You are very brave.

| May 8, 2011

When I was a kid in the first orchestra I ever played in my orchestra director shouted at the top of lungs to me in the back of the room. “Chris, I can’t HEARRRR YOUUUUUU!!!!! Look, if you’re going to make a mistake, make it LOUDDDD so that we can fix it and move on!”  At the time, I regarded her words with cautious optimism. At the same time that I didn’t want to make a mistake in front of the 60 other kids in the orchestra, I knew that she was also encouraging me to do so! On some level, she was inviting me to make a mistake in front of my peers so as to advance the ensemble.

While I have not yet had the pleasure to conduct my own full band or orchestra, my work as a private studio teacher has consistently reminded me of the fact that to be a musician, one must be very brave! As a elementary and middle school student just starting out, breaking out and playing in front of peers can be downright scary. My orchestra director in middle school handled us with a sort of lovable severity; we knew she was serious about the music, but that she did what she did because she truly did care about the music.  I think we have to remind ourselves the great risks that kids take upon themselves when they do music, and ensure that we respect that.  At the same time that we encourage good musicianship, and fewer technical mistakes, we must make our students feel comfortable in actually MAKING those mistakes so as to locate them, and help them along in their creative process.