Knowledge versus Experience

March 08, 2011

Knowledge is knowing how to do a thing, experience is actually having done it. At sixteen months my knowledge and understanding of violincello exceeds my experience considerably. My intellectual grasp of the instrument is better than my physical skill set.

I demonstrated this last evening by replaying all the pieces from Suzuki books 1 and 2. At the end of my lesson yesterday my teacher played some short excerpts from the Boccherini concerto he'll be performing this coming Sunday evening. So that I could follow along in the music he opened his binder on the music stand I had been using. When he was finished I gathered up my things and left for home, not realizing that my copy of Suzuki book 3, and my Lee Etudes book were hidden behind his binder. Whoops.

So instead of working on etudes or the Webster Scherzo, I went back to book one, piece one and played them all again. Most were relatively easy to play. There are several that I still have memorized (and still occasionally play) that were interesting to play with the music open. The way I think of them in my head is not by "seeing" the music; seeing the music was actually distracting for the memorized pieces.

There are a few that I can't really play any more. I would need to spend a few minutes sorting them out again. And in the case of a couple, perhaps more than a few minutes. I have the knowledge of those pieces and I can play them, but I don't have enough experience to play them cold, after weeks or months of not having played them. My experience is a like a pot of boiling water, as long as I keep applying heat, it'll stay boiling, but as soon as it's off the heat, it'll stop.

Even with the few pieces I stumbled upon it was a good practice session. To be able to play so many pieces, one right after the other, was good for my self esteem.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.