Music is a great teacher…or on not building failure snowballs

For previous blogjunes I’ve been one of those people who challenged themselves to post everyday for fear of failing. So, this year (when I definitely haven’t managed to post everyday) I was happy to read Kate’s post on what “failure” teaches us. Missing one day (or two or three) makes no difference. Success is in getting back up, dusting ourselves up and trying again.

This is something I try to instil in my music students (and myself as a musician). Performing (and dammit even practising) so often feels like a high-wire act. Will I nail that tricky technical passage I’ve been working on? Ever? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. There’s no such thing as a perfect performance. There will always be something that goes wrong, or doesn’t happen exactly as I’ve practised it. Students experience this all the time. “It was better at home” is a familiar refrain in the teaching room. It always is. There’s no pressure there. The trick is in learning how to deal with the mistakes. Dwell on them through the next three lines and the rest of the piece will fall apart as well. That one little failure or mistake snowballs (to borrow Kate’s term). Leave the mistake where it happened (in the past) and focus on what’s coming next with a positive mindset and you’re always in a better position to do well. The snowball doesn’t get a chance to build.

This is a wonderful philosophy for life, work, the universe and everything. Don’t build snowballs of failure out of tiny setbacks that in the long run would be meaningless. It’s something I try to work on every day. Living in the moment. Less catastrophising. Less worrying about the future. Music, like life, work, the universe and everything, is a great teacher. And, a great mind game.


2 Responses to “Music is a great teacher…or on not building failure snowballs”

  1. Kate says:

    Living in the moment… That is one thing I’m trying to work on too. I feel like I need to teach myself how to be present again.

  2. Wendy Davis says:

    It is a challenge…especially when a phd is so future-focused…you can do it!

Comments are closed.

Tags: , , ,