"Perfection" seems to be the name of the game in our world today. Especially on social media, everything must be "perfect" - from the "perfect" shot to a "perfect" recording take, from seeing and envying "perfect" lives out there to "perfect" families. While we should strive for perfection in all its earnestness, it does not exist and because we are so obsessed with it, that idea of "perfect" has actually become a poison to us. It'll have to be a debate for another day, but we cannot deny that the perceptions of society are as such - we only see and like what is good and what feels good. Moreover, any and all flaws are harshly criticised, even if they are insignificant. We are policing and forcing our beliefs down people's throats, expecting them to conform to us and not the other way round.
Some time ago, a friend shared this article with me. It isn't long and is a pretty easy read. As performers, I'm sure we can all relate to things going awry and, as the author writes, have had nightmares giving an unprepared recital, or badly screwing up a prepared one - I certainly had my fair share during my recital and even with recent concerts! And although we prepare for our concerts or recitals or gigs, there will always be uncertainty, and Murphy's Law always creeps in - will the electronics work? Will the player remember to give his/her cue? Will I remember what the form is? And while all these scenarios play inside our heads, once the music starts, I think it's time to let go and be immersed in the "now" rather than the "what if" because if we are too distracted with it, the "what if" gradually tends to become reality.
But more importantly, I think it is completely human to screw up and to play imperfectly. And because of that imperfection, we want to better ourselves to be "perfect" even though we know perfection doesn't exist. That endless cycle of wanting to achieve it will help push boundaries and the craft of what we do. Personally, I have never played a recital where I hit all the right notes, and honestly, I probably never will. And while it seems like an unwise statement to make, I find comfort in what my teacher and mentor from Peabody, Bob van Sice, said to me in a lesson, that he has never played a concert where he hit all the right notes! There was probably only one instance where he came close to it (maybe missed 3-4 notes), but he never played a concert "perfectly".
(Phew! It really helps with the stress, knowing that marimba greats still miss notes!)
Having said that, it is not an excuse to perform below our standards! Hitting the right notes is important, but it isn't (and shouldn't be) the top priority because music is so much more than that! Noa shared a study on this and you should check it out - it's worth the read!
So while we constantly aim to achieve perfection, let us also embrace imperfection, for that is what makes us more fragile, more vulnerable and ultimately, more human.
As always, thanks for reading! Do leave your comments/thoughts below and I hope you guys stay safe and well.