There's no such thing as a wrong note

This week, I've had some interesting conversations with my students who are so preoccupied by playing "one wrong note". I was trying to communicate that there are no wrong notes in performance - just surprises. Sometimes, they are delightful surprises that lead to an exciting and personalized performance. Others - not so pleasant. Here are a few other quotes from the pros on the subject:

  • There’s no such thing as a wrong note. - Art Tatum
  • There are no wrong notes in jazz: only notes in the wrong places. -Miles Davis
  • It's not the note you play that's the wrong note - it's the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong. - Miles Davis
  • To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. -Joseph Chilton Pearce
  • There are no mistakes in jazz - you are always a semitone from salvation! - church joke
  • There are no wrong notes; some are just more right than others. – Thelonius Monk
  • “Do not fear mistakes. There are none. - Miles Davis
  • "There are no wrong notes, only wrong resolutions" "I think of all harmony as an expansion and a return to the tonic."— Bill Evans
  • There are no wrong notes on the piano, just better choices.—Thelonious Monk
  • I played the wrong, wrong notes.—Thelonious Monk

How appopos. I had a few surprises in one of the pieces I performed last night at the BeatNiq. I made it through some to my delight (others, I was just glad to plow through the line and be done with it). I added a few new elements I wasn't sure I could pull off since they were truly last minute additions. Throwing in the Mission Impossible Theme into a 5/8 version of What Child Is This? was one of those pleasant surprises.

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