Dealing with mistakes

Bruce Hamilton

Message 19103 · 27 Oct 1999 21:29:02 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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On Wed, 27 Oct 1999, "Eric Ferguson" <xxxxxxxx@xxxxxxx.xx> wrote:
>Could Bruce tell us a bit more of what he teaches, and about what
>habits we have to unlearn?

Margaret Connors asked me the same thing. I will write this up, but I
haven't time for a few weeks. In the meantime, we can have a useful
discussion. Let me ask you all, the next time you make a mistake, to
notice:
* What kind of help would you have liked? Be specific: would you
have liked to feel something? To see something? To hear
something? A combination of those? What would it have been --
what touch, what image, what sounds?
* When would you have liked it? For example, two bars before you
went wrong? One bar? One beat? Just after you realized you
wanted help?
* How many people would you have liked the help from? Which one(s)?
Where were they at the time?

And report to the list. It's hard to notice or remember all those
things, so just report on what you did notice and remember. Also, in
doing this, you'll sometimes make other mistakes as a result. Stay
focussed on the first one, or you'll wind up not remembering anything.

It is tempting to speculate on what other people want, or should want,
but it's more valuable to hear what you did want. I'll bet we see
some interesting patterns. (In fact, I suspect that in a week or two
my report will have little to add; but I still promise to write it.)

I'll be at the San Francisco Branch's Asilomar workshop this weekend,
where I plan to make my share of mistakes. I'll try to keep notes
too, and report on Monday.

>One recurring question you face when dancing with less experienced
>dancers is when to give discreet signs to help them avoid going wrong.
>I remember sometimes feeling irritated by such signs ("I don't need
>that help. I know perfectly well where I am going"), and in quite
>similar situations feeling relief ("thanks for that hint; you saved me
>from making a blooper").

This is an excellent point: how to tell whether help is wanted. My
answer (which is surely not The Answer) is that you guess, *and then
pay attention to what happens*. You can often tell when your help was
unwanted or unhelpful. If you keep doing this and genuinely care
about the results, your skill at guessing improves.

-Bruce

Bruce Hamilton Hewlett-Packard Laboratories MS-4AD
Phone 650-857-2818 PO Box 10150, Palo Alto, CA 94303-0889
Fax 650-852-8092 xxxxx_xxxxxxxx@xxx.xx.xxx

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