Slice of Life Challenge day 13 #sol17

I need to be careful not to focus on ‘getting it right’ so much of the time…

Title: “Don’t lose the joy”

“Let’s do it one more time.” The voice came loud and clear through the monitor speakers.  It was Frank, our lead guitarist.  We had just finished our second take of his original tune, “Diggin’ Mr. Fox,” a funky blues tune with a killer unison riff at the top.  It had been a productive day so far, with one tune already ‘in the can’ (as they say in the music industry).

My bandmates and I were now about to lay down the tracks for a third take of “Mr. Fox,” and I felt the nerves fluttering down into my fingers, as they hovered over the keyboard. Within the interior of my stomach, a bevy of butterflies had suddenly taken circular flight.  Although I had practiced my solo for this song about 37 times the night before, trying to play it live with everybody- not to mention with the Record button depressed- was completely different than jamming it alone in my basement.  I took a huge breath and exhaled. “Don’t mess this up,” I told myself.


Suddenly I heard the click of the drumsticks. Okay, it’s go time.  I leaned over the keys and prepared to play.

And it was then that I remembered- wait a minute… this is fun.  This. Is. Fun!

Yes, all the hours of practice and lessons, rehearsals and performances, arpeggios and scales – all of these had led me to this recording studio moment not so that it could be ‘perfect,’ but so it could be fun.  Many of us, perhaps, forget… when we focus so much on getting it ‘right,’ we sometimes allow all the joy to trickle out.

As the song progressed and my solo approached, I felt myself connect with the spirit of this music.  And gradually, the recording became more about delighting in this experience and allowing a creative spirit to flow than nailing a flawless musical execution.  Here came the hits into the break- it was my turn…and you know what? I let that spirit flow.



Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

15 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge day 13 #sol17”

  1. I sing in my church choir and occasionally will sing a solo. I always get nervous, but I find the best solos are when I relax and feel the spirit. It is fun! Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As teachers we are so driven to get things right, we forget to give ourselves room to learn through mistakes. This is where we lose the joy, isn’t it? Thank you for your thoughtful reflections. Since I too, am a singer I could totally related to the pressure we put on ourselves during a performance. I’m glad you were able to talk to yourself about loosening up. It starts with our “head talk” doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, I agree completely. The mind is a scary place to be in alone! It’s all about the language we use, even the “head talk” language matters so much. Thanks for your thoughtful feedback. It’s been nice to connect with other musicians through this post!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Technically beautiful but passionless VS flawed but full of life…I remember being told once, and I don’t care if it is true or not because I love the ides, that carpet weavers of many cultures weave in an intentional mistake because the only thing perfect is God.


  4. Music — for oneself or for performance purposes — should be a part of everyone’s life.
    Funny that you wrote this today. I was lamenting about how I cannot play the flute anymore to my daughter when we were listening to a CD on the car ride to school. I asked her what she thought of the sound of the flute on the CD and she liked it. Perhaps she’ll one day want to play my old flute that’s been sitting in its case almost daily since my car accident in ’98.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! I am trying to teach my oldest daughter piano and it’s wonderful to see how music affects kids. This post has been a pleasantly surprising way to connect with other musical writers in the challenge.
      I think you’re right, there’s a good chance your daughter will someday play that flute. I hope she does. I began my musical journey on my father’s saxophone!


  5. Oh, wow! You learn something new every day through reading slices! Impressive! I love your advice … I need to remember to have fun more in parenting and at school as life should be fun! Go with the flow of the music. We read HAPPY DREAMER tonight for our bedtime story and this descries you: “But my dreams have a mind of their own. Sometimes my mind just takes flight! I hear a beat and I gotta move …. Then I hear another and another! Wish you could hear inside my head. Trumpety, ZIGZAG JAZZ!” Enjoy the music!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am not musical at all, but I admire those who are. I can only imagine how much fun it is to be part of a group that is able to make many instruments into one piece of music. As for me, I promise to enjoy, clap, dance and sing along. That’s my “fun” contribution to such creativity and talent.

    Liked by 1 person

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