She’s not a Genius
My daughter, Charisa Dowe Rouse, The Violin Diva, is a gifted young lady. In fact, I have been blessed to have three gifted children but since Charisa is a performer, she has a very public gift. When Charisa was in elementary school, her artistic and intellectual giftedness was obvious in our church community. She was always into something. Sometimes people would see an 11-year-old toting around the 912-page historic tome Roots. People were amazed that such a young person could be the concert mistress in an orchestra that really played the William Tell Overture (the theme from the Lone Ranger). Others were amazed by her precociousness as she asked or really demanded that the pastor allow her to sing a solo to Jesus in front of the whole congregation. Generally, those accolades delighted this father’s heart but the buzz about why she was successful angered me.
You see, many people believed that Charisa was successful and talented because she had good genes. They believed that because her parents had a level of competence and achievement that she had just been blessed. On the other hand, their own children had normal genes. Their own children were not blessed with the intrinsic talents and abilities that my children were blessed with. They thought that Charisa was and is a genius. She is not. That’s right, Charisa Elizabeth Dowe Rouse is not a genius. She plays the violin at a very high level, she had a 3.7 GPA in her graduate work, she played and sung The National Anthem before the presidential debate in New York but she is not a genius.
Someone once said that inspiration is 99% perspiration. Charisa’s success is much more attributable to that maxim than an accident of having good genes. You see my wife, Iris, Charisa and I sweated profusely for many years for her to be a success. I was angered by the comments about her supposed good genes not because it spoke ill of what God has given my family but because it was bad theology. It suggested that God had just granted exceptional gifts to the Dowes while bypassing others. It ignored the fact that the Dowes sweated and prayed through many dangers toils and snares in order to cultivate the gifts that God has given us while most people are simply unwilling to work that hard or persevere that long to succeed.
Let me tell you the story of Charisa on the violin. When we lived in Landover, MD, the local school was terrible. Our son really wanted to leave Christian school and go to public school. We did not want him in a bad school so we stood in line to get into the lottery for places in excellent magnet schools. Since we were in the line already, we tried for an elementary magnet for Charisa as well as a high school magnet for Daryl. As it turned out she got in and he did not. Charisa was part of the inaugural kindergarten class at the Thomas Pullen Arts Magnet school.
At the first back-to-school night the school mentioned that they were going to offer violin instruction to any kindergartener who wanted it. I asked Charisa about it and she said that she wanted to try the violin. What a mistake that was. She just could not get it. She tried and tried but was unable to make anything resembling music come out of the violin. I am often said that nothing sounds quite as bad as a bad violin. Charisa was bad! One Thursday night I set down with my four-year-old daughter and told her that just because she couldn’t play the violin didn’t mean that she wasn’t a good person. I explained that not everyone was cut out to play the violin. Charisa was devastated. She cried and cried disappointed that was failing at playing the violin. Well, the rest is history. She focused and kept trying harder and harder to get it. Finally, on the next Monday, the light came on. She got it.
The summer after Charisa completed first grade she went to a one week camp for young violinists. There, this six-year-old was soundly out played for a three-year-old. However, the three-year-old had a mother who was a professional violinist. Charisa was embarrassed and motivated. That summer my daughter came home and started practicing 2 hours each day. It wasn’t long before her hard work began to pay off.
As Charisa continued to progress in the violin, my wife and I also paid a price. Every Saturday morning we transported her to the D.C. Youth Program’s orchestra rehearsal. For years we made the 35-minute commute to Washington and then hung around from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM when rehearsal was over. We also paid for and took her to weekly private lessons as well as supporting her activities at her arts school.
As parents, we are to train up their children according to the bent that God has placed in them. We were just trying to do what God called us to do when he gave us children. The result is from him. My daughter is extremely gifted. However, without the perspiration, we would not be listening to her inspirational melodies today.