Sometimes learning and performing music requires us to fall down a few times. We’re going to make mistakes and maybe even make a fool of ourselves.
Have you ever felt stupid not knowing an answer, playing something entirely wrong, or maybe reading the notes incorrectly without realizing it? It’s hard to enjoy practicing music when this happens isn’t it?
Why do I keep on making these mistakes? Well, guess what? I do this all the time and I make no apology for it.
Feeling stupid is not a lot of fun, but it’s absolutely essential if we want to get anywhere in our learning.
Be Willing to Be Stupid
It’s important for us to be willing to make mistakes and risk the emotional pain of doing so. When we do have these fumbles, it is a sign that we are pushing ourselves a little.
The way our brain grows and makes new connections is by stretching ourselves, falling down, and then stretching ourselves once again. This is normal for growth and sets us up for spectacular achievement.
Keep in mind that these mistakes are not really mistakes at all. They are guideposts for helping you learn how to get better.
When you think of it this way, it makes you want to practice music more doesn’t it?
You are Not a Failure
Failure is not the same as making a mistake. Failure is not even trying in the first place. As long as you keep stretching yourself to learn more, do more, and become more, you will never be a failure.
If that were the case, then hockey star Wayne Gretzky would be considered a failure. His teammates can testify to the fact that he has fallen down on the ice through solitary drills regularly.
It makes sense why this is happening. He was pushing himself out of his comfort zone just past the boundaries of the mediocre. Gretzky was determined to improve and embrace the possibilities no one else may have ever considered.
Start Making Some Productive Mistakes
Create some goals for yourself that forces you to move out of your area of security. Take a risk and start working on the edge of your ability.
Reach beyond what’s easy for you and try working in your sweet spot (the area that is not too easy, yet won’t send you over the top in difficulty).
How to Do This
Slow down what you are practicing to a snail’s pace. If people can recognize the song you are playing, then you are playing it too fast. If you can’t name a note instantly before moving on to the next note, then you are moving too quickly.
The point of playing things (or reading music) at a super-exaggerated slow rate is to catch as many mistakes as possible. Going too fast will not reveal the problems that need to be fixed.
Catching everything that might have gone undetected will create more high-quality stretches for you in the long run.
Once a week, make a decision that scares you a little bit and create a plan of action on how to tackle it.
Your goal will always be the same: to stretch yourself a little more and view mistakes as valuable tools for helping you navigate towards a better direction.