Archive for category Violin Videos

Violin Prodigy Elli Choi: The Nature vs Nurture Debate

I don’t mind kicking around the nature vs nurture debate, but after watching a video of Elli Choi playing violin, it feels like a waste of time. I believe environment and practice is important, but the genetic component is simply undeniable.

ENVIRONMENT
It’s true Elli exists in an environment conducive to greatness. She attends good schools, has wildly dedicated parents and access to incredible teachers at a top music program. While her environment is somewhat unusual and enviable, it isn’t completely unique.

PRACTICE
There’s been talk on the BAVs group this week about talent. The group mentions Outliers: The Story of Successby Malcolm Gladwell (based on research by K. Anders Ericsson) and his assertion that the best players are simply practicing longer. Maybe so… But according to Elli’s interview on the Bonnie Hunt Show (just before she played Sarasate’s Introduction et tarantella at age 7), she practices about 1-2 hours per day. Let’s try the math: starting about age 3 = no more than 4 years x 365 days x 2 hours per day = 2920 hours of practice. (Even double the practice time, as she is reported to do in preparation for a performance and you have 5840 hours.) I’d wager there are lesser talents logging in longer hours.

IS IT ALL IN THE GENES?
Elli’s mother is a Berlin-educated concert pianist, but that fact could be placed on both sides of the debate. The pitiful remnants of information I’ve retained from college Biology classes leaves me at a loss to provide any factual data to support my claim that Elli is genetically “gifted”… Just watch the videos.

WHAT I *REALLY* BELIEVE
I think having the debate of nature vs nurture (or what makes a violin prodigy) is like arguing whether it’s hydrogen or oxygen that makes water. You simply can’t have one without the other. (If you’re thirsty for water, anyway.)

OTHER BOOKS ABOUT  WHERE TALENT ORIGINATES

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Twinkle with Harmony or Everyone Look Happy for the Camera

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Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with Harmony Take 1 (in 1 Take).

Suzuki parents (and students) back me up here: listening to / playing the Twinkle Variations gets OLD. Sure they’re good for you, like Brussels Sprout, and you might even like eating them… the first 9,999 days. But, and I’m pretty sure there’s a book about this on my to-read list, after day 10,000 who wants to eat that again? It doesn’t even smell like something edible, let’s be honest. Finding creative ways to break up the monotony is your only hope. You add some melted cheese on those sprouts, or a Hollandaise sauce.

That’s why I was so excited to get my copy of Trio Book: Suzuki Violin Arranged for Three Violins yesterday. It has harmony parts to the Suzuki Books 1-3 repertoire. Today the boy and I tried out the Twinkles and some Folk Songs. In the video above we tackle Twinkle Twinkle Little Star à la Mein Trio-Buch.

I promise to read Suzuki Parent’s Diary: Or How I Survived My First 10,000 Twinkles and cook up some more fun things to try. In the meantime, what tips can you share for keeping things interesting in the early days of practice? Are you a 10,000 Twinkles survivor? I want to hear about it.

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