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