OWL Magazine Korea

“Capability matters more than mere knowledge.”

During the period when I took a break from school before entering the military at the age of 20 and worked part-time, there was a time when I saved up my earnings to enroll in a guitar academy. Although I had casually learned to play the guitar after high school graduation, I hadn’t learned systematically. Therefore, I wanted to utilize the uncertain time before military service to learn the guitar.

With a determined mind, I enrolled in the “Lee Dae-hee Guitar Classroom” located near the main gate of Kyungpook National University in Daegu and was able to learn the guitar in earnest.

“The guitar classroom operated by Lee Dae-hee, of the Daegu E-Day band.”

The director of the guitar academy was Lee Dae-hee, who was known for mastering various instruments, including blues guitar, and exuded an artist’s vibe with his tousled hair. Later, I discovered an article about him performing with a band called “E-Day.”

Since there was about three months left before I entered the military, the teacher said something like this to me: “It’s not realistic to achieve a significant improvement in skills due to the short time available. Instead, I will focus on teaching you how to practice, emphasizing what you can continue to do during and after military service.”

Thanks to this, I learned about chromatics and scales for the first time in my life and remember practicing until my fingers were calloused. Although I didn’t practice with songs in mind, I continued practicing chromatics and scales following the teacher’s guidance.

“Can you play the C scale?”

One day, the teacher asked me this question. Reflexively, I replied, “Yes, I can play the C scale.” Then the teacher said, “Then play it for me.” Although I had practiced, I couldn’t play the scale properly yet. Seeing this, the teacher said again,

“I didn’t ask if you knew it; I asked if you could do it. Knowing and being able to do are different.”

Although it was a brief statement, it gave me a lot of insight. It taught me that it’s not enough to just know something; I must be capable of doing it and demonstrate that capability. Often, we settle for knowing something and think that’s sufficient. However, in real life, that level of knowledge is usually inadequate.

It’s not enough to merely know; I must be able to do it naturally. This applies not only to playing musical instruments but also to sports, academics, and work. Even if I’ve studied English extensively and know it well, if I can’t use English in necessary situations, it’s meaningless. The same goes for academics; even if I know a lot, I won’t achieve good grades if I can’t demonstrate that knowledge during exams.

This principle applies to blogging as well. Many people know about blogging, but few actually operate a blog and consistently write posts. Simply knowing without action renders it meaningless.

“Lessons learned during university days.”

During my university days, there was an incident in a class. It was a midterm exam, and although the exam time was only an hour, there were three essay topics provided. I had to write answers that were sufficient for all three topics, not just one.

The passages were not difficult, so I didn’t struggle to write answers. However, I ran out of time trying to write down everything I knew. As a result, I couldn’t provide a complete answer for the third question due to lack of time.

Consequently, I didn’t receive a good grade on that exam because I couldn’t write down everything I knew. Ultimately, it was because I settled for merely knowing. Instead of settling for just knowing, I realized the importance of elevating my abilities to a level where I could demonstrate what I knew.

After this small experience, I concluded that it’s not enough to simply know something. Rather, it’s essential to fully understand it, digest it, and make it my own. It’s crucial to elevate my abilities to the point where I can demonstrate what I know. Perhaps the small enlightenment gained while learning the guitar at the age of 20 evolved into a revelation that could impact my entire life.