Let’s talk about motivation, especially as it pertains to music lessons. There are many reasons why a student may sometimes feel that he or she just doesn’t have what it takes to become proficient in playing an instrument. We have heard students say things like “I am not good enough” or “I keep making mistakes.” Making mistakes, as you know, is natural when you are learning a new skill and it is certainly not a good reason to get discouraged. In fact, we’ll let you in on a secret (well, it’s not exactly a secret, but a lot of people may not realize it): even the most famous musicians occasionally hit a wrong note. Why? It is certainly not because of lack of practice, but it could be due to nerves (yes, even the most experienced musicians sometimes suffer from stage fright), a wrong move of the fingers on the instrument, or a number of other factors. After all, even the most acclaimed virtuosos are only human!
Of course when experienced musicians are performing, an untrained ear of a spectator in the audience may not catch a wrong note. Do you think your ear is fine-tuned enough to hear it? Listen to these pieces and try to catch the slips. There is a very interesting compilation of the world’s most accomplished pianists hitting wrong notes. In the video, the great Arthur Rubinstein explains how, during a concert early in his career, he faked an entire Chopin etude and even deliberately played wrong notes— and still won rave reviews from the critics! (Obviously, we don’t recommend that you do the same thing – unless you have Rubinstein’s spectacular talent and can get away with it!) Then there is the Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang, who had a mishap in a section of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue.” Can you hear it? And while performing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” , the late German pianist Wilhelm Kempff slipped at 0:40, 1:25, 2:06, 2:38, 3:59, 5:08 to 5:11, and 6:42 minutes. As matter of fact, Beethoven was a challenge to another virtuoso pianist as well. Argentinian “Daniel Barenboim made a mistake at 2:41. You may be wondering whether geniuses like Mozart, Beethoven or Chopin ever make mistakes? We have no way to prove it, of course, but keep in mind that before they became skilled musicians, they had to master the craft from scratch. And we bet they hit plenty of wrong notes while they learned! Imagine how different the world would be if these composers had given up because of the mishaps.
If there’s a moral here it is that making errors is not a reason to give up – if anything, it’s a reason to try harder the next time. Our teachers understand that mistakes are a normal part of a learning process, and when they come for a lesson in your Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Riverdale home or office, they will patiently teach you the right technique. This means they will not only instruct you on how to read notation and play, but also on how to hold and handle your instrument, breathe correctly, feel confident and comfortable, and generally get the most out of your lesson. So make no mistake about it: keep playing!