10:28am Saturday 11 July 2020

Child prodigies: born or made?

Beginning piano at two and a talented performer by six, Tiffany’s story has intrigued Melbourne Conservatorium Director Professor Gary McPherson since he first met her in Hong Kong eight years ago.  He has since aided her musical development and helped her find a place in the prestigious Juilliard School of Music’s pre-college program in New York.

Professor McPherson, who is also a member of the Centre for Mind, Music and Wellbeing at the University and who has published widely on cognitive and social process of acquiring musical competencies describes Tiffany as a ‘prodigy’ and expects her to “blow her audience away” when she performs for them on Wednesday.

Prior to the recital, Professor McPherson will give a talk – ‘Musicians: Born or Made?’ in which he will explore ideas of nature/nurture, and the environmental pre-conditions and personal pre-dispositions that go into making up the gifted child performer.

“I believe that extraordinary ability and interest in music is a learned, or acquired behaviour,” Professor McPherson said.

“There is scientific evidence to suggest that if children become intensely motivated in a particular area early in life, that developmental pattern is replicated in other parts of the brain and fundamentally ‘laid down’, such that the child can build on the equipping skills of concentration and self-determination established while young, which is then reflected in their level of ability.”

Professor McPherson said there are three key psychological drivers related to giftedness.
“A gifted person typically will take great pleasure in their own sense of competence,” he says.  “In addition a strong sense of connectedness and relatedness is vital.  In Tiffany’s case she gets lots of support and enjoys a mutually satisfying relationship with her parents and her teachers, through the medium of her piano playing.

“And thirdly and perhaps most importantly, a feeling of autonomy is important.  Tiffany studies hard and pushes herself because she wants to, not to please anyone else.”

What:         Tiffany Poon recital and talk by Professor Gary McPherson
When:        Tuesday 19 July 2011 at 7.30pm
Where:       Melbourne Recital Centre, Southbank
Tix/More:    www.cmmw.unimelb.edu.edu

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