Did you know that Honda was originally the last name of a Japanese scientist who spent his life developing his idea, trying different variations and being turned down before it came to full fruition and is now the make of car with which we are all familiar? Later in life an interviewer asked him about his “failures” before it finally all came together for him into the vehicle we know today. He responded by saying something to the effect of, “You talk about and label everything I did prior to my success as “failure.” It’s not failure. That is the process of bringing something to fruition.”
Some students struggle with the concept of failure in piano. If they make a mistake, they’ve failed. If they don’t get it right the first time, they’ve failed. Some even equate this perceived “failure” as they themselves are bad. One particular student wrestled with this issue for quite some time. With the parents and I on the same page, we were both determined not to give up on her.
One day I told her the Mr. Honda story and related it to piano. I mentioned that there were some mistakes in her playing she needed to fix, but they were not failures. They were the path to fruition. I asked her if she was up for addressing these mistakes. She said yes.
With a positive attitude and ears listening like a hawk she evaluated her own playing and rather than judging herself as bad if she made a mistake, she simply kept trying until she could do it well three times in row. She made remarkable progress in just that one lesson.
I asked her, “How long have you struggled with this spot in the music?”
“Months,” she answered.
“How long did it take to work out and correct the mistake?”
“One and a half minutes,” was her response with a smile on her face.
“What was the key to that?”
“Listening closely with a positive attitude.”
At the conclusion of her lesson she told her mom, “I am on the path to fruition.”
How about you? Are you on the path to fruition? It is through mistakes, listening for them, working them out and correcting them right as they happen that you too can succeed in piano. Mistakes are not failure. They are the path to fruition.