The third stage of development is not easily defined. The second draws the distinction from the mere capacity to perform at some level, into the capacity to perform with at least passing skill and competence. The fourth stage represents a level of excellence attained by only a few, which we might call being exceptional or transcendent. The middle ground between the second and fourth stages could be called proficiency or excellence. By standard normative definitions, this group represents the top five percent in level of attainment, whereas the second level represents the ninety percent above the bottom and below the top five percent.
This may be an acceptable definition for skills in relation to the material world, such as the ability to solve mathematical problems. However, that is not quite what this model is about. The values in the respective domains at this level of development are involvement, scientific method and initiative. Those are qualities of personal attainment, not qualities of technical skill. I am reluctant to employ standard normative analysis to a model for personal development and spirituality, which are not competitive endeavors. We do not know what might be possible in a society in which children were routinely trained in a model based on universal worth and dignity, and the social norms supported the verbal lessons. Theoretically, and for all we know, nearly everyone may be capable of becoming a spiritual master. The best definition I can give of the distinction represented by this level is that the individual has attained a high level of accomplishment but not the level of transcendence that is attained by only a few. Perhaps you readers can help me refine this definition.
Technical and Analytical Readings
- K. Anders Ericsson, Neil Charness, Paul J. Feltovich and Robert R. Hoffman, eds., The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
- Kiese Laymon, Heavy: An American Memoir (Scribner, 2018): “When Excellence Is a Survival Strategy”
- Maria Konnikova, The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win (Penguin Press, 2020: “How a Writer With a Ph.D in Psychology Became a Poker Champ”
Film and Stage
- Tampopo, about a young woman passionately committed to making the best noodles
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Nicolò Paganini was among the greatest violinists of any age. His six violin concerti demand a high level of technical proficiency, and also reflect excellence of musical composition.
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in D major, Op. 6
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2 in B minor, Op. 7, “La Campanella”
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 3 in E major, M.S. 50
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 4 in D minor, M.S. 60
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 5 in A minor, M.S. 78
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 6 in E minor, M.S. 75, Op. Posth.
- Hahn, Piano Concerto in E Major (1931): a showpiece for a highly skilled pianist.
- In his Piano Sonata No. 30 in A major, Op. 109 (1820), Beethoven employed all the genius and skills of his mature years to a composition dedicated to a musically gifted young girl.
- Beriot, 12 Scénes on Caprices pour le violin, Op. 109
- Grażyna Bacewicz, Ten Concert Etudes for piano (1956)
- Johan Paul von Westhoff was a violinist, and also a composer with a limited output. However, his six violin sonatas reveal exceptional talent and skill. Composed in 1694, they are called Sonates Pour Violon & Basse Continue.
- Carl Vine, Piano Sonata No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 3; Piano Sonata No. 4: Reviewing Xiaoya Liu’s recording of all four sonatas, Jed Distler writes: “It’s easy to hear why Vine’s music attracts young pianists. His keyboard-writing is virtuoso yet fits the fingers like a glove. His handling of tonality is sophisticated and inventive yet always accessible. He thrills and excites without becoming provocative or making listeners squirm.” [Gramophone magazine, August 22, p. 64.]
Most jazz artists of any notoriety are excellent musicians. Those in the second or third tier of skill can be listed under this category. They provide plenty of good everyday listening, like a good wine that is not quite a top French Bordeaux. They include trumpeter Howard McGhee and trumpeter Blue Mitchell.
- Anthony Braxton, “For Alto”
- James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor, “Live in Willisau”
- Calvin Keys, “Proceed with Caution”, marked a leap ahead for this soul-jazz guitarist.
- Jonas Kaufman, Liszt: “Freudvoll und leidvoll” – brilliant singing
- Phronesis, “Walking Dark” (2012): “The album sees all three players reaching further than ever before, creating music that by turns drives with urban energy and resonates with mountainous space and sheer delightful abstraction.”
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Steve Howe’s Remedy (2004), Part 16