A letter writer is mortified after screwing up an important concert solo.

Can a bit of encouragement help them get their mojo back?

Dear EWC

I play the trumpet and have been for most of my life. I am the first chair and get lots of solos/important parts. I had a solo for my youth orchestra concert (I’m in middle school) today, and I had this huge solo, opening theme of the song, really important. It was a very difficult solo, but I practiced so much I knew it by heart. I played the solo before I left to go to the concert, it was perfect. At the dress rehearsal, also pretty great. But during the actual performance, I completely effed it up. I don’t know what happened, and I don’t need to. I just feel so awful. It was the main part of the piece and I just screwed it all up. As I walked off stage people in the orchestra were glaring at me, and I know I let everyone down. I’m just so mad at myself for messing it up at the one important time. Especially since I could play it just fine before. I have never screwed up like this before, and I’m just so ashamed. I don’t know if I can live this one down or… Whatever. I love trumpet, I’m just scared to go onstage again after that… What should I do? I just don’t want to let everyone down again.

Beacons-of-Light replies

We are a group of seniors living in a retirement community, and we are glad you wrote to Elder Wisdom Circle. Throughout your lifetime, you are going to make countless mistakes. Some big, some small. Some of them you’ll be able to laugh off, and others may haunt you, but regardless of the mistake itself, the most important thing that speaks about you and your character is how you respond to the mistake, and how you learn from it. If you give up every time you mess up, you will never learn to grow as an individual. This failure may be a great lesson to give you strength! When we learn from our mistakes, we become better versions of ourselves, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Just look at this as a chance to grow and improve!

Try to breathe and relax, and most importantly forgive yourself. You’re young! Someday you’ll look back on this and laugh. It may be hard to see the big picture right now, but in the long run, you’ll be okay. Besides, most of the mistakes that people make seem bigger to the person who messed up, but in reality, aren’t as big to everyone else, and ultimately, people will forget! Take courage in the fact that you tried. Many people would have been too afraid to even try for a solo, so don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Try to forget about it, and get back on the horse. The best way to move on is to jump in.

If it helps, you could take ownership and apologize to your peers and try to start with a blank slate. I know you said you don’t need to know what happened, but it may be worthwhile to self reflect on what did happen, and what was going on in your head to possibly figure out what got you caught up when you played. If you can identify the issue, you can better work to address the problem so that it doesn’t happen again. Just remember, life is full of mistakes. This wasn’t your first error, nor will it be your last, but rather than letting it immobilize you with fear, let the mistakes educate you to better yourself as a musician, and as a person, and you will be much better for it. You’re gonna do great, kid! We wish you the best of luck, now and always!

Letter #: 440461
Category: Self-Improvement

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