Perfectionism

“For every complex problem there is an easy answer,
and it is wrong.”

H.L. Mencken

I am rarely unequivocal. A true and unrehabilitatable liberal, I’m always open to the possibility that someone else’s idea just might be better than mine. But this is one topic on which I take no prisoners. (The other one, specifically audition-related, is here.)

Perfectionism is not a virtue. Is it not viable. It is not desirable. It doesn’t even make you a martyr to your art. It’s selfish, dysfunctional, and dangerous.

If you take comfort in your perfectionism, I dare you to change. It’s too often an excuse for making hard choices, and ultimately, it’s not about the task at hand; it’s about you. If your allow your quest for perfectionism to get in the way of doing the best you can and acknowledging that that might just be enough, you’re putting yourself ahead of the work.

When told by a violinist that a difficult passage in the violin concerto
was virtually unplayable, Stravinsky is supposed to have said:
“I don’t want the sound of someone playing this passage,
I want the sound of someone trying to play it!”

I think that Benjamin Zander included this quote in his book The Art of Possibility. (I loaned my book and it didn’t come back, but that’s OKJ).   No matter; the point is that even composers aren’t looking for clinical perfection in performances of their music. If that doesn’t get your knickers out of their knots, I don’t know what will.

(Time to throw in one of my periodic caveats: If you are the kind of person who is all-too-comfortable with imperfection, this is not for you. Walk away from the computer and go practice.)

“I don’t know the key to success,
but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.”

Bill Cosby

Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend. Make some music, get some perspective, and remember that the application deadline for our second set of audition cities (Cincinnati, LA, & San Francisco) is at midnight tonight!  :)

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