Unconscious IncompetenceIf you wade through all the primitive "pseudo-psychedelic" pop-ups on this page, you can read all of Maslow's Religion, Values, and Peak Experiences on line. Or you can just look at the Wikipedia summary. Perhaps what we are doing when we practice has something to do with trying to replicate the idea of a peak experience for ourselves (once we are able to get close to unconscious competence), and perhaps when we are performing our goal is to share that peak experience with others. Perhaps when we are writing music, our goal is to write stuff down that makes it possible for people to have and share peak experiences.
The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.
Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.
The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.
The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become "second nature" and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Maslow's World and How it Applies to Music
Would you believe that I just recently encountered the work of Abraham Maslow? As musicians we apply his "Four Stages of Competence" in everything we do. I know that I go through the path from conscious incompetence to unconscious competence with every piece I write, and if I'm lucky I make it from conscious incompetence to conscious competence with almost every piece I learn. If I'm lucky I make it all the way to unconscious competence. Sometimes I find myself going through the cycle many times with the same piece, if the piece is strong enough to take it. With a lot of music, like solo Bach, going through the cycle again and again is actually part of the fun.