Inspiration and Perspiration

I’m reminded of inventor Thomas Edison’s words:

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.*

For some time, educators have discussed how students need to develop “grit,” that quality of tenacity, stick-to-it-tive-ness, and “perspiration.” VG.StarryNight The term has a particular edge to it that means to encourage students to work through difficulties–say, in following through with a big project, or puzzling out a complex math problem.

Grit is good.  But what about inspiration? I think there’s more to inspiration than one percent.

When you surround your family with music, art, books, travel, being outdoors, and opportunities to play, you help inspire children.  For example, if you watch and listen when children play dress up or Legos, you might hear bits of stories and experiences woven in to their play.  Those bits are inspiration that feed your child’s creative imagination.

Some children become so inspired to continue this kind of play that they stick to it until they feel finished.  That’s grit or perspiration.  And it always begins with inspiration.




Bartlett, J. (1968). Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. 14th Edition. Boston: Little, Brown.


Piano Month and Chopin: Developing the Mind

September is National Piano Month and taking lessons is a great opportunity to help your child to develop her mind—think problem solving, listening, analyzing, focus, grit. I studied the piano for years and tenacity was one of the biggest skills I learned.

The first months, even years, of learning the piano is fun. The pieces are easy to play and the practice demands are few.

Chopin as painted by his once-fiancé, Maria Wodzinska.
Chopin as painted by his once-fiancé, Maria Wodzinska.

However, once a student gets to the third through fifth years, the fun turns to work and discourages many students from continuing. A lot of children take piano lessons (did you?) but lose interest after they reach the intermediate level.

Help your child stick to it when the going gets tough. Listen to piano music together. Play the works of incomparable composer Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) to wash your home in piano music. Load the dishwasher as you listen to a Chopin piece, or sit with your eyes closed and relax.

You’ll then be ready to enjoy the International Chopin Piano Competition in October!