Mozart on the Gong Show?

Stealthily snapped by our photographer before a stern reprimand.

So, we all know that Mozart was a child prodigy, composing his first work at 5 or 6 years old.  It wasn’t as if he just suddenly put pen to paper and crafted something amazing.  This was through plenty of parental coaching and teaching.  The amazing part is his soft, mushy brain was able to absorb that information and somehow focus his brainpower on developing wondrous pieces of music instead of naming bugs or throwing mudpies at girls.  I am guessing he wasn’t spending too many afternoons down on the Salzach with a fishing rod in hand.  It was said in the day, that it would be many generations to see a talent like his again. And it likely will be.

Think of kids these days, distracted by team sports, TV, video games, and worst of all…social network sites.  How many hours a day does a child fill his day with idle entertainment when they too could have that prodigal gene…a skill masked and eventually lost to the rest of the world because of Angry Birds. Now I am not saying that everyone should cut the cord.  Technology has already done that for us with confusing wireless router setups and bluetooth syncing to random devices I was sure I must recognize.  To force offspring into any form of musical or physical activity to hope one day you can demonstrate to your friends that your loins spawned a meal ticket, it just isn’t the answer.  It has worked on occasion between cooperative parent and kid, but we see on too many occasions the rebellion occurring during those teen years where all practice is traded in for underage drinking and sneaking out of the house.

The question then arises, how and when do we discover genius?  Leonardo da Vinci was considered a genius.  During life he was an artist and sculptor.  All technological advancements, such as his dabbling in anatomy and helicopter designs, were simply hobbies on the side.  It was only after his death, and the development of technologies that could make his sketches reality, that the true visionary and multi-talented da Vinci was duly noted.  Even Wayne Gretzky was considered to be genius on the ice, yet to compare him to today’s skilled hockey players, and even better goaltenders…he certainly would have been above average, but maybe not in a class of his own as the game evolves.

Genius is more about pioneering.  After demonstrating to the world what you can do, there is the option have others emulate your fantastic skill…or keep their distance as your ‘genius’ makes you just too weird to be around.  And as for a child prodigy these days, it seems as if the few that are discovered are displayed on television talent shows for their few minutes of fame, then shuffled off to the side.  Back in Mozart’s day, he wasn’t pitted against a trio from Vienna that danced with fire-breathing lions while playing accordions on a one legged chair.  For the most part everyone appreciated such artist endeavours as one would appreciate a rare bird, or the platypus.

How do we take a step back, remove the publicity that surrounds any such discovery, and simply appreciate the wonder that an individual can present to us?  At what point do we put the ‘genius’ label on anyone?