Sunday, November 26, 2006

Words and Music

My sister-in-law, Susan, is a musician and music teacher--flute and piano. She said something this weekend that gave me an insight about The Beginner's Mind, something I've discussed here recently.

Susan talked about how beginning musicians tend to play music very mechanically, playing each note separately, sometimes even with the slightest pause in between notes.

"One advantage to learning to play a string instrument is that students learn to look for the line of the music and to think about phrasing."

I have noticed that Robbie, who's learning to play trumpet, plays each note separately, as if there's a comma after each "word" of the musical "sentence"--unless he's playing a song he really knows. Then he'll play with phrasing, linking notes that go together, and it sounds more like a real song.

The same goes for when we learn forms in TKD. I've noticed that beginners do each movement separately, pausing after each movement, doing each with the same emphasis.

The weird thing is, I've been doing this, too! It's only recently that it's finally dawned on me that the forms are like little poems, with words and sentences. Some movements need to be emphasized--accented--and others should flow into the next movement more smoothly. There are places to move faster, places to go more slowly.

Ms. Pryor was helping me with this before one of the tournaments. I think I began to get it then, and watching others do forms at the tournament really made that light bulb go on over my head!

The funny thing is that it's merciful that beginners don't notice how mechanical their forms are. If you're a beginner and you were aware of everything that's wrong with your performance, you wouldn't be able to go on! Perfectionism would give you performance anxiety!

But as beginners, we have limited vision, limited abililty to critique ourselves. We think we're doing OK, so we keep up with it. We only notice the more sophisticated refinements as we become able to make them.

Robbie thinks he's a great trumpet player! And I'm glad--that keeps him doing it, and he'll improve as he learns to notice how to improve.


TKD Rocker said...

That's great that Robbie's learning how to play the trumpet! Trumpet is my instrument as well, and I can definitely remember putting a "comma" in between every note I played. I had never thought of it in terms of tkd, though. It certainly is interesting to make those connections!

Miss Chris said...

That's so true about stringed instruments. I've played the violin since I was 10!

Anonymous said...

Four stages:
ignorant incompetence
aware incompetence
ignorant competence
get promoted