Dee's Blog
Tue 08/05/2008
Seeing our Failures as Gifts
Topic: music

Sometimes I have piano students who are really uptight about their errors.  I can be that way, when the errors are just noise--the errors that turn the word "piano" into "pain-o!" as I want to reach for my ears.

Yet a lot of errors I see as beautiful and try to monopolize on them.  When I make an error in public, I've become very skilled at turning many of them into gifts that enhance the music.  Right on the spot!  So I end up fooling my audience if I'm needing to impress more than to just clown around.  Even in clowning around, the errors can be fun.

The trick is to smooth over the errors so we turn them into blessings, even if they aren't what we intended to do.  Or maybe not the ideal way of making music.

Students who "beat themselves up" in the middle of playing a piece have to learn that a lot of errors aren't really errors at all--just variations from the way the writer intended for the piece to be played.  Theoretically, they are errors.  Musically, they may fit right into the chord or make a slightly different rhythm that doesn't effect the pleasant sound of the piece. 

When a student makes an error like that, I often point out the problem in retrospect.  I call it an error that can be turned into a beautiful mistake.  Much like a cook varies a recipe, by accident, and improves on it.  Or finds ways to learn from it. 

Sometimes the student discovers an even better way of playing the piece.  Or at least one that is more preferred to that student's ear than the way the writer wrote the piece to be played! 

That's when they are truly making music, not just playing it.

Same goes for life.  We have fun figuring out new ways of seeing things that may be unique, even as they change the music of our lives and smooth out the rough places.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT

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