Dealing With Mistakes
So, How Do You Handle Making Mistakes?
When you practice piano, what is your instant reaction to making what are often referred to as “mistakes?” Do you cringe? Do you put yourself down? Do your facial and neck muscles become tight? Do mistakes make you want to throw in the towel?
If you have ever reacted to mistakes in a negative fashion while practicing piano, mark this day on your calendar as a turnaround day for you, because I don’t ever want you to do it again!
What we really need to do is define what a mistake is. So how do you personally define the word? This is important, so please give it some thought. Here’s how I define a mistake:
mis-take: a key that opens new doors to understanding and creativity
Now, with that as my viewpoint of what a mistake (or “error”) is, how do you think I react whenever I make one of them on the piano? How about this for an instant reaction… “Wow, how great! Another possibility!” or “Now, here’ s an opportunity to improve my technique (or reading, etc.)!”
It might not surprise you, if you read into this a little further, that I welcome mistakes while I play – I really do! As a matter of fact, I’m grateful for them!
Throughout all my years of coaching people on piano – all ages and levels – it has never ceased to amaze me of a basic contradiction that exists in the minds of most people. It goes something like this:
1) I want to learn piano (or any aspect of it)
2) I don’t want to be faced with the mistakes that go along with the process of learning
Think about that for a moment or two. It may seem a little ridiculous as you read that, but it is true a good portion of the time. When I study the reactions of people as they “hit that wrong note,” their actions confirm this mind set.
Consider this: getting upset at a mistake you make is like getting angry at a good friend who tells you something you need to hear.
“Your best teacher is your last mistake.
– Ralph Nader
Author Scott Adams put it this way (I love this, because it’s so very true): “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
Mistakes are something to be thankful for. They are our necessary friends. They are the first and foremost assets that we have in our favor when it comes to learning. They breed insight and creativity.
Please read that again. Adopt that mindset and just have fun observing the progress that is ahead of you. You’ll be improving by leaps and bounds every second you practice piano. Why? Because you can do no wrong!
Now, go have some fun at those keys and mistake your way to greatness!