Competence brings a sense of accomplishment. For some people, it is confirmation of self-worth.
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Susan Harter, “The Perceived Competence Scale for Children,” Child Development, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Feb. 1982), pp. 87-97.
- V. Vedul-Kjelsǡs, H. Signundsson, A.K Stensdotter and M Haga, “The relationship between motor competence, physical fitness and self-perception in children,” Child Care Health Dev. 2011 Jun 27.
- Jennifer Crocker, Samuel R. Sommers and Riia K. Luhtanen, “Hopes Dashed and Dreams Fulfilled: Contingencies of Self-Worth and Graduate School Admissions,” Pers Soc Psychol Bull September 2002 vol. 28 no. 9 1275-1286.
- Marc Chagall, Self-Portrait with Seven Digits (1914)
- Marc Chagall, Self-Portrait with Easel (1913)
- Paul Gauguin, Self-Portrait with Mandolin (1889)
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Slambovian Circus of Dreams, “Look Ma, No Hands”
- Johann Sebastian Bach, Solo Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, bwv 1007: (6) Gigue
- Johann Sebastian Bach, Solo Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, bwv 1012: (2) Allemande, (5) Gavotte
Film and Stage
- Breaking Away, a film about succeeding against resistance
- The French Connection, about a highly effective New York City narcotics cop, Eddie Egan
- Bambi: alone in the woods, the child survives
- Kiki’s Delivery Service: a young girl has her powers restored but in a new way as she enters adulthood
- How to Train Your Dragon, a cartoon fable in which the young hero comes into himself
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, “Hammerklavier” (1818) (approx. 40-50 minutes): a gift of a grand piano inspired Beethoven to compose this sonata. “In its emotional range, its technical difficulty, its sheer length, it exceeded any predecessor.” Top recorded performances, with comments drawn from Jed Distler’s Gramophone Collection article in 2020, are by Schnabel in 1935 (ferocious, sometimes outruns his fingers), Kempff in 1936 (honest), Gulda in 1951 (brash) **, Solomon in 1952 (powerful and suave) **, Arrau in 1963 (deep, powerful, probing and finessed) ***, Pollini in 1977 (penetrating and firmly delineated), Annie Fischer in 1977-78 (unstudied flexibility), Brendel in 1983 (animated and flowing tempi), Uchida in 2007 (polyphonic acumen) **, Ugorskaja in 2012 (forceful accents, broad brushstrokes, marked dynamic contrasts), and Perahia in 2016 (unalloyed greatness).
Stéphane Grappelli was Django Reinhardt’s violinist, then had a long career on his own after the gypsy guitarist died. Grappelli played with a distinctive style, characterized by lilting swing rhythms and a carefree feel that belied the technical intricacies of his playing. His playing conveys a sense of consummate self-assurance, born of the confidence that comes from mastering a skill so fully that it seems he could do it in his sleep. Here are links to his “Young Django” album, a live performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 1984, another live in San Francisco, still another live in New Orleans in 1989, conversation and performance with guitarist Martin Taylor, a collection entitled “From Paris with Love”, and another collection of tracks from Paris.
Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell also captured the essence of self-assurance in his music, in a completely different way from Grappelli. His playing displays a relaxed self-assurance, in contrast to Grappelli’s more energetic riffs. Below are links to albums of his work:
- “O Universo Musical de Baden Powell”
- “Three Originals”
- “18 Successos”
- “Seresta Brasileira”
- “Nosso Baden”
- “Images on Guitar”
- “Poema on Guitar” (1968)
- “Canto on Guitar” (1971)
- “De Rio à Paris” (1994)
- “Le Monde Musical de Baden Powell”
- “Tristeza on Guitar”
- “Os Afro Sambas”
- “Rio das Valsas”
- “À Vontade”
- “Live at the Rio Jazz Club”
- “Au Vivo” with Filhos
- “The Guitar Artistry of Baden Powell”
- “Um Violão na Madrugada”
- Glière: Horn Concerto in B-flat Major, Op. 91 (1951)
- Fauré, 6 impromptus, Opp. 25, 31, 34, 86, 91, 102.
- Bach, C.P.E.: Cello Concerto in A Minor, Wq170
- Hasse: Cello Concerto in D Major (1725?)
- Hertel: Cello Concerto in A Major (1755): 1. Allegro ma non troppo; 2. Larghetto; 3. Allegro ma non troppo.
- Alkan, Concerto for Solo Piano in G-sharp minor, Op. 39
- Weinberg, Flute Concerto No. 1 with string orchestra, Op. 75 (1961); Flute Concerto No. 2 with orchestra, Op. 148 (1987): 1. Allegro; 2. Largo; 3. Allegretto
- Weckmann, organ works (performances by Rampe, Zerer, Zerer and Davidson)
- Julius Röntgen, Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 20
- James Dashow, Mnemonics (1981, rev. 1984) – mnemonics is the development of systems for improving memory.
- Ryan Cohan, “Another Look”: an exceptionally free-and-easy jazz set that does not compromise intricacy and technical detail.
- Ieva Jokubaviciute, “Northscapes”
- Marc Johnson, “Overpass”: an album of solo bass tracks
- Hwang Byungki, “The Best of Korean Gayegeum Music”: “The "gayageum" or "kayagum" is a traditional Korean zither-like string instrument, with 12 strings, although more recently variants have been constructed with 21 or other numbers of strings.” Byungki was a master.
Novels about having to do it yourself:
- Kevin Wilson, Now Is Not the Time to Panic: A Novel (Ecco, 2022): “Wilson adeptly evokes what it was like to be a creative kid in the 1990s, having to fend for inspiration (books, images, films, lyrics, zines) on your own, or through a sibling or a friend, and then follow the trail. He captures the nonlinear absorption of culture before listicles, when 'every single thing that you loved became a source of both intense obsession and possible shame.'”
Here is a list of books about children learning to fight their own battles.
Other children’s books and novels:
- Cynthia L. Copeland, Cub (a children’s book) (Algonquin Young Readers, 2020): “The work frees her. When she’s armed with a notebook and camera, the anxiety stomachaches go away and she is at ease, even bold.”
A chaplain in the army,
A chaplain in the prisons,
An exhorter in Spoon River,
Drunk with divinity, Spoon River
Yet bringing poor Eliza Johnson to shame,
And myself to scorn and wretchedness.
But why will you never see that love of women,
And even love of wine,
Are the stimulants by which the soul, hungering for divinity,
Reaches the ecstatic vision
And sees the celestial outposts?
Only after many trials for strength,
Only when all stimulants fail,
Does the aspiring soul
By its own sheer power
Find the divine
By resting upon itself.
[Edgar Lee Masters, “Ezra Bartlett”]