Mistakes are the Guideposts to Success

K's 50th Birthday Photo

It all begins with embracing your mistakes.
Let’s face it, sooner or later, each of us makes mistakes. We make them in life, in work and in performing!

I was reading an article earlier today in which the author stated, “the fear of failure is directly proportional to the level of talent”, in her students.  I found this very interesting and after thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized that I agree.

Over the years, it’s been my most talented students who have spent the most time second guessing themselves. They consistently stop in the middle of a singing/playing/dancing/giving a talk because they know they’re not doing it right.

This has it’s pluses and minuses.  The plus is awareness. A mistake can’t be fixed if it’s unknown to the performer.

This goes for everything in life whether you’re working on singing, dancing, driving a car or mastering your golf swing. If you have no idea that you’re doing something wrong; you can’t fix it!

Yes, awareness is a definite plus!

The minus is that you risk building faulty muscle memory and a lack of mental connectivity. In fancy tech talk, we call this, “reinforcing an incorrect neuro-muscular pattern”. Tah-dah! Didn’t know I could be so techie, did ya?

You see, muscle memory is what carries a performer when we’re tired, stressed out, distracted, or a case of nerves kicks in. It’s what we train for.

Singing isn’t just pretty sound. It’s a carefully channeled use of the human body to perform a task that is not only physically demanding but mentally challenging as well. I speak in relation to music performance but, as I said earlier, it applies to other areas of life too. So, if you’re having trouble with your golf swing, raise your awareness of body mechanics and swing through.

Stilted practice results in decreased brain-body connection.

The body can’t link muscle memory through disjointed musical phrases. More importantly, the brain can’t connect the two.

This happened to me when I went for my first college audition. I had prepared a song by Purcell. I had some difficulty with it. There was one spot in the middle that got me every time! I wasn’t able to correct the issue by audition time, so I went ahead with what I had prepared, praying I’d make it through, and guess what, I did! I sang that really difficult part perfectly! Then totally blanked out on the next entrance! Why? Because my stilted practice had stopped my BRAIN from making the connection between those two sections of the song!

A vital part of acquiring any new physical skill is self-monitoring.

Ask yourself these questions when practicing:

Why is it wrong?
What did it feel like?
What does “right” feel like?
What am I doing?
How can I change this?

Pay attention to your breathing, your body alignment, your facial expressions, how do they change when it feels “right”? Then work on recreating those feelings and ask yourself, “How can I make this better?”

Become an active partner with your teacher or coach!

Singing for fun is OK. But, if you’re taking lessons, and want to be a performer, singing for technical and artistic improvement is your goal!

Change your attitude toward your mistakes. Re-frame your thoughts!

“Mistakes are the guideposts to success!” Let this be your mantra!

Recognize your current limitations and push back!

In singing, as in life… change your mind, embrace your mistakes, it will change your performance and can change your life.

Until Next Time…

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Biz Alchemy Kathleen Gubitosi

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