To become an exceptional adult musician almost certainly requires an early start because of the time requirement, particularly for physically demanding instruments such as the piano and violin. Starting young can also set in motion a number of motivational conditions that lead to outstanding achievement.
Take the case of Johnny, who is studying grade-five violin at age nine, when most children at this level are several years older. Due to his age, Johnny will receive more praise, encouragement, and recognition than the others. People will think it is remarkable that he already is playing at the level of older children, even though it is not all that remarkable because it can be explained logically. Johnny has practised about the same number of hours as the older children who are playing at grade-five level but, because of his age, people will tell him he is a special boy and lucky to have this wonderful gift. Having started young has provided Johnny with an opportunity to accumulate more hours of practice and therefore make more progress. This will result in his receiving more attention from adults, which will fuel his desire for attention and praise. Johnny loves playing the violin and in time might develop his own intrinsic motivation. At this stage of his development, however, the recognition, attention, and feeling of specialness provide powerful motivation for him to practise.