The Art of Doing

Kids’ Art of Doing: How Does a 12-Year-Old Prodigy Make Friends in College?

For our new section, Kids’ Art of Doing, New York University student, Carson Meyer, talked to 12-year-old prodigy Benjamin Krasner.

We’ve all seen them—the bite-sized violinist effortlessly playing Chopin or the 5-year-old with a fine art career—and wondered: What’s it really like to be a prodigy?

In a word, Benjamin Krasner overqualifies. At 5, he took up piano and immediately showed great promise. By 6, he was doing algebraic equations. At 10, began to study for his SAT’s and the next year, he was a finalist in Oprah Winfrey’s search for the “World’s Smartest Most Talented Kid.”

Now at 12, when most kids are in 7th grade, Benjamin is an accomplished pianist and gifted (though novice) composer, who performs around the world and also happens to be a freshman at Pierce College in L.A., where his favorite class is poli sci—discussing Plato, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Socrates and Karl Marx.

More words of wisdom from Benjamin:

What is the trickiest part about being the youngest student in class? The older students look at me funny. They point at me like, who is that kid? They say I make them feel very unaccomplished. So I try to be kind of social. You want to become friends with people or else you will just be doing schoolwork.

What advice would you give to a kid your age who wants to start college early? Enjoy all the free time you have. Party a lot and think of what you want to major in.

Benjamin Krasner Facts: Favorite Song: Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen). Favorite Note: E Flat “Minor is my favorite key.” Piano Practice Time: 4 hours daily. Study Time: Last year, 7th grade homework, 0 hours daily; this year, college homework, 3 to 4 hours daily.

For more on prodigies, exceptionalism and identity read Andrew Solomon’s new book, “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search from Identity.”