Frazier Piano Studio

Quantity Leads to Quality

There is this story in the book Art & Fear by David Dayles.

[A] ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

— David Dayles from Art & Fear

I've seen this hold true from computer programming and learning music. The student who goes through the most music (easy or hard) will eventually beat out the one trick ponies.

Same with programming. The computer programmer who tinkers around with a lot of different programming languages and architectures gather the experience they need to be an excellent programmer.

To be an expert you need to solve lots of problems.

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