Geniuses are made - not born

"There are no child prodigies, only wonderful children who have practiced a lot," said star pianist Prof. Jura Margulis, who is the third generation to head the International Piano Academy in Freiburg and gives masterclasses worldwide. And he wanted to set the record straight: "Practice makes perfect" is only half the truth, "The master practices" is the real truth.

We met in Freiburg for a conversation on the occasion of my visit to Rex Lewis-Clark, who was invited by Prof. Jura Margulis to spend a few weeks in Freiburg taking piano master classes.

I saw Rex for the first time when he performed in Jokohama at the age of 9. He touched me so much that he became one of the Winspiration Day winners. Rex was also the first to shout out: "Happy Winspiration Day!".
His performance in Baden-Baden in 2006 for Winspiration Day

has moved many people. And now, five years later, the boy has become a young man who is maturing into a special pianist, according to German television:


Rex's mother Cahtleen has written a book about Rex, which is only called Rex in English, but is entitled "Mein Wunderkind" in German(

The in-depth conversation with Prof. Jura Margulis about this word wunderkind then took place at
In his opinion, Rex is not a child prodigy. Even if we are touched by the fact that a blind autistic boy only has to hear a complicated piece of music once to play it, this is not a miracle, but merely the result of practice. And it's true, Rex has been practicing since he was 2 years old. So is it a miracle that 14 years later he can listen to music and simply play it back? Prof. Margulis says that he knows several 16-year-old children who can play along in the same way, simply by practicing. What particularly convinced him that it is not talent but training that leads to mastery is not so much the study on the 10,000 hours of practice that the Berlin University of the Arts did, but rather the story of the Polgár sisters(

The Hungarian educator Làszló Polgár believed
that geniuses are made, not born.
He wanted to prove it. He looked for a woman (he is even said to have advertised for one) who agreed with his idea. She bore him three daughters. He trained the girls in chess from an early age. And the result? Susan became world champion and her two younger sisters, Grandmaster Judit and International Master Sofia, also reached the highest ranks.

So, if we now have proof that practice makes perfect,
that talent does not play the decisive role.
What does this mean for each and every one of us?

We only need to decide in which area we want to be ahead.
What do we want to invest the 10,000 hours in?
What do we want to achieve mastery in?
Do we have something that is worth bringing to excellence?

Here once again Prof. Jura Margulis:

"Mastery is the pursuit of excellence in self-forgetfulness."


Wolfgang Sonnenburg

winning for life


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