It's okay to have off-days. No matter how terrible or wonderful you think you are, you're human. Our society loves putting labels on things, and we certainly have favoritism at the forefront of our culture. When I was younger, I was a huge fan of Tiger Woods (pre-adulterous days....or pre-i/we-knew-about-the-adulterous-days-...-days). Even after the adultery, I'm still a fan of his in regard to his work ethic and skill set. He won more major championships at a young age than anyone in history, and is still only second to Jack Nicklaus. Even after all of those wins, who was I rooting for every tournament? Tiger. Lots of people root for the underdog, but I wanted the guy on top to keep winning. Why? Well, I'd read his book, "How I Play Golf". It's an amazing book, no matter how good or bad you are at golf. He was my golf guide. I had studied his swing, so to see it in action every tournament I watched just ingrained my admiration for his skills deeper and deeper. But, look at Tiger now. What a loser right? I mean, when's the last time he won a tournament? He's rebuilding his swing again? Wait, another injury? Give me a break. These kinds of thoughts go through so many people's minds. Why? I think it's our superhero-obsessed society being totally disappointed in a previous superstar. But, there's something so wrong with that. Does the fact that Tiger is losing now make his previous accomplishments any less great?
I firmly believe we must continue to push ourselves, even at a feverish pace, day after day, always improving, always striving, always determined to be better. That's how we measure up, that's what we can feel good about, that's what we live for. So, when we have an off day, even if it's at the most inconvenient time, forgive yourself. I recently performed Totentanz by Franz Liszt in Montana with the Great Falls Symphony. It went pretty well, but I had 5 or 6 completely idiotic slips that had never happened before, and they were on easy parts (well, easy for Totentanz). I felt like I played the hardest parts as well as I ever had, which only added to my frustration. The run through 40 minutes before had gone perfectly. The rehearsals the previous two days were absent of such stupidity. Why did it have to happen at that moment? My nerves were under control. I was prepared. I had worked like crazy to make sure this was as good as it could be. So why did it crumble in a few places?
I've thought a lot about it. It wasn't lack of preparation. And to be honest, it probably was nerves, maybe suppressed nerves because I was totally calm on stage, but it sure didn't feel like nerves. I'm just going to call it what it was - an off-day, or an off-performance. And that's it. I move on. I don't obsess (well, besides this post, and my next YouTube video, and THEN I'll be done obsessing) because obsessing over mistakes is pointless. If you make a mistake, move on. As much as I hate to admit it, I'm going to screw up on stage many more times throughout my life. But, I'm also going to have a lot of incredible opportunities to perform, and I'm positive that the vast majority of those will go well. My mom has always had a good way of looking at performance anxiety and mistakes. "About how many notes are in that piece?" "No idea, maybe 10,000? Totally rough estimate" "Okay, and out of 10,000 how many did you miss?" "Well, I was so stupid, and I messed up in like 5 or 6 places like a total moron. How could I have done that? I mean... [insert whining here]" "And how many notes were in those 5 or 6 places?" "I don't know, maybe 10 or 20". Even the most brilliant minds around would admit that a 1/1000th, or a .001 margin of error is pretty good, in any field of study. Off-days happen.
Okay, moving on now.... :)
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