History teems with stories of child prodigies, but the case of young Perth pianist Anwen Deng really does stand out. At age six she “has become the youngest person to be accepted into the prestigious Juilliard School in New York to study piano,” reports WAtoday. She was accepted following a February audition in the famous school’s pre-college division program, during which she played pieces by Bach and Mozart.
Deng, a Year 2 student at Perth’s All Saints’ College, presently has weekly lessons with Jana Kovar at the University of Western Australia’s School of Music. “I could immediately see this was a really special talented girl,” Kovar told The West Australian.
Clips on YouTube do bear out the exceptional talent of this little girl.
In its entry criteria, Juilliard places no restriction on minimum or maximum age. The school’s website says it accepts students “whose talent and commitment to excellence promise future achievement in their chosen areas of major study”.
Another child sensation in recent years was Adelaide-born violinist Sally Cooper, who at the age of 11 wowed audiences with a performance of the Bruch Violin Concerto with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. In 2011, Limelight magazine listed Cooper amongst its ‘The 10 most talented kids in classical music’ list. Cooper later went on to appear in X Factor, Australia’s Got Talent and Dancing With The Stars.
The other side of the coin is that children who are pushed too hard and too soon can burn out, and careful thought needs to be taken by parents and teachers in deciding what is appropriate. At Music Australia, we advise that a child needs to physically be able to manage an instrument before beginning lessons, and that group music activities might be most suitable for children under 4. Naturally, it is also important to be guided by the child’s own interest: “If a child is really passionate about an instrument, it is a good indication that they want to learn it.” See more on our Choosing an Instrument? webpage.