I love my daughters’ piano teacher. This is the same amazing woman who called my daughter after her public failure at Barnes and Noble to tell her that playing piano is not about performance. Right after that embarrassment, my oldest went on to perform in talent shows and play piano with absolute joy. The goal isn’t performance, and that’s made all the difference. In fact, music exploded in her life after that day; she’s incorporated singing, bongo drums, the flute, and she’s saving money for a piccolo and a guitar.
Now my youngest–who loves perfection and fears failure–began her lessons like her big sister. Today, she wants to play a duet for me with her teacher. She misses a note and freezes. The teacher quickly says, “If that happens, just pretend you meant to do it and keep going.”
So she does. With joy. With absolute joy.
The teacher’s method reminds me of Lewis Thomas’ essay, “The Wonderful Mistake,” in which he reconsiders the word failure. When a student fears failure, she freezes and creativity stops. When she sees failure as that beautiful journey towards progress–towards music making in the fullest sense of the phrase–she’ll move forward with absolute joy.
Pretend you meant it and just keep going.
I love hearing music in my home since I didn’t grow up taking music lessons. Did you grow up in a musical home?