Nannrl Mozart, like her famous brother Wolfgang Amadeus, was a child prodigy. She performed with him as a child, and some believe she wrote a few of the early works attributed to her brother. But it was Wolgang whom their father decided to promote and mentor. We know the results: Wolfgang Mozart is the most famous child prodigy of all time and regarded as one of a handful of great musical masters; Nannrl is forgotten. No music with her name endures, no biography of her life exists - although a few have attempted to write novels about her, piecing together the few shreds of evidence of her life that remain.

The false notion that we always celebrate child prodigies is at first evidenced by the root of the word "prodigy." It derives from the Latin "prodigium," which meant omen, or monster. Prodigies - children who perform at adult levels in one or more endeavors - are, indeed, rare. How rare we don't know. What differentiates a prodigy from a genius, we are only beginning to think about. What is genius? Very few scientific studies have been conducted on prodigies or geniuses, and thus most of these children, like Nannrl Mozart, have been raised at the mercy of the myths, prejudices, personalities, support (or lack thereof) and value systems of their parents and the cultures into which they are born.

Amy Marcy Cheney (Beach) was no exception. At one she had memorized forty tunes; at two she harmonized alto parts with her mother's soprano singing. She had perfect pitch.