I frequently get asked about the the work I do as a Suzuki violin teacher.  Upon hearing my occupation, one man said he was not musically inclined and neither were his children.

I explained that under the right circumstances and with the right teacher, any child can learn an instrument and even become advanced.  He ended the conversation by saying that he thinks some kids have musical talent and some kids don’t. Since he was not a musician, I wondered how he knew?

Mozart was perhaps music’s greatest prodigy ever. But was this because his genes were superior?  Or was it because his father was the greatest violinist of his day who insisted on educating his children from infancy?  Can you imagine the parade of musicians coming in and out of this household?  It would have been hard for Mozart not to be a great musician.  To be fair, Mozart adapted to this environment very quickly, but what if the boy were raised by a cook or a inn keeper?  Would he be one of the greatest composers?  Doubtful.

Please understand that no one is insisting that every parent be a Leopold Mozart. But a parent who claims that their child has no talent could be dooming the child to believe that they have no control over their life, that they are at the mercy of fate, and can only hope to be good at something and proud of it. Not all parents will get it, but you can.