Monday, July 27, 2015

Question Everything: Mistakes

No one wants to make a mistake, especially when performing.  But really, what *is* a mistake?

Say you're playing a song and everyone plays a pattern where the arms come straight up and then point to the audience.  You accidentally do point to the audience, then swing your arms up.  Totally obvious that it's not what the others are doing.  But what if you're in the center of the song, and the audience thinks you did it on purpose?  Sure, you and the group know it wasn't the right move, but if you ask the audience "did you see the mistake?" they might not know what you're talking about!

Now, say you have a set solo that you normally play in a given song.  Halfway through, you wind up playing something unintentional, improvising for a couple of bars, then coming back to your set solo.  Is that a mistake if it looked and sounded good?  Is it a mistake if only you knew you didn't play what you intended?

Let's make it more difficult.  What if you're playing a fast straight beat on shime as a ji and some of the time, your strikes are near the edge of the head, making different tones instead of the solid, sharp tone that you'd like to make.  Are those hits "mistakes"?

Is every mistake equally bad?  Is forgetting to kiai with everyone in a part of a song as bad as tripping and falling down?  Of course not.  So in your head, how do you rank what's acceptable and what's not?  Does it differ from what your group feels?

Some things are very obviously mistakes.  Dropping your bachi is a mistake, kicking the drum while spinning so that it moves three feet away from you is a mistake, hitting your finger and bleeding on the drum is a mistake!  For the less-than-huge things, however, sometimes it's up to you to define what is and what isn't a mistake.  Once you can quickly differentiate what's not a huge mistake, it's much easier to not let the smaller ones affect your performance - which helps you learn how to not let the bigger ones affect your performance!

No one wants to make mistakes, but a good goal is to eventually make mistakes that only you notice...

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