Saturday, September 8, 2012

You don't have to know what you're doing to know what you're doing

I tried to learn sailing a few decades ago.  I didn't have a boat.  I tried to learn through a class and a book.  It seemed very hard to understand the angle of the wind and the angle of the sail.

I tried to learn music.  It seemed hard to judge the length of a note -- how do you know the half note you are playing is exactly twice as long as the quarter notes.  It seemed hard to know which beats to accent.

But then I just started playing songs on the ukulele, songs that I already knew how they sounded.  Then the length of the notes was instinctive.  I didn't have to think of which note was a quarter note and which wasn't. I just played the song the way it goes.

People speak their native languages with correct grammar, even if they can't tell you what a direct object is.  I find in music that I'm able to play songs without my brain fully knowing what I'm doing.  I think perhaps if I were sailing a boat and I could feel the pressure of wind on sail, I would know how to adjust the sail, even if I couldn't conceptualize the angles.

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