When we make a mistake in a performance, a memory slip or hand slip, we usually recover quickly and get back into the piece of music. That’s not the difficult part though.

The hard part is coping with that mistake in our head. A mistake can damage our head space and make us feel like we’re a fraud of a musician: “Why am I up here in the first place?” “I knew it, I wasn’t good enough anyway!” “Why can’t I get this right?”

These thoughts in turn affect our playing. As we lose confidence we make another mistake and further thoughts escalate to more problems. It’s a snowball effect.

While some cases are more extreme than others, this happens to everyone. What we have to ask ourselves is how to look at these snowballs. Do we get bummed at our mistakes or, like Benjamin Zander, say “How fascinating!” and take our mistakes as learning blocks to better things.

We can either be crushed by these snowballs or make snowmen out of them. The choice is yours.


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