Child prodigies: Do they really make it in life?
Pratima Shantaveeresh We've read about gifted children in news and marveled at their talent. But how many child prodigies actually manage to carve...
We've read about gifted children in news and marveled at their talent. But how many child prodigies actually manage to carve out careers and stay grounded when they grow up? Those who lose their childhood trying to work on their gift from God succeed only if they manage to be a perennial learner without letting the success get their head
At the age of 16, when many teenagers are busy looking for good career options, admiring the latest gadgets and motorcycles and hitting on hot girls and guys, Sachin Tendulkar was already the youngest cricketer to join Indian cricket team and was busy hitting centuries.
Saina Nehwal who was inspired by Pullela Gopichand started playing badminton at the age of nine and won Bronze medal at the London Olympics 2012 at the age of 22. She beat champions who were much older to her. They are called child prodigies. They are born with the talent to excel in their field. Most of them are influenced by the family environment whereas few recognise their talent when they get inspired while watching others.
Besides Sachin and Saina, we see many others child prodigies in news and around us. People usually end up saying they are gifted by god or that they are born to bring revolution in that field. Everyone who is born with special talents is not as lucky as Sachin, Sania and Saina to manage to make full time career out of their talent. How many child prodigies manage to make a career out of their special talent? How many lose their childhood in the race to the top?
T Sreenidhi, a Hyderabad-based Carnatic singer's talent was recorded in "Guinness Book Of World Records" when she was a three year-old. She is the one among few who has managed to carve a fruitful career out of her talent. At a very young age, she possessed the rare knowledge which can only be attained after vigorous training of 10 years. Sreenidhi decided to take her talent further and explore singing while composing music, singing and spread her knowledge while training her students. So what encouraged her to learn more and keep growing in her field? She says "My parents were my best critics. They never allowed me to feel that the talent I possessed is extraordinary.
They always kept criticising me which made me learn more. Even now they make me feel there is room for development. Parents should not only encourage kids but also criticise them so that they don't get arrogant about their talent." Like Sreenidhi, Naga Lakshmi Bhagavatula, Associate Legal Counsel at Infosys at Infosys, Bangalore, is also a child prodigy who continued her talent in Kuchipudi dance even after she grew up. But along with Kuchipudi, she also chose to become a lawyer. Now she is a fulltime lawyer but performs at concerts occasionally. She says that she is a lawyer by profession and dancer by passion. Being a child prodigy, she says she got exposure to the wold of Kuchipudi much before others and has also helped her excel in the field.
Similarly, Kalyan Vasanth, a singer got inspired by the musical environment in family is a B High artist in All India Radio and also performed in Paadutha Teeyaga, a talent show in ETV at the age of 8. He says he is interested in becoming a music director, but is waiting for the right time. Till then he wants to continue singing at concerts. "Being a child prodigy does not help until and unless the person works hard to develop his talent." he added later.
Child prodigies are born with certain talent but they certainly need gurus who can give a better shape to their talent. But at the same time it is a challenge for them to handle these extraordinary kids and give them the correct training. Vanita Quraishy, who runs a music institute called Music Zone in Hyderabad, says "Child prodigies need different training.. Child prodigies are born with the knack to learn the talent well and much earlier than normal students. If a child has knowledge more than the stage he is learning in, we move them to next stage. They manage to learn techniques well in advance then the children of their age."
However, she warns that there is always the danger of child prodigies getting over-confident about their prowess. "At this stage, parents and gurus need to help them stay grounded. If not the child's talent gets wasted as they don't feel the need to learn more and end up learning less than the normal students."