Day 39, Mistakes

Practice: 3 and some change? :(, Rehearsal: 0, Lessons listened to: 1, Music listened to: lots.  I didn’t set my day up in advanced, so I didn’t meet my goal.  Buh.  I think part of me was just kind of tired and wanted to take it easier, but is one more hour really asking all that much?  Going to try to do better with my wide-open days, next time I have one.

I thought earlier in the day that I’d be focusing mostly on voicings today because it’s been something I’ve talked about with a couple teachers.  There’s basically two schools: Yes your voicing ought to change (ever so slightly) depending on the partial you’re playing in, and No, you do not change your voicing at all.  I think there’s much to be said for both.  Either way I look at it, I think my default voicing needs to be much, much higher.  I’ve been playing with that and getting positive results.

A side-effect of having a better voicing for most everything I play is that suddenly little things I did as compensation for bad voicing are no longer necessary.  If I’m voiced more efficiently in the clarion register, suddenly I don’t need to bite as much any more.  And I was only biting because I wasn’t voicing correctly.  Biting was the next best thing.  This idea blew up into a big one.  You hear the phrase “what can we learn from our mistakes?” a lot, usually meaning “how do we prevent this from happening again?”  But the way I saw it today was “what was the purpose of the mistake?”  By mistake I mean bad habits.  No one picks bad habits because they’re deliberately trying to hold themselves back.  The bad habits serve a useful purpose.  They cover something up, or serve as a passable substitute for something else.  Another example I can think of in my playing was the relationship between air and fingers.  I see this in my students, too.  They will instinctively not play with good air because if they did it would reveal how sloppy their finger movement is!  Fix the air, hear that the fingers are sloppy, fix the fingers.  Improvement can have a domino effect, especially if you understand not only what the weakness is, but why.

This turned mistake-seeking into a game.  What bad habits do I have?  Why are they there?  What would be a better replacement?

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” – James Joyce



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