Let's Make Some Mistakes!

Our society stigmatizes mistakes. All the way through school and careers, kids are penalized for missing a question, forgetting something, misstepping, wrong answers, breaking rules, questioning the norm, and the list goes on. The next step is a retest, review, do over, redo, retake, etc etc.

Societal Programming

So when they first get into my St. Paul teaching studio and they make a mistake, like a human does, they stop. And start over. Every. Time.

In my room, this is a habit we have to unlearn. Think about if I let it continue: They would stop every time they made a mistake, just like they practiced, and their neurons and muscle memory would deem that the correct reaction every single time, including when they perform for people.

What Not to Practice

Guess what? You can't stop and start over when you're playing for people. Especially when you're playing with a band. The band isn't going to stop the music and wait for you to catch up, so that's an impractical method to practice. But so many (frustrated) people practice that way for the entirety of their musical experiences.

My approach to making mistakes is this: Make them and learn from them. Mistakes are going to happen, you're going to mess up, BUT practicing how to recover from mistakes is a far more practical approach than restarting so you can play it perfectly.

So practice recovery skills, not perfection.