Transforming the Word “Mistake” Through our Music Practice, Part 2 by FMC Teacher Jess

Part 2: “Failing can be fun!”

I remember a pivotal moment in my musical career at the age of 10. While I was preparing for an adjudication festival on Flute, I had been practicing for 1- 2 hours everyday on top of attending gymnastics, soccer, basketball, and maintaining A’s in school. If you’re a parent…does this familiar? I recall having a breakdown in front of my flute teacher when I made a mistake during one of the pieces we had been working on. For the rest of the night, I felt embarrassed and I thought about why ‘failing’ had gotten me so upset. Furthermore, it had urked me to practice even more! I realized failing was pretty cool in the way that it transformed me. That was one of the last times I got upset over learning something challenging because it only helped me to want to be better…




If we can change our mindset that it is a positive thing to make a mistake, then we have won in the world of education. Furthermore, if we can honor the fact that we even recognized that we made a mistake, then we can move mountains! This is so important for children and all ages. It’s beautiful to see a student smile when they make a mistake and they have learned to deal with their stress and fear of failing and turn it into something positive. Without our capacity to accept failure then we cannot succeed. This is one of the most important things that my musical practice has taught me. 19 years later, it continues to help me develop in a positive direction in many aspects of life.

There are many factors at play while learning a musical instrument, whether it be your voice, guitar, piano, or a wind instrument. Not only do your eyes and ears have to be trained, but the muscles in your fingers and mouth also have to connect with your brain at the same time. This is what we call muscle memory. We use muscle memory everyday, however, music practice involves the more refined version. This type of memory not only enables a musician to be able to play their instrument with their eyes closed, but also helps us read music and move our fingers to what we see on the sheet music. Eventually, our brain stops thinking about what our fingers are doing and we can let the music unfold. Isn’t that pretty neat? When I explain this to my younger students, they think it is pretty funny that our fingers also need to learn how to move correctly and that it does take time. This is also where young music students start having conversations with finger numbers 4 and 5, “Behave and listen up fingers!” while they courageously laugh at their musical ‘mistake.’ Transformation through music education is a powerful tool to develop many skills of your mind, control emotions, connect with others, boost confidence, embody creativity and imagination, and so much more! Patience and having some fun while creating music for your family and friends has so much power. It’s never too late to learn a musical instrument.

Source: Jess W – Music and Yoga

Courtesy of Jess W. – Jess W. is an music and yoga instructor in the Greater New York area who often combines the awareness of body, posture, and breath into her lessons. As a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, she remains immersed in the world of jazz, classical, soul, funk, and world music. Jess loves working with children of all ages and strives to keep the inspiration, passion, and creativity alive while helping the student understand the joy that music can bring.

Also be sure to check out Part 1 of this series: “Fight or Flight Response, it’s ok, it’s not our fault!”

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