Just Keep Playing!

This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday– write for five minutes on a one word prompt.  The prompt today is “play.”

Just Keep Playing!

It was always drummed into me as the most important rule of sight-reading, especially when playing with a group.

Just keep playing!

It’s probably not going to be perfect. The temptation is always going to be to stop and correct it, or to slow down to make sure you get it absolutely right, but if you do that, while there’s a chance you might play the right notes, it’s a certainty that you’re going to end up in the wrong place.

Alternatively, you might be so frightened of getting it wrong that you don’t play at all. It’s understandable, but you’re never going to be able to play it if you don’t give it a go.

And I’ve found that when you take the risk and play, it usually turns out better than you expect, and even if it goes wrong, you learn from your mistakes.  It’s far better to just keep playing.

It strikes me that it’s good advice for life as well as for music: just keep playing!

Life feels like sight-reading a lot of the time. You have an idea of the basic rules that make it work, and of course it’s good to make sure you are as prepared as you can be, but every day is like a new and unfamiliar piece.

There may be familiar melodies or chord patterns that you can deal with easily, but every piece also has its tricky corners- the difficult rhythms, the technical challenges, the unexpected modulations.

You’re not always going to get it right, not the first time anyway. And of course there are times to slow down and look at the difficult bits: to practice, to polish, to perfect.

But most of the time the rhythm keeps going and others are depending on you to play your part.

I think the first step is letting go of perfection and trying to remember, whatever happens, just keep playing!

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19 thoughts on “Just Keep Playing!

  1. As soon as I saw today’s Five Minute Friday topic, I found myself looking forward to reading what you would write on the subject, Leslie. I knew it would have something to do with music, but I also knew there would be an applicable message for me. I wasn’t disappointed. The message to “just keep playing,” to not expect perfection but also not to give up was just what I needed this morning. Have a blessed day.

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    1. Thanks, Barbara! When I saw the word it had to be something to do with music. I’m glad it was what you needed- I definitely need to remind myself to keep going and not to expect perfection too. Hope you have a good day!

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  2. Indeed just keep playing! So much THIS: “And I’ve found that when you take the risk and play, it usually turns out better than you expect, and even if it goes wrong, you learn from your mistakes. It’s far better to just keep playing.” I’m in the 5 spot this week.

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  3. So good Lesley. I’ve muddled through a lot of sight reading learning quickly you either do that or get behind or lost as you said. I’ve never related it to life but you’re spot on with that too. Good life lesson here. Thanks

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    1. Thanks, Debby. I hadn’t really thought of it like that before either but as I was thinking about the prompt it came to mind. Just one of the things I love about FMF!

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  4. I needed to read this today, sister way across the pond. There are tears in my eyes right now. I wasn’t kidding in my post when I wrote that summer depresses me. Last night and so far today, everything has just seemed so bleak. Thank you for the encouragement to keep going. This heat won’t last forever, this mood won’t last forever.

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    1. So glad you found the post helpful, Marie. And yes, it does help when we’re struggling to realise that how we’re feeling won’t last forever. Praying for you!

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  5. “Just keep playing”. I play the piano a little, but it’s been so long I got on it the other night with a grandchild and I should of kept playing because I’ve lost some of it.

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    1. I’m sure it would begin coming back to you quite quickly if you started doing it regularly again. I’m definitely not as good on piano as I used to be either.

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  6. Such a good example and so applicable to all of life. Fear of making mistakes or drawing disapproval can immobilize us. It strikes me that this is also true of writing–but we have to keep going! Thanks for your reflection here.

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  7. As someone who was allowed to start playing in church orchestra as an eight-year-old, since I was legally blind and unable to read the hymnbooks, I can very much appreciate the message here.

    I am now 51 years young. My daughter, who is a teenager, learned early from me what I had to learn very early about recovering from mistakes. All of those years, as I learned how to play by ear in a church setting where anything goes as the Spirit leads, I made many errors. But I heeded to the advice of wise people who said, “Just look up and smile. Your contentment will drown out the dissidence of your imperfection. People will receive the spirit of what you play rather than be distracted by a few sour notes.” So, as I taught my daughter this lesson about performance, she applied it. When she plays and sings at church or elsewhere, she tells me later about how she smiled throughout the performance; of course she means to say that she recovered nicely.

    On a grand scale, we should do the same throughout our lives. But let not our smiles be insincere. We should be practiced in prayer so that God brings us true joy in our failures and sufferings. And then God could be glorified — for in his perfection, we are made perfect.

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