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The Silly Little Mistakes

Something I talk about a lot with my students are the "silly little mistakes."  It's an interesting point that everyone reaches when learning a piece, no matter how complicated.  Lots of time will be spent learning the tricky sections.  Once the tricky sections feel smooth, more time will be spent figuring out the easier sections.  And then, finally, a piece must be played through from beginning to end.

And this is when the silly little mistakes arise.

It takes an enormous amount of concentration to play a piece through from beginning to end.  In the process of trying to do so errors will pop up.  Finger patterns that were fine during practice but, for whatever reason, become garbled and confused while playing the entire piece of music.  The worst part about this is that 95% of the other notes will sound fine!  95% success in anything else is a totally acceptable number.  Unfortunately in music, that last 5% is the difference between communicating fluently and sounding unsure of yourself.

It's actually a very humbling lesson.  Hours/days/weeks of work can be put into challenging section that pushes your abilities to the next level and the thing that takes down the whole piece are silly little "noob" mistakes.  It's difficult facing these sections because we go into denial.  We should know how to do those sections so no need to practice them, right?  The next  play through will be better.

Unfortunately, that can be the thread that unravels the whole blanket.

To really fix these sections we must first step back and look at the piece with fresh eyes.  The enemy being faced here is not the mistake but rather the assumption that it shouldn't be a mistake.  This means that until we accept the mistake and decide to make a change, the piece will never be 100%.

This is a pretty powerful life lesson if you think about it.

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