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The difference between Competence and Performance (Read 980 times)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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The difference between Competence and Performance
« on: May 28, 2016, 04:47:36 PM »
I don't expect many replies since this will probably go over most of your heads lol.

"Chomsky separates competence and performance; he describes 'competence' as an idealized capacity that is located as a psychological or mental property or function and 'performance' as the production of actual utterances. Linguistic competence is the system of linguistic knowledge possessed by native speakers of a language. It is distinguished from linguistic performance, which is the way a language system is used in communication.

Linguistic theory is concerned primarily with an ideal speaker-listener, in a completely homogeneous speech-community, who knows its (the speech community's) language perfectly and is unaffected by such grammatically irrelevant conditions as memory limitations, distractions, shifts of attention and interest, and errors (random or characteristic) in applying his knowledge of this language in actual performance. ~Chomsky,1965"

In regard to language of music I see parallels, notably how those who study piano for instance can have the acknowledgement of ideal competence and know what needs to be done to improve but their performance highlights their disconnection to their competence or certainly some kind of forgetfulness or unwillingness to follow what they know. You can know how to achieve a task but to actually go through and make it a reality is a different matter. Some may think they are competent with musical language and how it is trained but their performance is full of issues such as lack of practice, motivation, lack of goal setting, ignoring teachers advice, making poor fingering decisions, lack of expression etc and some perform happily at odds with their competence and are not affected by the difference. The trap is that many can mistake their competence for their performance without really considering it or being affected by the difference.

As music listeners who are fully competent as to what sounds good or not to our ears we can fully understand someone's musical language even see past their errors and inefficiencies just because a performance doesn't highlight an ideal competence their performance is still appreciated and understood. Some listeners performance of their listening competence however can produce bad results such as bias towards tempo or certain interpretations. As teachers we can even mistake a students competence as easily transferable to their performance. In lessons a student can know exactly what is taught but then go home and perform that poorly. Mostly the performance is affected by poor practice time management and discipline towards work. As musicians honing their craft we need to be wary that we are actively applying what we know and notice what we are failing to acheive and why. I notice a monkey on pretty much everyone's back, a psychological resistance to perform what they know effectively. It is what we all must work against and certainly separate our musical competence to our actual performance of that competence is important.
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