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The Profound Knowledge System and Music Learning(1999/02)

Dr. Deming is a music lover. He used different orchestra performance comparisons as one way of understanding the meaning of quality. He wrote songs and hymns. He told us what the chapters of a book are capable of turning out jointly is the sum of their independent efforts augmented by a strong positive interaction term. This is like any composition of music piece.

We can learn his system viewpoints from above-mentioned understanding of a great book or a great music First all, we need to understand the aim of the book or music, so that we can play with it with style or expression. We cannot play the music step by step or note by note only since the music is a system, and it is more than the sum of all the notes.

The students of music playing are likely to be too nervous of the accuracy of each note and the precision of the method, that is , they are too self- conscious of local optimizations. Even we follow all the rules and the ways of masters' playing, we still cannot appreciate the system of the work we are playing with.

Recently I read Never Too Late by John Holt. He quoted some words of Kanigel in the chapter of Playing and Learning as follows:

But crucial as technique is, and elusive as is its mastery, you don't get picked for the Chicago Symphony because you can hit the right notes. That is where interpretation, or "musicianship" comes in. How to taper a phrase or stress a note. How to convey the nuances of feeling no musical notations can fully represent. How to breathe life into a score written for another time and place. . .

The teachings of Dr. Deming can be of great help in our learning of every subject.. For example, you can think about applying the Profound Knowledge System to music learning and playing. We have mentioned about some system aspects of it. But it is quite easy to know the importance of understanding the variations, the learning (or knowing, including all the related tacit knowledge) and the psychology of learning and playing. As a matter of practice, we can learn a lot from the book like Never Too Late if we read it with viewpoint of Profound Knowledge System.

Three years ago, we I decided to re-learning the Deming Philosophy. Prof. David Kerridge reminded me the importance of learning with mentors In the era of internet, it is possible to take advantage of this new technology to learn from many masters of Deming Philosophy. So why not join our Deming User Group or global Deming Electronics Network (DEN) Discussion Group( you can reach it through the link of this website.) Let me re-quote some words of Kanigel:

Week by week, the comments, suggestions, and interpretations leave their marks. Week by week, as if by osmosis, the teacher's musical standards are instilled in his student.

John Holt is right that the learning and playing is your own expedition and you must remain in charge in your own journey of any learning exploration and adventure. I believe Deming Philosophy is a very good roadmap to help you get orientation and meaning of it.


For Deming's orchestra metaphor, please refer to his masterpiece, The New Economics or the books by M. Walton or M. Mann. For Deming's using book as a metaphor of system, please see his Foreword of From The Editor for W. A. Schewhart's Statistical Method From the Viewpoint of Quality Control.

John Holt (1978) Never Too Late. My copy is Addison and Wesley 1991 edition.

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