Prodigies, Humanity & Culture

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Learning Objects (15)

Direct Access Links:

The Secrets of Exceptional Memory Revealed (GE Reports)
Child Prodigy-A Novel Cognitive Profilee (Elsevier)
The Mind of the Prodigy (Scientific American)
A Performance of “Mathemagic”” (TED)
Music & Math: The Genius of Beethoven (TED)
Past & Present Child Prodigies of Classical Music (Classic FM)
Dashed Hopes for 20th Century Math, Literature & Poetry Prodigies (Smithsonian)
Umi Garrett – A Child Prodigy Today (Ellen Degeneres Show)
The Power of Music (TED)
The Power of Music – As Nonverbal Communication / Bringing Hope & Strength to those in Need (TED)
Prodigy Lang Lang – Honoring his Father & Preserving Culture (loft Music)
Prodigy Yo-Yo Ma Reflects on Life, Culture & Humanity (David Rubenstein Show)
Hilary Hahn’s Journal & Postcards (Hilary Hahn)
Piano Lessons with Lang Lang
Classical Up Close: Lang Lang


Experts tend to consider child prodigy as a distinct form of giftedness. In contrast with a child of great general ability / intelligence, the prodigy tends to have a more focused, specialized, and domain-specific form of giftedness in the rule-based fields such as music, math, art or chess.

Researchers have discovered that in nearly all cases of child prodigy, the child also possesses exceptional working memory skills with one suggesting that geniuses store their memory in a different part of the brain. This suggests that their memories are not just better but physically / biologically different, a product of being born with a very efficient neural network system. To learn how to become a memory athlete see PBL Lounge at The Art of Memory.


The Role of Memory in Child Prodigies

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The Secrets of Exceptional Memory Revealed

The prodigal talents of the Tiessen brothers, Josh and Zac, brought them to world attention at a very young age. Josh is acknowledged as one of the world’s masters of modern realism, and Zac is a brilliant guitarist. The Canadian brothers just “came this way”, say their parents, who home-schooled them from early on.


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Child Prodigy-A Novel Cognitive Profile

Both child prodigies and autistic savants present a paradox—extreme talent—when and where it should not exist. The prevalence of autism in the prodigies’ families combined with the prodigies’ elevated scores on attention to detail suggest significant new common ground between child prodigies and another group of exceptional performers: autistic savants.


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The Mind of the Prodigy

Prodigies dazzle us with their virtuoso violin concertos, seemingly prescient chess moves and vivid paintings.  But why are they so driven to practice?

The Magic of Math

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A Performance of “Mathemagic”

Using daring displays of algorithmic trickery, lightening calculator and number wizard Arthur Benjamin mesmerizes audiences with mathematical mystery and beauty. In a lively show, mathemagician Arthur Benjamin races a team of calculators to figure out 3-digit squares, solves another massive mental equation and guesses a few birthdays. How does he do it? He’ll tell you.


Intersection of Math & Music


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Music & Math: The Genius of Beethoven

How is it that Beethoven, who is celebrated as one of the most significant composers of all time, wrote many of his most beloved songs while going deaf? The answer lies in the math behind his music. Natalya St. Clair employs the “Moonlight Sonata” to illustrate the way Beethoven was able to convey emotion and creativity using the certainty of mathematics. Lesson by Natalya St. Clair, animation by Qa’ed Mai.


Musical Prodigies Past & Present

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Past & Present Child Prodigies of Classical Music

Classic FM takes a look at some of the young musicians who achieved great things before they hit 18. Go on, be inspired!


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Dashed Hopes for 20th Century Math, Literature & Poetry Prodigies

While every generation produces its share of precocious children, no era, before or since, seems to have been so obsessed with them. Contributing to the prodigy craze was a change in the nature of news itself. The early 20th century marked the rise of tabloid newspapers, which put greater emphasis on human interest stories. Few subjects were of more human interest than children.

Were these child prodigies who failed to achieve their own dreams or someone else’s? Did the dreams belong to the parents or the public who was obsessed with them? Did their lack of later achievement amount to failures or success  in living life on their own terms, free from the demands of being a prodigy?


Tracking Prodigy Umi Garrett

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Umi Garrett – A Child Prodigy Today

Umi Garrett is a phenomenon. She is known to the world as the 10 year old girl who can play the piano upside down. Classically trained, Umi made headlines all over the world after appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show in 2011 and wowing audiences; she’s played concerts in places like Steinway Hall in New York City and with amazing people like those of the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra, all in a 3-year span.


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The Power of Music

Umi became the winner of the First Prize at the 13th Osaka International Music Competition in Japan, the Chopin International Competition Chopin Plus in Budapest, Hungary, and the Grand Prix award at the Chopin International Competition in Hartford, Connecticut. Umi was recently granted a prestigious title of the Young Steinway Artist. She is studying piano with Professor John Perry and Mrs. Mina Perry.

The Power of Music – As Nonverbal Communication / Bringing Hope & Strength to those in Need 

How can music convey our passions and make a difference? In this talk, classical pianist Umi Garrett performs several of her favorite pieces while discussing how music serves as both a form of communication and a way for her to help others.

The Humanity & Culture of Music

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Prodigy Lang Lang – Honoring his Father & Preserving Culture

Celebrated in all the music capitals of the world, 22-year-old Lang Lang has demonstrated an extraordinary level of musicianship in the widest range of repertoire. His artistry and ability to connect with audiences on a personal level has established him as an international sensation and one of the most exciting and charismatic artists of our time. Below Lang Lang performs with his father (Lang Guo-ren) – “Two Horses” – at Carnegie Hall on November 7, 2003.

Lang Lang’s father plays an erhu, a traditional Chinese instrument. It is two-stringed and sometimes known in the Western world as a Chinese violin or two-stringed fiddle. The erhu can be played as a solo instrument, in small ensembles or an orchestra. It is the most popular of the huqin family of traditional bowed string instruments used by various ethnic groups of China. As a very versatile instrument, the erhu is used in both traditional and contemporary music arrangements. 

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Prodigy Yo-Yo Ma Reflects on Life, Culture & Humanity

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who first performed on TV and for President John F. Kennedy at the age of 7, is interviewed by financier and philanthropist David Rubenstein. Yo-Yo discusses how studying anthropology at Harvard had a profound effect on his life and his music. The world’s most dominant figure in classical music today says that mastering an instrument is for the purpose of expression, it finds your voice. Regardless of where Yo-Yo plays in the world, and regardless of the audience – the most important thing is to be fully present, totally engaged. His advice – whatever you do – make it count. Music is a symbol of importance to culture.


Follow the Travel Journal of Prodigy Hilary Hahn

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Hilary Hahn’s Journal & Postcards

Hilary Hahn was a child prodigy who has made the jump to full classical stardom. Here is a glimpse of her at 15 years old.  Now in her 40s and a three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist, Hilary’s barrier-breaking attitude towards classical music and her commitment to sharing her experiences with a global community have made her a fan favorite. Hahn is a prolific recording artist and commissioner of new works. Having engaged in a project to send students postcards from around the world from everywhere she traveled, Hilary chose to journal and continue to write postcards. Visit her website and explore the world with her – through her words as well as her music.


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Have Some Fun – Let’s Learn to Play Piano!

Piano Lessons with Lang Lang

Introducing the first “Lang Lang Lessons” videos. Some will be music, some will be life lessons. Today’s mini-lesson is the C major scale!

Classical Up Close: Lang Lang


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Ontology Tags Arts & Entertainment: Mirror of Society – Music as Form of Communication | Health & Health Services: Decoding the Human Body – Nuances of the Mind | Societies: (1) Applaud Genius in Our Midst – (a) Savants (b) Exceptional IQ & Talent (2) Inhabiting Our World – Cultures & Ethnicity

Search Terms Media-Produced: Artistic Composition – Journal & Diary Challenging Problems: (1) Questions – (a) Assist Others (b) Compassion for the Unknown (2) Physical World – Human Body (3) Humans in the World – (a) Civilizations &  Cultures (b) Humanitarian Issues (4) Of The Mind – Intelligence & Learning | Intended Learning Outcomes: Instilled Citizenship Values: (1) Express Empathy & Compassion (2) Habits of Mind & Heart (3) Social Responsibility | Success Skills & Depth of Knowledge: Learning Styles & Intelligences – (1) Logical & Mathematical (2) Musical & Rhythmic (3) Visual & Spatial | CTEs & Disciplines: (1) Arts & Entertainment (2) Authorship & Composition (3) Arts Studies (4) Music Studies (5) Nonverbal Communication (6) Anthropology & Archeology