Wednesday, 5 November 2014


Are mistakes a good thing? My general understanding, or perhaps belief, is that mistakes are opportunities to learn. Mistakes stop our heads from becoming unpleasantly large. They make us human. They help us to improve. So, why do humans go to such great efforts to hide them?

When learning, musicians are taught to play through the mistakes. The audience is unlikely to tell that we made a mistake at all if we keep smiling, and keep going. In my last performance, I got very lost. I knew what the chord was, but I couldn't remember the melody that was to be played over it. I played the chord anyway, kept my head down, and carried on. As far as I am aware, my mistake was successfully disguised.

Image sourced from here.

Whenever I practice, I like to stop and indulge my mistakes. I like to take the time to correct them. My guitar teacher massively resents me for this, and quite literally screams when I stop mid-piece. 

My school music teacher also likes to carry on despite mistakes. Very often, the whole orchestra can be completely silent, just watching as she continues to conduct and waits for someone, anyone, to find their place and re-join the music.

My question, is why? Why do we creep around mistakes, rejecting their presence? We're told never to make the same mistake twice: mistakes are chances to fix things. 

Image sourced from here.

I'm not afraid of getting things wrong: wrongdoings are a frequent occurrence in my life. But even I am terrified of the mistakes I make when people are looking. When I perform, I want to play perfectly because my months of preparation are judged by that one occasion.

Perhaps we're not so much scared of mistakes, as much as happy to just accept them without entertaining them. They exist, and we all make them, but we don't need to torment ourselves with them. 

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