The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tiarnan and the Piano

Yesterday, when I called home, I heard someone in the background on the piano. It was not an entirely disorderly attempt to coax music from it. Keys were sounded in sequence, from various parts of the keyboard, there was an effort at rhythm at times - and there was a sense of someone seeking the Mystery behind the piano.

"Can you hear Tiarnan on the piano?", asked Syahidah, my wife.

I could, and I listened for awhile. What was clear was that individual keys were being pressed in sequence - and not just whole areas of keys being depressed at once.

"He is sitting on the bench," she continued, "and you should see his face!"

"Concentrated is he?"


I imagined that look in my mind: a look he shared with his brothers when they got something into their heads to interest them. It was like Fintan when he drew art: an intense absorption in the task, to the exclusion of all else. Tiarnan was trying to work out how to play the piano, simply by experimenting with it.

Now, Tiarnan has just turned fifteen months old - and this playing with the piano reminded me of another time, over three months ago.

That time he wanted to go up on the bench, but didn't find it as easy as he did, this time, on his own. So I had helped him up onto it. Then he had picked at the keyboard, key by key, listening to each sound, sometimes depressing the key several times in a row as he appreciated each note. He hadn't just bashed at it: he had systematically studied what sounds it made, whether those sounds were reproducible - and listened to them individually. It was quite a surprising set of actions for a first contact with a piano. He had not proceeded randomly, but had approached it with order in mind - and the need to understand the range of sounds on offer, one by one.

Then, too, he had been very absorbed in the task and very keen to hear each note and understand what it meant to him. When it came time to do something else, he hadn't wished to be dragged away.

Watching him interact with the piano in this way, spontaneously, without guidance, makes me wonder at how much children determine their own path and their own interests. I really am coming to think that the most healthy upbringing is one guided by the child's natural choices and inclinations. Tiarnan seems to be making a choice of music as one of his interests since he seeks out the piano, himself and tries to make music out of it.

The first time I heard him on the piano, he sought to experience individual notes; this time he appeared to be trying patterns, of some kind - trying to make music.

At some point, we are going to have to give him a formal chance to learn the piano, it seems.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:45 AM 


Anonymous KCLau said...

Tiaman definitely need a great piano teacher. I know one 6 years old piano prodigy at Hollywood. He was paid $400 for 15-minute performance!

5:49 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

We will have to find him one. I think a great teacher, however, is as rare as a great student. Both are hard to find, and should be treasured when discovered!

We will have to look around for someone with passion, at some point.

What was the name of the prodigy?

Best wishes

6:18 PM  
Anonymous TUG said...

Speaking of piano prodigies, I read that actor Gray-Cabey (from the drama Heroes which revolves around people with special "gifts") started playing the piano before the age of 2. His Heroes co-star Masi Oka, reportedly has an IQ of 180. Some cast!


7:20 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I, too, enjoy Heroes...but I didn't know anything about the cast apart from their characters. Thanks for filling in some details!

Best wishes

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think, kclau refers to marc yu.

8:38 PM  

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