Bass players are a pretty good source for the deep intellectual and spiritual side of music as you'll know if you've ever read Victor Wooten's 'The Music Lesson'. This short post features an Anthony Wellington video from one of his workshops where he goes deep into the process of learning, and becoming a great musician--a level that few ever reach; he doesn’t overtly say it but this could also be titled: How Things Become Second Nature. He breaks down the learning process into four levels of awareness as follows:
Level 1: Unconscious Not Knowing
This is where you don’t even know what it is you don’t know; that kind of ignorance is bliss when you first pick up a guitar and have absolutely no idea of how much there is to learn—this is a happy state!
Level 2 – Conscious Not Knowing
The previous state of bliss is somewhat shattered because now you’ve become aware of what you don’t know. You know you need to practice and learn, and truth be told this is where most people who pick up an instrument stay—they don’t get past this point.
Level 3 – Conscious Knowing
This is when you become aware of what you know as far as modes, scales and theory are concerned, and you’re thinking about them while you’re playing. Most ‘good’ musicians will stay at this level their whole career. This is not a blissful state either because you’re always having to think about what you’re doing while you’re doing it.
Level 4 – Unconscious Knowing
This is when you know what you know so well that you don’t even have to think about it—things have become second nature, and this is a very blissful state as you’re free from the constraints of levels 1 and 2.
You can apply this system either to your playing as a whole or to whatever technique or theory you happen to be learning. It should also give you some insight as to how far you are along the road to guitar greatness. It sounds like a daunting task but break it down: if you only know the pentatonic scale, take it to the fourth level! If you only know the major scale, take that to the fourth level, and so on!
Check out the video below and let me know what you think in the comments.