There is a mythic aura about a child who instinctively knows how to play the piano and compose (Block vii).

A common misunderstanding about prodigies is the idea that they are just young people with superior memories. Their memory may be the most evident gift, because it is the most visible. How can anyone observe the reasoning, insight and abstract thinking of a one or two year old mind? Amy Beach, according to her mother Clara, could hum 40 songs by the age of one. Clara kept a partial list of Amy's "favorite songs." When Amy hummed a tune, it was always in the same key that she had originally heard it, for she also had what is called "perfect pitch." At amateur concerts of women, a trend of the day, Amy was known for humming the key that the women musicians would use to tune their instruments. What else was going on in Amy’s prodigious mind? We will never know, for although her mother allowed Amy to sing her little songs for friends and family, Clara did not press her daughter further, or give her the opportunity to do more with music until much later.

Amy was a handful for her mother and grandmother, wanting to listen to them sing all day, showing fits of anger when they sang something she did not wish to hear. What if they had recognized the true breadth of her gift as a prodigy and supplied her with instruments, allowed her to play the piano? Might her belligerence have given way to dogged study, practice and accomplishment? By the age of four, prodigy Mozart had composed a symphony. Amy at four was still waiting to be allowed her first piano lesson.