Want to Be a Genius Like Mozart?

Twyla Tharp is one of America’s greatest choreographers and she has a ton of wisdom in her book The Creative Habit.

All of it very practical.
She is one creator that knows a bunch about Mozart.
Here is a long quote from her book.


“Nobody worked harder than Mozart. By the time he was twenty-eight years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose. That’s the missing element in the popular portrait of Mozart. Certainly, he had a gift that set him apart from others. He was the most complete musician imaginable, one who wrote for all instruments in all combinations, and no one has written greater music for the human voice. Still, few people, even those hugely gifted, are capable of the application and focus that Mozart displayed throughout his short life. As Mozart himself wrote to a friend, “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.” Mozart’s focus was fierce; it had to be for him to deliver the music he did in his relatively short life, under the conditions he endured, writing in coaches and delivering scores just before curtain went up, dealing with the distractions of raising a family and the constant need for money. Whatever scope and grandeur you attach to Mozart’s musical gift, his so-called genius, his discipline and work ethic were its equal.”

Mozart didn’t rely on talent to become the genius he was.
He had crazy discipline and work ethic.
Here’s more creators and researchers weighing in on the subject.
Carol Dweck a world renown researcher on motivation has this to say:

“Is it ability or mindset? Was it Mozart’s musical ability or the fact that he worked till his hands were deformed? Was it Darwin’s scientific ability or the fact that he collected specimens non-stop from early childhood?”

Michelangelo said:

“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”

He also had a crazy amount of discipline and worked his butt off his whole life.
The New Yorker’s music critic Alex Ross says:

Ambitious parents who are currently playing the ‘Baby Mozart’ video for their toddlers may be disappointed to learn that Mozart became Mozart by working furiously hard.””

Just listening to Mozart is not going make anyone Mozart.
Just looking at paintings is going to make you a great painter.
Just reading great books will not make you a great writer.
We got to do the work also.
Geoff Colvin in Talent is Overrated says:

“__Mozart’s first work regarded today as a masterpiece, with its status confirmed by the number of recordings available, is his Piano Concerto No. 9, composed when he was twenty-one. That’s certainly an early age, but we must remember that by then Wolfgang had been through eighteen years of extremely hard, expert training.” ~

Constantly learning and working.
Let’s go back to Twyla Tharp.

“Even Mozart, with all his innate gifts, his passion for music, and his father’s devoted tutelage, needed to get twenty-four youthful symphonies under his belt before he composed something enduring with number twenty-five. If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill is how you build that bridge.”

Okay, I hope that all that wisdom from other great creators has convinced you of the value of discipline and work ethic.
So the next time you see, listen or read any masterful creation remember that there is years of effort behind it.
All of this brings us back to you.
How is your discipline and work ethic today?

Chris Beaven

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