, if someone is meant to become a prodigy (born in a good context too...), they will become one sooner or later and they won't all have been overpushed at first stages...  Beeing overpushed works with those we see (but how many we never saw who burned out or became quite odd as a result of beeing overpushed, this is the question ; )

Just a few thoughs (sorry if I repeat!)




May 2, 2010 at 01:55 PM ·

In all fairness we have to also acknowledge that these thoughts and feelings that we have been voicing is coming more from the impressions of one video.  If we were her next door neighbor, or family friend, family member more than likely we would have quite a different opinion.

Honestly we have been voicing what we think more so than what we know.  Any of us could be right on the money just as much as we are in error.

May 2, 2010 at 02:10 PM ·

al ku, A Happy childhood is important but it might be more important having the opportunity to explore other interests so one can be well rounded.  My daughter started to play violin when she was four.  She was a fast learner and practiced diligently for one half to an hour every day.  There were times when I thought if she spent four hours a day she too could play Paganini by the time she was eight.  I don't know why but most kids that are good with music also excel at other things.  She always an A student, loved art , and had lots of nice friends.  She went to a middle magnet school and majored in Japanese. She was a busy girl. I couldn't justify prodding her to do more than she did on violin and figured if she decided to play violin as a profession she would just have to catch up later.  When she was in middle school she bumped up her  practice to about two hours a day because she decided she wanted to major in violin performance in college.  She auditioned, got into top schools with decent scholarships.  At first it was frustrating because there were other kids in her studio that were technically ahead of her.  Some of those kids had careers started already.  I told her that if she worked hard she would catch up and that  she should try to learn and be inspired by  her talented studio.  She now is in graduate school and has basically caught up technically. She is doing well musically as witnessed by all the wonderful opportunities she is having.  We are optimistic that she has a good chance to have a career for herself in music. 

There are however genuine prodigies.  I know of several who from a very early age were driven to practice on their own and played so beautifully it would bring tears to your eyes.  The repertoire they play doesn't always  have to be the most challenging but they play with an inner soul and  a sound mature way beyond their years.

I agree with you that Mercedes deserves praise, not deserve harsh criticism.  Unfortunately because her parents put these videos on youtube that is what she will subjected to.

May 2, 2010 at 06:31 PM ·

"I agree with you that Mercedes deserves praise, not deserve harsh criticism.  Unfortunately because her parents put these videos on youtube that is what she will subjected to."

Very true and it's not exactly a traditional "look at my kid" youtube video as many parents put... It's basically some youtubes videos with a lot of superlatives and a very eveident link to a website where they tell as if she is already a guenine great artist and they make all an event out of her... (see how it can spearks much more controversy than just a normal video of "here is our talented daughter practicing Paganini...") 

But of course any kids that puts efforts deserve praise for their dedication and intelligence, I guess it just depends how it is done and how is presented the video. 


May 4, 2010 at 12:26 PM ·

michael, it is gratifying to read that your daughter is doing well with a balanced approach, something easier said/suggested than done.  we all want to excel in whatever that interest us, but we often have to compromise due to level of potential and other limitations such as time, funding and contacts, etc.   it seems that your daughter is on the right track of her own design. kudos.  some kids need to be on a 50/50 track, others, perhaps 75/25 track.

the flip side of the coin is that some if not a few kids are born with the talent to seek the soloist road, the 99/1 track (100/0 track for some asian/jewish families:).  the question that arises with that situation is at what percentage it will be the most optimal  to enhance their career development.   would sarah chang have been better off not skipping schools for performance for the sake of maintaining a balanced childhood?  i don't presume to know...

and, i want to emphasize again it is short sighted to look at a 7 yo as if it is a finished product.  may have to try to look through the eyes of an experienced teacher who sees tremendous amt of potential and knows how to turn small knobs for big changes,,,in addition, lets look at the top 20 soloists right now.  there is a good chance that michael's top 5 is different from anne-marie's and different from mine.  our perception on younger players also follow the same reasoning.

and, as i have said before, parents who parade their kids on youtube are not that normal.  just look at me as an example:)  however, as adult viewers,  we may need to exercise some judgement in regard to our reactions to the format and presentation of the videos.  ok, the parents are pathetic, the kids may not be.  how do we throw the baby out with the bath water...you tell me.

which reminds me of something yixi brought up, saying that mr fischer talked about being proportionate (to be honest, i did not read about that and so do not know the context).  well, being passionate and being proportionate is at odds if you think about.  evah parazzi advertises that i love the sound so much i just can't stop playing, not i love the sound so much but i know not to play too much.  when parents are passionate about their kids' involvement with music, when teachers are passionate about their students' performance (menuhin once called sarah chang the perfect violinist), who is to put a lid on it just to be proportionate?

May 4, 2010 at 02:20 PM ·

"would sarah chang have been better off not skipping schools for performance for the sake of maintaining a balanced childhood?  i don't presume to know..."

Interesting, Sarah Chang is one of my favorites! Yes all these kids have skipped school a few times of course ; )  But I have heard Sarah Chang so often tell that her parents insisted to send her to normal school with normal 6-7 yo beeings so that she makes friends with them.  They didn't want her to be just with the super bright/talented beeings.  So they didn't inscribed her in a special art school program.  She only went on weekends to follow her lessons in Julliard (and she didn't live in New York). She also said many times that even if people all think she did just violin, it was not true. I remember she told this in an interview and added "in fact, violin was just one of my hobbies" I know, in her case that there were many others as ballet and horseback riding.

If we look at her situation through this angle, it might support what a few tell about the fact that the best artists are born and not that much made.... or "over" made.  This didn't keep her from playing the great works well fairly young!  I have a CD of her in her teens and it's just as beautiful as the big masters! 

Again I agree with you that their is no magic receipies for any of these talented kids!  And balance is something everyone (even normal) struggle to find nowadays... 

Part of this is nowadays society issues...  (I won't start back ; )   I agree too that there is as much definition of everything as people!

Have a nice day!


May 4, 2010 at 04:11 PM ·

>Again I agree with you that their is no magic receipies for any of these talented kids!

Actually, I believe the magic (talent, discipline, prodigiousness, call it whatever you want) lies in the fact that these kids are capable, willing, coercible into practicing ungodly hours each day from a very young age.  If they are being forced into it and hate playing, then I agree that they are missing their childhood, but if it is their passion and they are doing it by their own choice, then I say more power to them AND their parents.  They should keep doing what they're doing because the world will one day appreciate all their hard work.  Some even appreciate it now (e.g., Al Ku, myself, perhaps others).

May 4, 2010 at 05:32 PM ·

@ Smiley-

Well, as a kid I needed no coercing into practicing/playing.  I loved it from the get go. as a matter-of-fact other things suffered neglect because of practicing/playing so much!  True, there are kids out there that are a sad case of forced practice/performance because they do show promise.  I believe I read or heard that Ludwig von Beethoven was such a case; that his father recognized potential and made Ludwig slave over a piano hours on end daily!  It is sad that there are such extreme cases with a child's guardian saying, "You'll thank me for this someday". However children have to be reared and not every case of a parent taking the initiative to motivate them to such things as, "Time to do your homework, Brush your teeth, time to tidy your room, time for you to study...you have tests coming up, Time to turn off the TV/Computer/video games/ and practice, ect., ect." is at the point of abuse.  I know that you and Al and many others here know this.  But there are some that truly push it beyond and to the extreme and that is what you and I and others hope is not the case with the videos that are out there of very young advanced musicians.

But if any of us suspect that it may be the case with a video what can any of us do?

May 4, 2010 at 05:44 PM ·

>I wonder how can one be unhappy when focused? One usually is the happiest when focused and unhappy when unable to do so.

That's a gem, Yixi.

May 4, 2010 at 06:24 PM ·

"Well, as a kid I needed no coercing into practicing/playing."

well, i suspect royce was not talking about when he was 2-4 yo when some of the current kids are starting, pretty much due to parent's insistence, before they have a chance or the ability to think things over.  in fact, for very young kids to love the sound of violin AND to be able to sit/stand still or through practice sessions for more than 5- 10 minutes at a time,  it is a miracle.

some kids i know (like mine for instance) enjoy being challenged to try things on the next higher level, but even they may be frustrated if demanded to perform 10 levels higher.  imo, what each kid is capable of is not difficult to assess by parents and teachers.  on top of that, the child's interest also runs a gamut from total dislike  to tolerable to it's cool to i just luv it. 

from my observation, asian parents tend to more easily override their children's own thoughts due to the cultural truism that the parents know better.  so i am not surprised at all to see the many asian faces in juilliard pre-college for instance.    they may not end up as great artists, but their techniques and artistry have been worked on  while other more free-style families are still debating/politiking the issues over the kitchen table.  perhaps great artists can come out of free style family environment, but in the field of classical violin, correct me if i am wrong, the odds is just not favorable. 

so the bottom line is: if you set out to do something, would you choose the path with the best chance or the worst chance?  most families, knowing full well that their kids are not that talented to start with, choose the best chance route through hard work and persistence.  the dumber you look, the harder we try, son.  there was a thread not long ago lamenting on the dominant number of korean players in those serious competitions.  not surprising at all if one looks at its culture, built on hard work.  you may outsmart me, but i will outwork you.  are there violin teachers out here who do not appreciate that attitude?  how often do you tell your students...take it easy, little johnny, you are working too hard...

May 4, 2010 at 08:04 PM ·

well, i suspect Royce was not talking about when he was 2-4 yo when some of the current kids are starting, pretty much due to parent's insistence, before they have a chance or the ability to think things over.  in fact, for very young kids to love the sound of violin AND to be able to sit/stand still or through practice sessions for more than 5- 10 minutes at a time,  it is a miracle.

Well, actually (it is up to you to believe it or not) when I was that young I went on for hours making anything into a musical instrument. and when I Finlay got a real instrument I went bananas playing and practicing. By Kindergarten my family was bombarded with recommendations to get me into lesson! During those times my mother owned a piano.  Anything I heard her play I figured out by ear the melody lines. Teacher after musical teacher encouraged my family to get me formal lessons! I was one of the most remarkable ear players they had come across but my family could not afford any of this... Mom had to give the piano back because the payments could not be afforded. I will give you my mother's email address, my auntie who you must correspond snail mail, and they can have you contact my uncle. With only 2 years of choir training I made All State Texas 5-A choir. I was coveted by just about every music teacher I ever met and when we could not afford lessons several offered to teach me for free.

I have what is called... Borderline Savant Tendencies by two mental health agencies.

May 4, 2010 at 08:13 PM ·

Sounds to me like Royce fits the bill of a modern day Mozart. 

May 4, 2010 at 08:37 PM ·

or a true prodigy!

thanks royce for sharing that fascinating part of your experiences. 

May 4, 2010 at 09:15 PM ·

Mozart Smiley? No.... just royce... and that's good enough for my family, friends, and me... Since I have been on psychotropic meds, self medicating with other substances since I was 19 I am a little more above average these days and nowere near I was before I was 19 and had my biggest breakdown.

May 4, 2010 at 10:44 PM ·

There is a fine line between true genius and insanity.  Given his prodigious abilities, Mozart was almost certainly a savant -- with musical prowess beyond comprehension, but pretty dis-functional as a  person.  If he were alive today as a little boy, I am quite certain his parents would be parading him around on youtube.  Would that be considered exploitation of a little boy -- I think not.  To forbid him from spending hours a day on music, would be like trying to keep a duck out of water. Ducks are made to be in the water, just like some kids are wired to be musicians.



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