Age: 17Bellevue, WA
Project Title: The Pursuit of Mastery
In her project “The Pursuit of Mastery,” Charlotte Marckx, a student of violin, develops a new mindset that centers around the idea of embracing the process of improvement as a part of a lifelong quest for perfection rather than fixating on specific external results. She believes that this mindset, which she calls the betterment mindset, can empower learners in all fields to challenge themselves and measure their own progress and successes by an internal ideal of mastery, leading to greater effectiveness and self satisfaction.
Charlotte Marckx is a 17-year-old violinist from Bellevue, Washington. She was born into a musical family and has been surrounded by string players since birth. She began her musical journey as a cellist--her older sister is a cellist and her mother is a cello teacher--but switched to the violin at age 5 and felt an immediate connection to the instrument. She feels overjoyed to have been selected as a Davidson Fellow and is humbled to be included in this remarkable group of thinkers and future leaders in their fields.
In music, specific goals are often used as motivation for practice and growth. Musical success is too often measured by opportunities and concrete achievements, rather than in personal development and satisfaction. Charlotte’s project The Pursuit of Mastery involves a conscious shift in mindset to what she calls the “betterment mindset” with the ultimate goal of intense self improvement. She set about learning repertoire for a year with the intent of achieving a level of proficiency and understanding of the pieces that was as close to her idea of perfect as was within her grasp. Rather than practicing and preparing in hopes of winning a specific competition, a goal often entirely out of a performer’s control, she was preparing to meet her own expectations. The process was liberating. The journey in music begins with a love of music. However, due to the countless disappointments that accompany the study of music at a high level, students can become jaded and lose sight of why they are pursuing music in the first place. Competition results can be flawed, and basing one’s self worth on them can be crippling. Charlotte's project suggests that shifting one's focus from short term, external goals toward long term, internal goals will lead to greater personal satisfaction and musical growth.
Charlotte did experience frustration along the way as her progress from day to day was not always evident. She had increased the intensity of her practice sessions, so the process required much more mental and physical energy. It took several months for her to finally begin to be satisfied by the results she was hearing. She received a tremendous amount of help from her musical teachers. Just prior to beginning the project, Charlotte began traveling to Los Angeles to work with the renowned violin pedagogue, Robert Lipsett. His support, knowledge, attention to detail and unapologetic use of the word “perfect” as a goal in her playing was revolutionary to her violin progress. She feels so fortunate to receive musical guidance and coaching from her pianists, Hiro David and Li-Tan Hsu, and she is forever grateful to her violin teachers and mentors Jan Coleman and Simon James. Charlotte is also very thankful to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and her advisor in the foundation, Patrick Wu. Patrick is a role model to Charlotte for how to spend your life encouraging others and making the most of your talents and passions.
Charlotte feels that the idea of viewing success internally and striving to reach one's own potential is relevant to any field of study. We often find ourselves in a position of measuring our successes against our peers, or through external validation. Ultimately, this can lead to frustration and negativity. Prestigious opportunities are rare, and the struggle to obtain them can pit peers against one another. If all students adopted the betterment mindset, evaluating themselves and striving for their own highest possible level of proficiency in whatever discipline they were pursuing, Charlotte feels that our society would be far more fulfilled. The process of bettering oneself for the sake of getting as close as you possibly can to mastery is thrilling and incredibly rewarding.
Charlotte attended the gifted PRISM program through the Bellevue Public School District. She was a part time student at Interlake High School, taking all her academic coursework at school and doing her electives at home and online so that she could have more time to devote to music. Charlotte graduated from Interlake one year early and will be a freshman at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles this fall. Charlotte was also extremely fortunate to be a part of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars program from eight grade until graduation. In the summers, Charlotte attends the Aspen Music Festival and School.
Charlotte hopes to become a violin soloist one day. She has received many honors in music including the Gold Medal and Bach Prize at the 2018 Stulberg International String Competition. She has soloed with several orchestras including the Seattle Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and has performed with the Seattle Chamber Music Society and the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival. She has been featured on NPR’s From the Top and Classical KING FM 98.1. In addition to classical violin, Charlotte loves to play multi-genre music. She performs eclectic arrangements with her cellist sister, Olivia, in their duo Sempre Sisters (www.sempresisters.com) and has collaborated with Time For Three, Pink Martini and Charles Yang. Charlotte feels fortunate to have the opportunity to use music as a way of giving back to the community. She grew up performing at retirement centers, and performing for special needs students at local elementary schools with her sister, and recently they had the opportunity to present a sold out benefit concert for the Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington Foundation. Charlotte is an avid fangirl, obsessed with all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, Doctor Who and more. She also loves to write. She completed her first novel this year about an ex-supervillain's attempt at a new life.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ideally, in 10 years, I would love to be a violin soloist. Of course, that career path is incredibly competitive. But if I was lucky enough to achieve that dream, it would be so amazing to be able to see the world and perform the great violin concertos with top orchestras!
If you could have dinner with the five most interesting people in the world, living or dead, who would they be?
If I could have dinner with 5 people, living or dead, I would probably choose Jascha Heifetz, Shakespeare, Dorothy Sayers, Joni Mitchell, and my great-grandfather Guy Stevens who I've heard so much about over the years that I feel like I know him!
If you could be on any TV show, which one would it be?I would love more than anything to be on Doctor Who. It has the zaniest, craziest energy of any show I've ever seen, and it holds a huge amount of nostalgia for me. Being in the TARDIS would be incredible. Meeting and working alongside the first female Doctor would be life-changing.
In the News
Charlotte Marckx to be Named a 2019 Davidson Fellow Scholarship Winner
Bellevue, Wash. – The Davidson Institute for Talent Development has announced the 2019 Davidson Fellows Scholarship winners. Among the honorees is 17-year-old Charlotte Marckx of Bellevue. Marckx won a $50,000 scholarship for her project, The Pursuit of Mastery. She is one of only 20 students across the country to be recognized as a scholarship winner.
“I am overjoyed to have been selected as a Davidson Fellow and am humbled to be included in this remarkable group of thinkers and future leaders in their fields,” said Marckx.
In her project “The Pursuit of Mastery,” Marckx, a student of violin, develops a new mindset that centers around the idea of embracing the process of improvement as a part of a lifelong quest for perfection rather than fixating on specific external results. She believes that this mindset, which she calls the betterment mindset, can empower learners in all fields to challenge themselves and measure their own progress and successes by an internal ideal of mastery, leading to greater effectiveness and self-satisfaction.
In addition to classical violin, Marckx loves to play multi-genre music, including eclectic arrangements with her cellist sister, Olivia, in their duo Sempre Sisters. She feels fortunate to have the opportunity to use music as a way of giving back to the community, by performing at retirement centers, for special needs students at local elementary schools, and recently presenting at a sold-out benefit concert for the Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington Foundation.
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Started in 1999, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development is a 501(c)3 private operating foundation. Our mission is to recognize, nurture and support profoundly intelligent young people ages 18 and under, and to provide opportunities for them to develop their talents to make a positive difference.
Profoundly gifted students are those who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ and achievement tests. Read more about this population in this article.