the first step
Updated: May 27, 2020
“Being bad at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” - Jake, Adventure Time
In this existence, it is necessary to accept imperfection as an inevitable aspect of gaining a new ability, even a critical aspect of progress, development, and maturity.
In this existence, it is necessary to accept imperfection as an inevitable aspect of performance, before you can defeat it.
At all levels, if one wishes to comfortably exercise their skill, they must become comfortable with imperfection. Not to accept a lower standard of accuracy, but rather, to remain resilient through the hiccups of being human and spar against imperfection with realistic expectations.
In learning: understanding is rarely instant and seamless for long. Practical ways to combat this: Ask your instructor all your questions, if you have doubts or confusion, you can even ask for clarification. Think about connections between concepts if possible – ideas within a field of study are rarely in their own bubbles: they are usually connected to something else, maybe something else you already know.
In performance, I’ll go backwards: musical performance is a unique art form that exists only through instances of time, and once it is conveyed, it only exists in recordings and memory. The aspect that usually causes anxiety is that it cannot be corrected after the instance it has been performed. It’s out there now. The good news: both recordings and memory are imperfect. They will never capture perfection, even if you attain it.
Therefore, to practice/prepare for performance: do your best. Put in all feasible time and effort to cross the threshold of quality that you can convey with the goal of consistency, and when performance comes - let it go. Fake it till you make it works for cooling nerves as well as setting any emotional state necessary - use your training but if something happens, truly, what does it matter if you conveyed the music well?
"Think of a time you were embarrassed, easy right? Now think of a time someone else was embarrassed. It's a lot harder to do isn't it?"