Students are afraid of making mistakes. When I ask them to play a new piece, they would say, ” I am scared to play the wrong notes.” Even with the old pieces they have been working on for a while, they would still be worried about getting the wrong notes. Why just the notes? The rhythm is also very important too! And how about the tempo? It is not always better when you just play a piece as fast as possible! The tempo is determined by the relative style of the piece!
When I say to my students, don’t worry so much about the wrong notes or making mistakes, they are confused. Aren’t we supposed to be perfecting our playing? Yes, we are. But the problem is, if we are scared and constantly stop ourselves before we are about to take some risks and learn from our mistakes, we will never improve. We need to be courageous at our playing and practice. Try make some mistakes and learn from them. Of course you should know it when you are making a mistake, like a wrong note or a wrong rhythm. But try to look past it when you are going through it at your first read, or when you are play it through as a complete piece like a performance or an exam. Don’t worry so much about the mistakes during this kind of situation. Be aware of such mistakes and work on them during your practice. Go through the mistakes one by one. Think about why you make such mistakes. There is a reason to every mistake your make. Without this reasoning process your practice is meaningless. It is simply mindless and impractical hand movement. Only knowing what, why and how will lead you to a breakthrough in your playing the piece.
Remember, whenever you make a mistake, it is not you who is suffering; it is the music that suffers. If you really want to perfect the music, forget yourself. You don’t want to make mistakes because you feel when you play something wrong, you feel embarrassed and are being looked down by those who are listening to you. There is too much of a “you” in the music making. Focus on the music. The other things like following the teacher’s guidance and polishing your playing are done for the sake of music. You are not important here. In your music making, it is the music that means the most.
So, from now on, make some mistakes please! You would find you make less mistakes along the way.