How To Be Really Sure That You Really “Know” Something.

How Well Do You Really Know The Things You Think You Know?

This happens very frequently in my job as a guitar teacher, that a student who feels strongly that he knows something, blanks out on me when I ask him to explain it to me.

It was Einstein who supposedly said: “If you can’t explain something so a 6-year old understand what you are talking about… then you don’t really understand it yourself yet”.

So, the best way to evaluate how well you master something, is by trying to teach it to someone.
If it so happens that you blank out somewhere in your explanation or get stuck: that means that you didn’t know something as well as you thought you did.
You’re back to the drawing board in that case.

How important is it to “really” know something?

Well while there are many different answers to that question, the way I like to think of this is: “How free do you really want to be in your musicianship”.
Not everybody finds it important to be able to explain the workings behind something someone is doing.

Is it important to know and understand how your wristwatch works in order to be able to appreciate it?
No… but it would be if you were the wrist watch maker. Wouldn’t it? 🙂

So, it’s not as much a matter of “importance” as it is a matter of: “How free, how expressive, how versatile, how self-confident, etc do you want to be?”
I have found that usually, the guitar players who understand a certain concept the best, are also going to be the ones who use that concept the most expressively and freely.

Know your stuff… but know for sure that you know your stuff.


The message of this blog is: “Question Everything!!!”
Question how well you really know something.

The only way to have certainty that you master something completely, is by explaining it or trying to teach it to someone.
If you can explain it without blanking out or without getting lost in your explanation: then you truly master that topic.

But… that is actually not even the final level.
True mastery of a given topic: is when you can explain it from many different angles.
This is especially necessary for guitar teachers, who need to be able to do this when a student doesn’t totally get it the first time.

Keep me informed on your progress. You can hit me up in the comments section below.
If you like this blog: give it a rating and feel free to also give me any feedback.
I believe everything can always be improved. I’d gladly implement your suggestions and ideas in this blog or the next.

Be on the look out for more blogs about everything guitar, music, songwriting and music education.

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