Making versus Repeating Mistakes

Health Promotion for Musicians
January 10, 2019

In the discovery phase of practice, all of us make errors as we try out interpretive and technical ideas. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong,” says creativity guru Ken Robinson, “you’ll never come up with anything original.” Nor are we likely to come up with anything very meaningful either. As we mine the layers of unfamiliar pieces, we experiment freely, hang on to the good stuff, and leave the detritus behind. Next, in the repetition phase of practice, we polish that good stuff until it gleams.  Although discovery can be messy at times – as we test one notion, discard it, and then explore another – it’s crucial that we don’t repeat errors much, or else we’d ingrain faulty habits. Hence, repetition during practice, while being creative and flexible, is also meticulously neat. And that neatness is essential to on-stage artistry because, to perform accurately and expressively in front of people, we need accurate and expressive habits of execution.