“You will make mistakes; play them loudly so everyone can hear them.”
It was the second thing my old horn teacher told me that I still remember. I started to say the second thing that he taught me, but I don’t remember ever following this directive. There was no way I was doing that. No way.
Think about it.
In the midst of a group of accomplished musicians sits an introverted young horn player. He is not even supposed to be there; he just took advantage of his talented young wife’s membership in the group. He is terrified of playing even a single wrong note that anyone would take notice of.
What Mr. M knows though, is that if he can hear the wrong notes, the poor intonation, the badly placed rhythms which his students play, he can make corrections before they have time to become habits. And, if he can catch such aberrations during rehearsals, he won’t have to worry about them showing up in the performances.
I wasn’t cooperative.
I always played especially difficult passages softly, not because the music called for it, not even because the passages sounded better that way, but because if no one could hear me play, no one would be able to hear and draw attention to my mistakes.
Nothing was more important to me than avoiding negative attention. I hated to admit that I wasn’t perfect; didn’t want anyone to think less of me because of my lack of expertise. I especially could not tolerate the prospect of having my faults pointed out in public. Mr. M had to constantly ask me to play louder, so my part could be heard.
That’s just what I didn’t want to happen. Ah, but there’s the rub. The only reason to play a musical instrument is to be heard.
If the mistakes can’t be heard, the right notes won’t be either.
It’s obvious by now that I’m not going to confine myself to the realm of music, isn’t it? The parallel to all of life is striking.
I have long ago decided that the whole of our existence takes place in this huge rehearsal hall we call life. The Conductor has placed us together to live, hopefully in harmony, with the other musicians around us.
I think I am finally coming to grips with the reason for my fear of making mistakes. I was raised in an environment where people who had been caught in error were punished, possibly even made an example of. When missteps were discovered, the folks in authority seemed more inclined to use that discovery to warn others than to try to instruct and correct the one who made the mistake.
As a consequence, folks hid their shortcomings, reluctant to live openly in front of the very people who should have been able to help them.
Hmmm. Rereading the paragraph above, I realize that I’ve made an error. I wrote that in the past tense, which would lead one to believe that it isn’t happening today. I wish that were true. It is not. Ridicule and persecution follow the discovery of weakness still today. It always has and always will.
So, we hide our shortcomings. We are reluctant to live open lives. We live quietly, hoping to escape the scrutiny of a world that loves to point out our missteps and private sins.
I wonder what would happen if we all followed Mr. M’s advice instead. How about if we live life out loud–every bit of it? What if we dare to make our mistakes in the light of day, in front of witnesses?
I said before that I think this world is a great big rehearsal hall where we are learning how to live life.
Perhaps it is time for us to learn how to do life right, to make the mistakes where they can be heard and take our correction.
We might even get better at it.
Will someone point a finger at us in hopes of making us look small? Yes. Small people do that–point out mistakes in hopes that their own won’t be discovered. It doesn’t matter.
I’m looking forward to the day when I step out onto that stage in the real concert hall. The Conductor will raise His hands to lead the combined chorus and instruments, and…
I’ve got more rehearsing to do before that.
You’ll hear it.
Mistakes and all.
“One who makes no mistakes makes nothing.”
(Giacomo Casanova ~ Italian adventurer/author ~ 1725-1798)
“So admit to one another that you have sinned. Pray for one another so that you might be healed.”
(James 5:16a ~ NIRV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.
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