Why should you let your child fail...


When I was 12, I was asked to play a memorized piano solo for my youth group. I’d played recitals several times, but this was different, because it was in front of my peers. I failed big time. I forgot my place in the music and never recovered. My non water mascara started running as midnight black tears fell all over my 80’s style gray and purple jumpsuit. I ran to the bathroom and locked myself in, convinced I had destroyed my life forever and I’d never play again. Yeah, clearly that didn’t happen. Here’s the thing: I survived. It sucked and I was embarrassed, but I lived to play another day. A very wise person asked me just two years later to start playing at church every Sunday. I was petrified, but he assured me I’d have support: my mom would be the chorister. So every week, I’d learn a new hymn on our old home piano while my mom conducted the music and encouraged me. I remember which songs I loved and which ones I hated (curse you Home Can Be A Heaven On Earth), but guess what? I learned how to play in front of people. I messed up – yep, again and again. I was 14, what did you expect? But it was my “church job”, so I went back every Sunday and did it again, until I learned that $%^& hymnbook and could play with ease. Somewhere along the way, I embraced my lack of perfection and learned to do my personal best. This experience has served me in countless ways over the years, as I’ve been asked to accompany multiple choirs and soloists, often at a moment’s notice.


When I was 12, I was asked to play a memorized piano solo for my youth group. I’d played recitals several times, but this was different, because it was in front of my peers. I failed big time. I forgot my place in the music and never recovered. My non mascara started running as midnight black tears fell all over my 80’s style gray and purple jumpsuit. I ran to the bathroom and locked myself in, convinced I had destroyed my life forever and I’d never play again. Yeah, clearly that didn’t happen. Here’s the thing: I survived. It sucked and I was embarrassed, but I lived to play another day. A very wise person asked me just two years later to start playing at church every Sunday. I was petrified, but he assured me I’d have support: my mom would be the chorister. So every week, I’d learn a new hymn on our old home piano while my mom conducted the music and encouraged me. I remember which songs I loved and which ones I hated (curse you Home Can Be A Heaven On Earth), but guess what? I learned how to play in front of people. I messed up – yep, again and again. I was 14, what did you expect? But it was my “church job”, so I went back every Sunday and did it again, until I learned that $%^& hymnbook and could play with ease. Somewhere along the way, I embraced my lack of perfection and learned to do my personal best. This experience has served me in countless ways over the years, as I’ve been asked to accompany multiple choirs and soloists, often at a moment’s notice.


Perfectionism is a crutch: it keeps us from GOING FOR IT. IF we can’t be perfect, why do it at all, right? WRONG. The more mistakes we make in front of others, the more resilient we become, the more we can laugh at ourselves, the more we leave ourselves open for some of our greatest triumphs. We will never get over the anxiety of performing until we just do it. With the support of our caring and enthusiastic teachers, your student WILL be able to play something, even if it’s just a few measures. What I LOVE about our student recitals is that our audiences are SO supportive and kind – they love to see each and every student do their personal best, whether its a masterpiece, a mess, or somewhere in the middle. The mess will learn to prepare a little more next year, the one in the middle will aspire to even greatest things, and the masterpiece will truly know what it feels like to have given your all and have it pan out, and they will ALL celebrate afterwards with a feast and a flower. Now and then, a student will have clinical anxiety, which is an entirely different matter, and needs to be dealt with on an individual basis between parent, student, and teacher, and please let us know if that is the case. But if your child is struggling with garden variety nerves, cold feet, or the need to be perfect, I encourage you to give them a chance to fail. In doing so, they just might succeed J

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