It’s exam season and for the first time in around 20 years I’m preparing for an exam. My Grade 5 Theory of Music examination, to be exact. Having taken up flute playing after a hiatus of a couple of decades I’ve spent the last eighteen months cramming in 5-grades-worth of theoretical knowledge. It’s been tough, but satisfying.
The test of whether I’ve understood it all will come in a fortnight when I sit the exam. And the point of an exam, let’s face it, is to pass the thing. But one of the most important things I’ve realised during the learning period is how very valuable mistakes are.
It’s seeing what I’ve done wrong and what I’ve failed to grasp that has enabled me to really understand music theory and how it strengthens my practical musicianship. I strongly suspect that if I didn’t do anything wrong I wouldn’t actually learn anything. On many occasions I’ve left answers I knew to be wrong in my workbooks so I could discuss with my teacher HOW I’ve reached the wrong answer because that then set me firmly on the path of getting it right.
I’d go so far now as to say I love my mistakes. Being wrong is an important step on the road towards being right. I just hope I’ve made enough mistakes to pass on the day.
Wish me luck!