“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination not both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”
– Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
We can spend this time talking about what Mozart meant on an emotional level, but I’m going to get a little scientific with you. After doing some research, I have found that scientists are making incredible discoveries about a type of material in the brain called myelin. Neurologists are discovering that the amount of myelin in our brains is in direct correlation with our talent and greatness or lack thereof. The good news is that you can “grow” myelin.
This means that the more you practice, the more myelin you will create. In his great book titled The Talent Code, New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle mentions how we say that practice makes perfect. Turns out that practice makes myelin, and myelin makes perfect. Those who have larger amounts of myelin in the brain are the ones who have spent years and thousands of hours practicing effectively. (More on effective practice later.)
Naturally, the question “What about the geniuses?” looms over our heads. Surely, there are people simply born for greatness or perhaps with a blessed supply of myelin straight from the womb, no? Coyle goes on to explain that geniuses begin building myelin at an earlier age through their obsession with endless practice. In other words, geniuses are not innately born with the talent itself, but they are born with the innate obsession to fervently practice what they love. They are still few and far between, but interestingly enough, they aren’t born with a completely different framework. Let this encourage us! I know we’re not all trying to become geniuses, but I know many of you are trying to become good, and some are even aiming to be great.
So what does Mozart and his magnificent quote have to do with all of this? Well, Coyle clarifies the importance of passion and perseverance for the task at hand, in our case, piano playing. Love is the fuel of our desire to be great. Love is the fuel to get your butt on that piano bench. Repeatedly. If you really LOVE playing the piano, that passion will guide you to practice continually which would eventually lead to more myelin production, and over time, mastery of the instrument. And you can start today. Knowing it is a formula rather than the roll of a die in the gene pool should inspire you!
To put in layman’s terms, if you truly love it, you’ll get good. Don’t set a limit for yourself. Practice, and let the myelin multiply. Take Mozart’s golden words and let love guide you towards practice today and onward, till you create your own version of “genius.”
So how much do you love piano? How good do you want to get? More importantly, what’s getting in the way of your practice today?