If you aren’t making mistakes you probably aren’t doing anything at all. Nobody’s perfect, and a perfect performance or rehearsal so rarely, if ever, occurs that it’s not even something I wish to discuss. However, mistakes do love to rear their heads, so they can’t be ignored. In fact, I’d even like to go so far as to suggest that mistakes are your friends! Why, you ask? Because they have so much to offer! Here are just a few of those things:
- Mistakes are a great teacher. They teach you where you need improvement. Certainly perfection doesn’t offer that! I once had a teacher who suggested that if someone were to observe your practice, they should come away believing you weren’t very good at all. Her theory being that you should spend the majority of time rehearsing the things that you couldn’t do well, and any outside observer wouldn’t find that appealing. An interesting theory.
- Mistakes are essential to performance. This is because you need to practice making mistakes! That doesn’t mean you need to incorporate mistakes into your performance, but when they do occur, allow them in the gestalt of your practice and give them a peaceful existence. Learn to carry on and make peace in your performance with your mistakes. Believe that mistakes are not your enemies. You will make mistakes in public performances, on stage, in the audition room, etc. If you become comfortable with that fact, you will learn to incorporate them into an excellent performance, and that is, in the end, all that matters.
- Mistakes can function as portals of creativity. Sometimes when you make a mistake, you may find that it offers another direction that you hadn’t considered before, one that you might even consider better than the direction you were taking initially. Surprise! Some great inventions in our world were born of “mistakes,” why not new creative avenues?
- Mistakes are indicators If you are making mistakes as you practice that usually means you are pushing yourself to the next level, bravo! Keep pushing! Make BIG mistakes! Go for it!
If you are a performer who dreads making mistakes give yourself permission to stop. It can be paralyzing. Learn to make friends with your mistakes today. Go ahead and give them a big bear hug. Carry on with those mistakes and embrace what they have to offer!
What is your advice on handling mistakes? Leave a comment below!
(Special thanks to Dr. Bruce LeBaron for his inspiration for this post!)