Practice makes perfect... REALLY??

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

This week, let’s talk about misconceptions re: the famous saying “Practice makes perfect”.

Let's start with the word "perfect" or "perfection". In my life of practicing I found out the hard way that these words are at best an illusion, created by our own mind. Perfection represents only what we define as "perfect". The problem I generally have with the concept of perfection is that in order to really achieve it, one has to put their standards so low, that actually absolutely everyone will be able to ace it. So, does “Everyone able to ace it” can be associated with practicing piano, music and/or Arts to you? We can all agree that the answer is obviously no. No one ever reaches perfection when one talks about Arts in general. Practicing will have the beneficial aspect of developing your skills, your ability to master your craft, but perfection? It is and will remain stubbornly (sadly?) only a concept.

Going back to my personal experience, I remember spending hours and hours practicing very specific sections. I felt I was mastering them. I was able to perform during dress rehearsals and/or concerts, acing these sections.. Perfect though? No! and always no! Why? Because every time this “perfection” shows up, it comes with 2 friends: Expectations and Demands. I came to the realization that once we can master a specific aspect of our instrument, it opens the door to what could we next do better. That new door is opening another door, which opens another door, etc.). Interestingly too, philosophically speaking, this is the same process for everything we go through in life! That process is why perfection can’t exist, simply because our brain, ours demands, our expectations will never decrease, but increase, in other words, our mind will never run out of doors. I am not trying to dissuade you from practicing – because let’s face it, you will NEVER play or perform perfectly – rather the exact opposite. You WANT to practice as much as possible to go through that door, the next door, then the next door etc. Each door opens another world of wonders that could not have been opened unless the previous one was mastered. I find this journey amazingly exciting and surely puts me on the highest highs ever. I truly hope you will experience this over and over. As far as I can tell, my quest for knowledge has never nor will never end.

Because we discover this beautiful but endless amount of doors, we develop in the meantime something necessary to continue the learning process: modesty. Once we truly realize how long and rewarding the road is, we start asking ourselves the question: how many doors have I gone through so far? And the answer is often: very few.

So let’s stop thinking about perfection, rather let’s focus on expectations, demands and improvements. Let’s keep a modest approach to this beautiful endless road filled with doors ready to be opened, when we are ready to open them, and let’s enjoy a life full of learning and discovering wonders at every corner of our practice sessions and life in general too.

I will conclude with Einstein’s last words on his death bed; “I wish I had more time, I know so little and there is so much to learn.”

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