Classical violinist Kai Kight believes mastery comes down to two concepts: curiosity and intention. In Kai’s Finding Mastery conversation, he explained the ways in which he utilizes the two concepts.

To him, curiosity means being open minded with a particular purpose so you can increase the possibilities around you.

“You always think of the masterful person as the person that has an idea out of thin air, but actually it’s because they were curious about something and took an insight from a different place that they then involved in their work.”

This is something that has been extremely helpful for Kai as an artist. He’s a classical violinist, but he’s curious about other genres. He doesn’t just block them out.

“When you see someone play a piece of music that sounds beautiful, are you just sitting back and saying ‘wow that was great,’ or are you really curious to learn how they did that. Are you curious to uncover the process?”

This is applicable outside of music as well.

By being curious about things that are great in different areas, you expose yourself to new ways of pushing the boundaries of your own craft.

Kai also believes you should be curious in the unexpected. Curious in things that you can’t predict. Curious in things that just come out randomly.

“A lot of times we have plans and we reward ourselves on how well we stick to that plan and get it done. A lot of times there will be ideas that come out of the blue and taking the time to explore them a little bit deeper leads to mastery.”

Another perspective that’s been really helpful for Kai as an artist is intention.

Intention for him means, in anything you’re doing, you have to ask yourself, why?

For Kai, as a classical musician, he used to get caught up in the technique— hitting the right notes— and that’s how he would judge his performance.

The music didn’t sound great though. The audience wasn’t as connected to it. His intent was just to follow the rules and play it right.

He realized that the true intent, the true purpose of music, is to connect with people, so he changed his technique to put people first.

He started to hold a note a little longer that wasn’t written on the page.

“The audience doesn’t care if you hit all the right notes. They want to feel something.”

A big transformation for him was coming to that realization. The intent for him needed to be: make the audience feel something, not hit all the right notes.

For Kai, it all comes back to failure.

“It’s impossible to play every single right note. There are too many uncontrollable forces for that to happen. But it is possible to have that intent, that focus of saying something [to the audience]. For me it’s intent and controlling what you can control.”

Catch the full podcast here

Kai Kight has a diverse background that has been fueled by creating and making. He holds an engineering degree from Stanford University’s d. school where he was introduced to the innovative culture of silicon valley. Kai composes his own music using an innovative style on the violin which blends classical technique with rhythms and textures from popular genres such as hip hop and jazz.