Stephen Hawkings Guitar Practice
-

Stephen Hawking on the Enemy of Knowledge

As humans, we’re always seeking status. And not only in the outward, obvious ways, but anywhere we can find it. We feel elevated in status when we’re the most __ (accomplished, victimized, attractive, zealous, whatever). And we feel especially smug and superior when we already know something.

The more we know about something, the more confident we feel. And confidence is wonderful. Dan Sullivan, a top business coach, believes that confidence is the number one skill we can develop. This is because with enough confidence, we can continue to learn and grow and take new risks.

But as valuable as confidence is, over-confidence is counter-productive. Over-confidence is when we put more faith in our abilities or knowledge than they merit. One term for this is “the illusion of explanatory depth”. And this is akin to what physicist Stephen Hawking refers to as “the illusion of knowledge”: believing we know more than we actually do.

When we already know everything, we close ourselves to new observations and understandings. We fail to look for new and novel situations. And we become blind to the myriad lessons and discoveries in front of us.

This is one reason young children can be such a gift – our status doesn’t feel threatened, so we can suspend what we know and see the world through their eyes. We can enjoy fresh wonder and amazement. We can notice new things about ourselves and our environment because we’re open and receptive.

As musicians, we strive to get “to the next level”. We want to go from beginner to intermediate, intermediate to advanced, and advanced to more advanced. And the further we go along this path, the more knowledge we gain.

This advancing knowledge can be like lactic acid in our muscles – it creates its own resistance and makes the work feel harder than it actually is. When we “shake it out” and start afresh, we get better results with less effort and struggle.

When we “pretend” we’re beginners, we may become aware of small details we would otherwise gloss over. We notice things we missed before. We drop our assumptions and expectations of time frames, difficulty levels, and the “right” solutions.

When we choose to be perpetual beginners, we release the need for status. (Though we may seek the more “productive” status as the most open-minded, creative, and humble!) We can experiment with new things without fear of failure. We can make silly choices and experiment with nonsensical solutions, without feeling silly or nonsensical. We can be child-like, without being childish.

And through all this experimentation and tinkering comes faster progress. We solve problems in new and novel ways, and we move from one level to the next with more speed and comfort.

When we train ourselves to notice and “red flag” over-confidence and the “been-there-done-that” attitude, we see more clearly and connect more dots. We can suspend our illusions of knowledge long enough to build multi-faceted, flexible skills and habits. And these lead to the results that would otherwise evade our grasp.


“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

Stephen Hawking


 



allen mathews classical guitar

About Allen Mathews

Allen Mathews learned guitar as an adult, and has been a full-time guitar teacher for almost two decades to students age 4 to 96.  He has taught classical guitar at Reed College and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has been a guest lecturer and clinician at schools and universities throughout the U.S.  Allen is often praised for his creative teaching abilities, and his dedication to helping adults learn classical guitar.  He has a popular Youtube Channel offering regular classical guitar tutorials, and has gained fans worldwide for his weekly emails and articles at ClassicalGuitarShed.com.


Hi Allen, I am a Dutch guy who plays classical guitar (solo and together with a flute player). Unfortunately I have been suffering from focal dystonia since begin 2016. Of course I tried physical therapy which didn't help… But I tried some of your [technique] lessons (I had teachers before but I was never taught your techniques) and to my big surprise the nasty feeling in the back of my right hand which pulls my index finger upward was gone! So now I practice your lessons. Anyway, I am very happy to have found you on the internet. Thanks very much!


-Arnoud Reinders

These warm-up and stretching exercises are helping me a lot! Because I’m a software developer I have to stay 8 hours typing on a computer keyboard, so I use my hands a lot during the day. At night, when I have some time to practice the guitar my hands and arms are usually in pain because they have been working a lot during the day, but I’ve found that doing the warm-up/stretching exercises in The Woodshed releases me from this pain and I’m then able to practice after doing them.  

You are building a very interesting and working guitar course, because for what I’ve seen so far it really works!


-Ulysses Alexandre Alves


Become a Member and Play More, Beautifully!


“The basics are the basics, and you can’t beat the basics.”
Charles Poliquin  

Join the program that takes you from the beginning fundamentals to advanced mastery, so you…

  • Move your hands safely and fluidly

  • Enjoy fulfilling practices and meaningful work

  • Play beautifully with expression and flow

Click the button to take a step towards an organized, effective guitar practice. >>>



Featured Courses

$39
jesu bach classical guitar

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach

One of the best loved of all classical pieces.

See more...

$39
read music guitar high positions notes

Play and Read Music in the Higher Positions

Learn to read music and identify notes on the entire neck.

See more...

$39
how to play segovia scales

Better Technique, with “Segovia’s Favorite Scales”

Detailed explorations of this popular technical tool.

See more...

« » page 1 / 2

See more…