Competition

Research found that people shown silent videos of piano competitions could pick out the winners more often than those who could also hear the music. The actual competition winners were only correctly identified by those who were randomly assigned the silent videos. When the volunteers viewed video with sound, the accuracy dropped back to chance levels that were also found listening to sound alone. The findings were quite surprising, especially because both trained musicians and those without training had stated that sound was most important for their evaluation. The study concludes that the best predictor of a winner’s musical performance was the visible passion they displayed, followed closely by their uniqueness and creativity.

Everything is mimicking competitive sports it seems: politics, performances, artistic expression, even sharing moments of happiness in our lives with an online group of friends. When I pick a movie at the local video library, there are usually two, often more, Hollywood films with the exact same theme and even the same plot. At work, we jealously guard our ideas for the next season until the day of the press release. Artists, writers, composers, we are all guilty of trying to “get there first”. Our motivation becomes murky and our priorities become skewed, to say the least. What we sacrifice, if not originality, is openness, kindness, generosity and humility; too high a price to pay.

My teacher, an accomplished musician and an original and independent artist, recently rewrote a whole movement from his most recent piece, prompted by a casual conversation we had. He did this without losing his integrity, his authority, or the respect and admiration I have for him. Quite the opposite, in fact.

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