Developing Talented Eyes

I just finished reading a spell-binding book. It was first one in a stack of books I recently requested at my local public library. I have a habit of making such requests in bulk, and then realizing after I get the stack home that there’s no way I will ever read all of them before it’s time to return them. They either get renewed or quickly scanned as I move on to my next topic of interest.

My current passion is talent and genius. My original thought was that I should figure out what I’m missing as I teach my eyes how to work together properly. That usually means a lot of reading online and more books.

I’m not even sure where I came across the list, but I was so moved that I typed it on a sticky note on my computer and requested every book.

The list includes the following:

1. Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, by Geoff Colvin. Amazon link:


2. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle. Amazon link:

3. Outliers: The Story of Success,  by Malcolm Gladwell. Amazon link:

4. The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong, by David Shenk. Amazon link:

5. Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success, by Matthew Syed.

The first in my pile happened to be The Talent Code, which I found so mesmerizing that I finally took a few hours out and finished it. I have been applying the first fundamental all week in my vision therapy and as I have worked with my piano students. Coyle identifies three basic components that are necessary to unlock talent. They are: deep practice, ignition and master coaching.

Deep practice is not an unfamiliar concept, but it’s something I have tended to forget in the routine of doing vision therapy exercises as well as in teaching and learning other concepts. OF COURSE (visualize the head smack that accompanies this), deep practice is key to success. Why would anyone think otherwise? It’s just that it takes so much effort.

I was struck by the example given of a thirteen-year-old girl named Clarissa who demonstrated this principle in her clarinet practice. Coyle calls her the girl who did a month’s worth of practice in six minutes. I looked for the video on youtube and what came up was the trailer for the book. I didn’t find it on Coyle’s website either, even though someone had asked about it with no response.

Six minutes is a fairly random number, but I took it to heart. If a child can do it, so can I. So I concentrated on specific exercises for six minutes at a time and timed myself. I did it several times throughout the day. (This is instead of twenty minutes at one time–usually at the end of the day when I’m tired.) The next day I was dizzy. I don’t know if it was because of the concentrated practice or because I was dehydrated, but it felt like a shift anyway.

It’s a  shift I plan to continue to experience as I practice more deeply and apply principles of deep practice to my piano teaching and the quilting classes I’m taking. More on the other principles next time.

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