Stop worrying -- there are 5 year olds out there who are better than you ever will be at playing whatever instrument! Take a step back, relax, and just enjoy the music.
The renowned Hungarian composer was already able to play 40 different pieces on the piano by age 4. His debut at age 11 was highly successful and included his own compositions. Bartok would later found the study of ethnomusicology.
2. Cary Czerny
Czerny at age 10 impressed Beethoven with his skill at the piano so much that master composer agreed to accept the boy as his pupil. Later becoming Beethoven’s personal assistant, Czerny would debut a number of his teacher’s works, including the first Piano Concerto, in C major. Czerny himself wrote over a thousand compositions during his lifetime.
3. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Probably one of the most famous child prodigies in history, Mozart was playing the piano and violin as well as composing by age 5. Despite his untimely death, he composed over 600 pieces, including many works regarded as masterpieces in a variety of forms – operas, symphonies, choral works, chamber pieces, and solo works.
4. Yo-Yo Ma
Like Mozart, Yo-Yo Ma was already a proficient musician by age 5. The cellist performed for John F. Kennedy at age 7, and today he is recognized worldwide as a great virtuoso.
5. Glenn Gould
Gould’s parents recognized their child’s talent very early on – he had developed perfect pitch and was able to read music before he could read words. Initially taught by his mother, he began attending The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto at age 10. Gould is regarded as among the greatest performers of Bach’s music.
6. Franz Liszt
Liszt’s name is closely associated with virtuosity for a reason: he is regarded almost universally as among the most brilliant and technically gifted pianists in history. He started learning at age 7 and composing by 8. He was the only child composer featured in an anthology commissioned by the great publisher and composer Anton Diabelli. A great teacher in his time, Liszt’s legacy remains alive and well in the playing of a large number of contemporary pianists.
7. Sergei Prokofiev
The Russian pianist Prokofiev had completed first work for piano at age 5 and his first opera by 9. Also a gifted chess player, he was several years younger than his peers at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, where he annoyed everyone by keeping track of the errors his fellow students made.
8. Clara Rockmore
At age 5, the virtuoso violinist and theremin player Clara Rockmore was the youngest student ever to be admitted to the Imperial Conservatory of Saint Petersburg. Though illness precluded her from continuing a career as a violinist, she took on the extremely challenging, fully-electronic instrument known as the theremin, which is performed without being touched. She was the first to develop a technique and fingering system for the instrument, and is regarded as its greatest player.
9. and 10. Teresa and Maria Milanollo
At ages 11 and 6, the young sisters toured Europe from 1838 to 1848, taking the continent by storm. Both virtuoso violinists, Teresa and Maria performed a number of critically acclaimed concerts, impressing the great composers and performers of the day. The tour concluded with the untimely death of Maria, but Teresa would continue a successful career as a soloist.