Coping with mistakes/failures

Well it does to the people who post here... dispassionate and reasoned debate, with a good deal of humour thrown in for good measure.

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Hare
Posts: 572
Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2004 12:12 pm
Parish / Diocese: Home Counties

Coping with mistakes/failures

Post by Hare » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:47 pm

I had a feeling there had been a similar topic in the past, but can't actually find it... Apologies in advance is this is a duplication!
 
We all make mistakes from time to time, and suffer problems caused by others.  In over 40 years of playing in church, at the end of last year I had the worst "disaster" I have ever suffered.  To cut a long story short, at a very big service which was supposed to proceed unannounced, the priest for some reason announced everything - sometimes at unexpected points.  I was caught on the hop with an announcement of a choir piece (Warlock:  Where riches is everlastingly)  Owing to colds / fatigue amongst choir members it had been decided to perform it in C Minor rather than D Minor. Being caught "off guard"  I totally forgot, and played it as writ in d; not having "perfect pitch" I thought nothing of it, until I realized the choir just could not "pitch" it.  The performance collapsed - with much sniggering from the congregation.  I apologized to the choir afterwards - they were surprisingly unbothered by it.  I apologized to the priest, and asked if my apology could be printed in the following week's news sheet, but he said it wasn't necessary, although I pointed out that the choir, who were blameless, seemed to have been at fault to the ears of the congregation. 
 
I was - and still am - totally devastated by what happened.  My (admittedly rather silly) immediate "knee-jerk" reaction at the time was to resign from every professional body, unsubscribe from Facebook organists' groups, and "unfriend" on Facebook all my musical contacts as I felt totally unworthy to remain in contact! 
 
I just wondered how others cope with such things?

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VML
Posts: 674
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2004 12:57 am
Parish / Diocese: Clifton Diocese
Location: Glos

Re: Coping with mistakes/failures

Post by VML » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:48 pm

Just thank God you are human. When I have a few minutes I will tell you about my epic failure.

alan29
Posts: 1062
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 8:04 pm
Location: Wirral

Re: Coping with mistakes/failures

Post by alan29 » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:34 am

I expect we have all had similar experiences. They are part of the human condition - sod's law.
Mine was playing the St Anne Fugue at the end of an ordination. I thought I had learned it. I hadn't. The service had been two hours long and I was exhausted. It just ground to a halt half way through while they were still processing out and the church was full.
Lesson learned - make sure I only ever play things in public that I am totally in control of. Ensure it doesn't happen again.

IncenseTom
Posts: 194
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:50 pm
Parish / Diocese: Diocese of Leeds

Re: Coping with mistakes/failures

Post by IncenseTom » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:52 am

I've got some shockers.........

The sort which make me feel ill when I think of them years after the event.

The best thing I've found is to dust myself down and be that bit more prepared/on the ball next time. It's important to get back on the horse quickly and start 'banking' solid performances to keep the mental game up.

Peter
Posts: 239
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:05 pm

Re: Coping with mistakes/failures

Post by Peter » Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:22 am

Hare wrote:I had a feeling there had been a similar topic in the past, but can't actually find it... Apologies in advance is this is a duplication!

The thread you are thinking of, Hare, is http://www.ssg.org.uk/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=611/, and very sad reading it is, as the originator, despite many sympathetic and supportive comments, continued to beat him/herself up over one perceived disaster and refused to be comforted. I really hope you’re not going down the same road: as that thread and the comments so far on the present one show, we all make mistakes from time to time, especially if thrown by something unexpected, and one “disaster” in 40 years is not bad going. Although I’ve, fortunately, never been responsible for a “very big service” things have gone wrong on my watch and if I had resigned at the first one my church would probably have very little if any music at the moment.

One event many years ago, albeit a secular concert rather than a liturgy, springs to my mind. A choir in which I sang was performing a piece for which I had provided English words and copied out all the choral and orchestral parts by hand. On the night, the conductor started to conduct the world’s first-ever four-beat polonaise and the performance nearly fell apart; as the piece was unknown, the audience probably didn’t notice, but the orchestra had some choice names for him in the interval. After the concert he apologised to me (given the effort I’d put into preparing the parts) with the words “It’s the first time I’ve done that and I hope to God it’s the last!” I won’t name him here but will say that he is one of this country’s most distinguished musicians and if the incident had caused him to give up I would have been deprived of many memorable Proms, not to mention all the other fine performances he has given elsewhere in this country and abroad. Even someone of that calibre can make a mistake.

In your case, Hare, you have done what you could to ameliorate the situation by apologising to the choir and to the priest, receiving in both cases reactions that suggest they have no hard feelings and are ready to forgive – presumably well aware that it was a one-off that won’t negate a long record of good service. I do hope you will feel able to put the incident behind you and carry on: even though I’m not likely to visit your church I do enjoy your posts on this forum.

Hare
Posts: 572
Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2004 12:12 pm
Parish / Diocese: Home Counties

Re: Coping with mistakes/failures

Post by Hare » Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:27 am

Peter wrote:
Hare wrote:I had a feeling there had been a similar topic in the past, but can't actually find it... Apologies in advance is this is a duplication!

The thread you are thinking of, Hare, is http://www.ssg.org.uk/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=611/, and very sad reading it is, as the originator, despite many sympathetic and supportive comments, continued to beat him/herself up over one perceived disaster and refused to be comforted. I really hope you’re not going down the same road: as that thread and the comments so far on the present one show, we all make mistakes from time to time, especially if thrown by something unexpected, and one “disaster” in 40 years is not bad going. Although I’ve, fortunately, never been responsible for a “very big service” things have gone wrong on my watch and if I had resigned at the first one my church would probably have very little if any music at the moment.

One event many years ago, albeit a secular concert rather than a liturgy, springs to my mind. A choir in which I sang was performing a piece for which I had provided English words and copied out all the choral and orchestral parts by hand. On the night, the conductor started to conduct the world’s first-ever four-beat polonaise and the performance nearly fell apart; as the piece was unknown, the audience probably didn’t notice, but the orchestra had some choice names for him in the interval. After the concert he apologised to me (given the effort I’d put into preparing the parts) with the words “It’s the first time I’ve done that and I hope to God it’s the last!” I won’t name him here but will say that he is one of this country’s most distinguished musicians and if the incident had caused him to give up I would have been deprived of many memorable Proms, not to mention all the other fine performances he has given elsewhere in this country and abroad. Even someone of that calibre can make a mistake.

In your case, Hare, you have done what you could to ameliorate the situation by apologising to the choir and to the priest, receiving in both cases reactions that suggest they have no hard feelings and are ready to forgive – presumably well aware that it was a one-off that won’t negate a long record of good service. I do hope you will feel able to put the incident behind you and carry on: even though I’m not likely to visit your church I do enjoy your posts on this forum.


Thanks for that link - I don't actually remember it having read it through, but it may be the one I was thinking of.

Peter
Posts: 239
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:05 pm

Re: Coping with mistakes/failures

Post by Peter » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:26 am

Perhaps I should have been less prescriptive and phrased the start as "Is this the thread you're thinking of?" :oops: I can't think of another like it, though maybe someone else can.

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