Professor Gary McPherson has been working with 14-year-old pianist Tiffany Poon as he researches musical giftedness. Katherine Smith reports.
When pianist Tiffany Poon was very young, her father and a friend set about building a high fidelity sound system. Although neither was trained in western music, they were aware that recorded piano is the best test of sound reproduction quality, so CDs of works by Chopin and Beethoven were played.
Then, at two years of age, Tiffany was given a toy piano and to her parents’ surprise, began to play along. Between the ages of four and six she listened to piano CDs, and within a number of weeks had memorised and was able to play by ear complex works that would challenge more established musicians.
For Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Director and Centre for Mind, Music and Wellbeing researcher, Professor Gary McPherson, Tiffany’s story is a matter of fascination and an opportunity for him to further his research into the mechanisms of giftedness.