Do Not Touch the Instrument

In music, we describe a long line of virtuosos from the same family as talent passed down from generation to generation. It’s in their DNA. But even innate talent needs a little help. 

One family of world-class mandolin players has watched this kind of talent blossom over and over again. The patriarch of the family was recently asked about this unusual flourishing of musicianship. He explained the simple rule followed by each generation of the family: When any child in the family turns five years old, a mandolin is placed not far from their bed. The child is given clear instruction: DO NOT TOUCH THE INSTRUMENT. Of course, no five year old can resist breaking that rule! They are drawn like magnets into the family tradition.

Scholars call this “psychological reactance.” We have a driving need to do exactly what people tell us we cannot.