Every four years, the Cliburn Piano Competition is held in Fort Worth, TX, where I live. It’s been described by The Boston Globe as a cross between the Miss America Pageant, the Olympic games, the Academy awards, and the Pulitzer prize. It attracts the best pianists ages 18-30 from around the world. This year, 290 people applied and 146 were selected for screening auditions in London, Hannover, Budapest, Moscow, Seoul, New York, and Fort Worth. The jurists chose 30 for the competition. It began May 25th and concludes on June 10th when three awards are presented.

With friends, I enjoyed one of the preliminary concerts last Saturday. We heard three of the competitors each play a 45-minute concert. They were stunning. I marveled at their ability to memorize such complex music. They played beautifully. My friends and I struggled to find adequate adjectives to express our opinions. (For someone who is word smart, this is frustrating.)

The top 20 were selected to play another 45-minute concert, including two of those we heard. The top 12 were chosen from this group last night, again including the two men we heard. They’ll play a 60-minute solo recital and a concerto with our symphony Thursday through the 5th. From this group, six competitors will be chosen to play a piano quintet and a concerto from June 7-10th. On the last night, the three winners will be announced. Their prize packages are impressive!

If you and/or your children play or just enjoy talent, you can watch live and on-demand here. The finals will be broadcast in theaters around the country.

Is there more to this post than just a commercial for a fabulous opportunity to enjoy classical piano music? Yes.

These music-smart pianists are still learning. They’re still being trained. They all have teachers and 24 of the 30 are working on undergraduate or graduate degrees. Most practice many hours each day. It’s humbling.

Let’s share this reality with our children. Excellence is birthed in talent. Passion is developed in the heart and mind with character.

If athletes make better examples for your kids, use them. The best athletes and sports teams practice. They warm up. They spend time in the gym.

At the same time Fort Worth hosted the beginning of the Van Cliburn, we hosted the Dean & DeLuca Invitational at the Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth’s annual PGA Tour stop. These body-smart golfers – the best in the world – have coaches and play many practice rounds of golf for every competitive 18 holes.

Sharing role models with children is wise. For logic-smart kids, we can use scientists who spent years developing their work. Word-smart kids may be shocked to discover how many rejection letters their favorite authors received. The possibilities are endless, both when thinking about who to use and the benefits of doing so.

Remind children that excellence is earned. Passion is developed. Skill grows. This summer, if they say they want to get good at something or you know they do, sit down and talk about what they think it will take. Then watch some amazing piano performances or a sporting event together. Read some biographies or autobiographies about people who are positively affecting the world. Talk about the elements observed and what your children need.

Excellence is birthed in talent. Passion is developed in the heart and mind with character. Which part or parts of these statements do you want to talk with your children about? Plan to do that soon.