Make mistakes..!

SINGING in one of the best choirs in the country; the Paranjoti Academy Chorus, and under the illustrious Coomi Wadia, I think I have been spoilt silly. A point she emphatically enforces is that in case a choir member makes a mistake during rehearsals or even during a performance no other member is to turn round, correct the person or even show disapproval.
With this beautiful, but simple rule, members of this secular choir sing out, make mistakes, get corrected only by the conductor and learn to sing vibrantly, harmoniously and produce great music together!
It was last week I was invited to sing for another choir, for a concert they were practicing for! It was a whole new lot of choristers and new music I was going through. I followed what I’d always done; sang out and made a mistake and watched startled as a member in front turned around and glared! “You made a mistake!” he said later.
“I know!” I said, “Which is why I have come to rehearse with you all!” “To make mistakes?” he asked grinning. “To learn from them!” I said grinning back. “If I hadn’t sung out I would never have known where I’ve gone wrong!” He smiled and nodded.
We parted as friends but as he walked off I remembered an incident: In my unforgettable college days, a boy who sang next to me in the college choir never made a mistake. Not once was he pulled up by the professor who taught us, but one day this lad ceased to be a member of the choir. He and his voice were never missed.
The professor told us later why he had let him go. “He did not sing loud enough for anyone to hear him” said the professor, “as he was scared people would hear if he made a mistake and laugh at him!” And my mind goes to another little boy at a skating rink, where he is learning to ice skate. People watching him are concerned as he keeps falling, “Son!” says an observer kindly, “Hold onto the fence, then you won’t fall!” “Sir,” replies the little fellow, “I have come to learn to skate, and have to keep trying till I stop falling! If I hold onto the fence I will never learn to skate!”
I went home that day after the rehearsal, opened my music score and duly noted the place I’d bawled out where my voice was not needed to be heard! But I know I won’t do it again, because in making that mistake I know where I went wrong. Make mistakes, get corrected, and become perfect, and more importantly, be heard, rather than allowing others to hear your thundering silence because you are too scared to err..!

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