You know but you don’t

This is for people who take lessons, practice regularly and might have experience the phenomenon.

You go to your lesson and get a new assignment. You’re ecstatic. The teacher was great, the lesson was fun, and the material was a head scratcher but not impossible. You’re off to practice.

Now you’re 2 days away from your lesson and you’ve been tackling the assignment. You are at the point where you know it… but you don’t.

What does that mean? It means that if you try the exercise and you’re cold, you have no idea what you’re doing, it sounds like you’re discovering it, hesitating and making mistakes, stopping and starting over. But if you play it a few times, your sense of command grow so much, you think it’s easy. You’re at the weird point where you know it, but you don’t. If you’re an experienced player, you don’t panic because you’ve been through this on a weekly, maybe even on a daily basis. Your approach is: keep practicing, you’ll get it. This is hard to do because while you’re understanding more and more what you’re supposed to do, you can’t shake the nagging feeling that you can’t perform it in front of an audience (Always the objective).

Question: What to do?

Answer: keep practicing. Repeat and repeat the exercise. Have the goal of doing it 5 times or 10 times or 15 times per practice session. Remember, you’re trying to have it mastered so that you can play it in front of your teacher. Eventually, I can assure you, you’ll get it. If you have a good teacher (I know an excellent one) she/he’ll be able to tell how long you were working on the exercise even if your delivery in front of her/him disappoint you. There is a level of familiarity, of comfort that cannot be faked.

I go through this every day. Sometimes I think I should just give it up, leave music to young and gifted. Fortunately, that thought doesn’t last long: music is too much fun. So, I’ll keep going, thank you very much.