What does it take to become a child prodigy?

I have two favorite living child prodigies: one from the United States (age 13) and one from Norway (age 11).

Grace VanderWaal won America’s Got Talent in 2016, at age 12. She competed by singing her own songs that she wrote (the first video). She then signed a contract with Columbia Records and put out her first short album (with 5 songs) that reached #9 in the United States. She went on to win awards from the Teen Choice Awards and Disney.

Angelina Jordan won Norway’s Got Talent when she was age 8, singing classic jazz. At age ten in 2016, she recorded “I Put a Spell on You.”  If you enjoy that performance, there’s more. You will discover Angelina performs barefoot. Her first album is scheduled for release this year.

Grace VanderWaal and Angelina Jordan are both child prodigies. Scientific American explains what it takes to be a child prodigy.

“Recent research indicates that basic cognitive abilities known to be influenced by genetic factors also play a role in prodigious achievement. In the most extensive study of prodigies to date, the psychologist Joanne Ruthsatz and her colleagues administered a standardized test of intelligence to 18 prodigies—five in art, eight in music, and five in math. There was a wide range of IQs in the sample, from 100—the average for the general population—to 147—well above the usual cutoff for “intellectually gifted.” However, with an average score of 140 (above the 99th percentile), nearly all of the prodigies did extraordinarily well on the tests of working memory. …

“With an average score of 148, the music prodigies in the Ruthsatz study were especially high in working memory (the average for the math prodigies was 135 and for art prodigies was 132). In fact, all eight of the music prodigies were at or above the 99th percentile, and four were at or above the 99.9th percentile. The odds of eight randomly selected people scoring this high on a test are essentially zero. …

Prodigies also exhibit an unusual commitment to their domain … “Often one cannot tear these children away from activities in their area of giftedness, whether they involve an instrument, a computer, a sketch pad, or a math book. These children have a powerful interest in the domain in which they have high ability, and they can focus so intently on work in this domain that they lose sense of the outside world.”

What happens to child prodigies when they grow up?

To discover how far Grace VanderWaal has gone since winning America’s Got Talent at age 12, in 2016, to the first weekend in October 2017 at the Austin City Limits Music Festival as she starts her first national concert tour at age 13, watch the next video.

It’s wild! Her fans love her songs and they love who she is at this age. We all change as we age and mature. I hope Grace gets only better as a person, and that she never forgets who she was when she started out.

UPDATE

Since I’m a writer and a published author, I wanted to add the names of a few child prodigies in that field, but to be clear, I was never a child prodigy.

  • Flavia Bujor wrote her first book when she was 12 and published it with Harper Collins when she was 14.
  • Nancy Yi Fan started writing her first novel when she was 7. She completed that novel when she was 11. Harper Collins published that book in 2007, and it became a New York Times bestseller.
  • Jake Marcionette wrote his first book when he was 12, and that book also became a New York Times bestseller.
  • Alec Greven was nine when he wrote: “How To Talk to Girls”.  His book made the New York Times bestseller list for a book he says he wrote in a week.
  • Dorothy Straight is on record as being the youngest published author ever. At the age of four, when many children can’t read let alone write, she wrote a story for her grandmother. Her parents took a shine to it and sent it to Pantheon Books, who published it in 1964 when Straight was 6.
  • TopTenz

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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This is an Invitation to attend my favorite YouTube Concert

I am a Grace VanderWaal fan, and I have been attending a lot of her concerts sitting in front of my desktop with a stereo headset on. She was 12 when she won America’s Got Talent (AGT) in 2016. She’s now 13 and has a mini album out with her first-five original songs on it. After winning AGT, she was signed by Columbia records and her first mini album was “Perfectly Imperfect” and reached #9 on the national charts in the United States and #11 in Canada.  She also won the Radio Disney Music Award for Best New Artist and is pending for the Teen Choice Awards. She was nominated for Best Female Artist on the Acoustic Music Awards but didn’t win that one.

This YouTube concert starts with the first four songs Grace wrote and performed while competing on AGT. I don’t watch TV, so I never saw the original performances. I learned about Grace by accident a few weeks ago and have only watched her on YouTube.


28.17 minutes

The next video is her performance on stage in front of a huge audience. She sings her first original song, I Don’t Know My Name, and a new one called Moonlight.


8:46 minutes

Next, watch her first professional video where she sings her 5th original song, Moonlight.


about 3 minutes

Last, listen to her first album on VEVO’s You Tube channel


16:48 minutes

And if you want to use Google to find the original lyrics, they are available online. Once you read the lyrics of the songs Grace wrote when she was still 12 years old, I think it makes Grace’s YouTube concert experience even better. A friend of mine says Grace must have an old soul to have written those songs.

I have discovered that watching Grace perform and sing her own original songs is therapy for me.  She helps drive back the darkness being spread by #FakePresident Donald Trump and his extreme alt-right cabinet of professional haters. J. K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, says Trump is worse than Voldemort.

UPDATE August 18, 2017


Grace returns to perform on America’s Got Talent almost one year after she won AGT in 2016. She is a superstar now, and this performance proves it.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.