Childhood Now, Audition Later

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Dear Greg,
My daughter is 9 years old and has been playing since she was 5. Her current teacher is a young woman who is a graduate of Juiliard. My daughter practises 3 hours a day, 7 days a week and loves her music. Her current pieces are Mozart Sonata K333 1st Mvt, Bach Sinfonia #13 and Rachmaninoff OP 32 Prelude No. 5. She is home schooled which gives her the freedom to work on her music. When she was 7 she was the youngest winner of The Bradshaw and Buono Piano Competition in New York We flew from California and she and some other young students played at Weil Recital Hall in Cargnegie Hall. She is very confident on stage at such a young age. It took her many months to bring the Mozart Sonata up to a level that her teacher would let her play it in a piano festival performance. Her teacher is quite strict about finger numbers etc. The Bach Sinfonia was easier becuase she had played many Bach pieces before it. I hope that someday she may make it to a music school like Juiliard if that is what she wants. I have researched the undergraduate audition requirements for the school. Is it too early to begin thinking about the pieces that she must be able to play for the audition and ask her teacher to lead her in that direction? I know that it takes alot of time before a student is ready to play a substantial composition by Chopin, Schuman, Brahms, Liszt ,etc as Juiliard might require. A concerned parent,
 - William

Dear William,

I have rarely been as confident when answering a question on my website as I am answering yours.

Yes, it is too early to begin thinking about your daughter's Juilliard audition repertoire. She is nine years old! Good grief, I didn't even start playing the piano until I was eight! My parents wanted nothing more than for their three sons to be "well-rounded," happy children, and I believe it made all the difference. I certainly wouldn't be the pianist I am today without having spent all that time outside building tree forts, participating in the science clubs, or visiting the public library on a weekly basis.

I know plenty of nine-year-olds who are instructed to spend four hours a day practicing, but I think it is unnecessary. There are so many child prodigies out there, and although several hours of daily practice may give the child early fame and a host of compliments, it will do very little to provide any sort of career later on. Besides, I've seen one too many child prodigies turn into unhealthy adults to ever recommend such a life upon anyone.

Invest in her childhood now, and you'll have plenty of time to worry about her Juilliard audition later.

- Greg