Recently, as I’ve moved beyond my student years, I’ve turned more of my attention toward decoding patterns of success in the working world. I’ve come to believe, for example, that “follow your passion” is bad advice if your goal is to end up loving what you do.
For example, in Flow is the Opiate of the Medicocre: Advice on Getting Better From an Accomplished Piano Player we find this list:
•Strategy #1: Avoid Flow. Do What Does Not Come Easy.I leave it as an exercise for you, Dear Reader, to relate this to chess improvement. I don't want to make it too easy, after all...
“The mistake most weak pianists make is playing, not practicing. If you walk into a music hall at a local university, you’ll hear people ‘playing’ by running through their pieces. This is a huge mistake. Strong pianists drill the most difficult parts of their music, rarely, if ever playing through their pieces in entirety.”
•Strategy #2: To Master a Skill, Master Something Harder.
“Strong pianists find clever ways to ‘complicate’ the difficult parts of their music. If we have problem playing something with clarity, we complicate by playing the passage with alternating accent patterns. If we have problems with speed, we confound the rhythms.”
•Strategy #3: Systematically Eliminate Weakness.
“Strong pianists know our weaknesses and use them to create strength. I have sharp ears, but I am not as in touch with the physical component of piano playing. So, I practice on a mute keyboard.”
•Strategy #4: Create Beauty, Don’t Avoid Ugliness.
“Weak pianists make music a reactive task, not a creative task. They start, and react to their performance, fixing problems as they go along. Strong pianists, on the other hand, have an image of what a perfect performance should be like that includes all of the relevant senses. Before we sit down, we know what the piece needs to feel, sound, and even look like in excruciating detail. In performance, weak pianists try to reactively move away from mistakes, while strong pianists move towards a perfect mental image.”