I was going to make this more of a theoretical post, expanding on the idea that you know, when you start the trill or the drill or the conversation, whether you’re going to try to solve the problem or whether you’re just going to run through the old stuff from beginning to end — and then I ended up creating a for-real example of this very scenario.

On video.

Here we go.

I wanted to show you how much this piece had improved since the last time I played it for you — and it really has, in every aspect. I’ve put a lot of disciplined, dedicated work into solving the problems required to play each individual ornament, to the point that when I begin the chromatic scale in the recapitulation, I immediately start it over because I recognize that I didn’t set myself up to play it accurately.

And then I decide to record a fresh video.

Because why would I want to share a video that is nearly exactly what I want it to be, except for the part where I start the chromatic scale over?

Well.

Here’s what happened next.

In this case, I play the chromatic run beautifully on the first go — and then I immediately have a memory lapse, probably because I was thinking “wow, I played that beautifully on the first go” instead of thinking about what was coming next.

(This, by the way, isn’t actually what leads to memory lapses. It’s when your brain jumps back into the piece again — catches up to your hands, as it were — and suddenly thinks “wait, where are we?”)

Anyway. I distract myself by my own success, I stumble over a few notes, and then I finish the piece WITHOUT TRYING TO SOLVE ANY OF THE PROBLEMS IN IT.

I just play through to the end.

I mean, the whole thing’s ruined, so why bother?

You can hear it, in the recording. I stop caring about what the end of the piece is going to sound like — because I am obviously never going to share this video with anyone EVER — and everything gets just a little bit sloppy and rushed and blurred.


It’s the same thing that happens with my Daily Spreadsheet. One red cell leads to more red cells, even though I could have focused on making the last fourteen measures of that particular performance the best they’d ever been.

Why didn’t I?

Because I decided, in that moment, that discipline didn’t count.

That specificity didn’t count.

That trying to make something better, learn something new, eke out the tiniest bit of improvement didn’t count.

I gave up all of the discoveries I could have made during the last fourteen measures of that piece, simply because I’d made one mistake.

And I knew, when I picked up after my memory lapse and started playing again, that this was the choice I was making.

Because we always know.

And I wish I’d made a different one. ❤️

Leave a Reply