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Post new topic The trap of perfectionism - interesting essay
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Author Topic:  The trap of perfectionism - interesting essay
Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 11:05 am     Reply with quote

Steve Treseler | Saxophone | Creative Music Blog

Quote:
The trap of perfectionism keeps us from making the impact we seek.
Endless polishing and tinkering is one way we hide from emotional risk. We may tell ourselves that if our work is perfect, it will be immune from criticism. I know a jazz musician who has been working on his first album for over ten years because he wants it to be perfect. Insulating ourselves from risk feels safe in the moment, but it keeps our original contributions bottled up inside.

I certainly get stuck in this trap. I’m usually able to let mistakes go on stage, but the scrutiny of mixing a record triggers my perfectionism impulse. After fixing an egregious mistake with studio magic, I start hearing smaller imperfections and could continue polishing and hiding forever.

We can have high standards, but perfect is off the table. The artists we most admire aren’t perfect, yet they continue to perform, record, and amass a body of work.

An obsession with perfect also puts us into a defensive performance mindset—we try to avoid errors rather than play courageously on stage.

In his three-minute TED Talk, bestselling author Seth Godin tells us, “We need to care enough to connect, care enough to put ourselves at risk emotionally in order to touch other people. . .But we have to be brave enough to ship it before it’s ready, because it’s never ready.”

The only way to touch another person with your music is to share it. The sharing may be an album, concert, YouTube video, or informal performance for friends and family. Shipping a project is your invitation to begin a new one.

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Larry Carlson


From:
My Computer
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 1:10 pm     Reply with quote

Guilty as charged.
However I am trying to stop being so anal about things.
I spend way too much time recording, re-recording, editing fiddling etc.
I even drive myself nuts at times.
It is disappointing to find out that I am not perfect though........
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 2:17 pm     Reply with quote

Steven Stills played a wrong bass note on the Judy Collins album he produced, but it doesn't stop me listening to it.

Stravinsky's own recording of his Symphony In Three Movements has a split trumpet note on the very last chord, but it's still the definitive recording.

The beautifully presented offerings of The Carpenters or Chicago would be just as good if they were a shade rougher.

It's the musical thought that counts.
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 3:22 pm     Reply with quote

Ian Rae wrote:
Steven Stills played a wrong bass note on the Judy Collins album he produced, but it doesn't stop me listening to it.

Yeah, but does it stop HIM from listening to it? Prolly...
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 3:39 pm     Reply with quote

Good point, Jim Smile I guess it may.
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Don R Brown


From:
Rochester, New York, USA
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 6:10 pm     Reply with quote

It may have been Jeff Newman, or maybe someone else, who said of getting out and playing live "Don't wait until you're ready, you never will be."

Not sure I have the words quoted exactly right, but the message is clear.
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Roddy Ring


From:
Alexandria, Virginia, USA
Post Posted 11 Jan 2017 10:22 am     Perfection Reply with quote

Jim Cohen makes a good point. I played on a local cable morning show with a friend to promote his performances that coming weekend. The rest of the band wasn't arriving til the afternoon after the TV appearance which is why he needed a sub. I did it and enjoyed it very much. I played at least one clinker so I never want to hear or see that performance. But I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.
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Jim Peter


From:
Mendon,Mich USA
Post Posted 24 Jan 2017 6:41 am     Reply with quote

As a mechanical engineer we have the same problem. When designing a new product we will test and redesign a new product until it is perfect, which will never happen. There is a saying where I work, ‘At some point you have to shoot the engineer and release the product’.
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Allan Haley


From:
British Columbia, Canada
Post Posted 24 Jan 2017 7:23 am     Reply with quote

My teacher used to say, "It's never finished, just abandoned."
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Barry Blackwood


Post Posted 24 Jan 2017 9:16 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
An obsession with perfect also puts us into a defensive performance mindset—we try to avoid errors rather than play courageously on stage.

I suffered from DPM (defensive performance mindset) in the studio and consequentially never thought I gave a great performance there..
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Clyde Mattocks


From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 24 Jan 2017 6:09 pm     Reply with quote

A recording should be a snapshot of what you're playing at the time. You shouldn't expect it to be definitive of your life's work.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 25 Jan 2017 5:58 am     Reply with quote

Most times, good enough is good enough. Give it your best, within available time constraints, and then move on to something else. For instance, some players become so obsessed with perfecting their "tone" that they never learn to play very well. That's kinda like putting a flawless finish on a piece of crappy furniture.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 25 Jan 2017 7:58 am     Reply with quote

This thread brings to mind the old saying "Perfect is the enemy of good." And "Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without."
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