I have been playing the melodica (a.k.a. piano horn) in Albuquerque’s premier fake Gypsy punk band, Beke Dragoste, and I really am just learning to play the thing. I took a lot of piano lessons up until I was 13 or so, but have barely played keys since then, so I quickly realized I’m pretty lost on basic keys and scales. I’m OK with the chords but only beginning to figure out notes/leads and such. I’ve practiced a little, but since Beke is imminently moving away from Albuquerque it’s frankly been hard to dedicate too much practice to it, you know? So I’ve done my best but I keep hitting a lot of off notes. What can you do?

Sometimes when you hit the wrong key it’s not so bad. Other times a wrong note sounds really bad. One thing I’ve been trying to do is to recognize those really bad notes and where they tend to happen in songs, and just practice staying away from them. What I’ve learned so far is that if I can manage to stay away from the disastrous sounding notes, then the rest of my muddle isn’t so bad. (At least I hope not.)

This is one of many things I’ve learned while playing with Beke Dragoste. (It’s an awesome band and we are all mourning the departure of our leader.)

I think we can look at mistakes in general this way. Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s important to accept that. But it’s not a bad idea to put some specific effort into avoiding the big ones, the stupid mistakes that will really fuck you up.

And the little mistakes? Just learn, move on and let go. A lot of people won’t even notice them anyway. The alternative is to get stuck, and I find that a lot less tolerable than forging ahead knowing there will be stumbles.

I’m really glad I got to stumble around with Beke Dragoste. I think a tribute band may be in order.

(Photo by E. Christina Herr.)



  • If you make a “mistake” just do it again and it will sound like you meant to do it that way!
    Pretty sure that’s where Free Jazz came from!

  • As I learn to play banjo, the best advice I keep getting is “Just stay in time and on key. Whatever notes you end up hitting will sound like they belong there.”

    In other words: don’t back up to do a re-take. Just pound forward in time like you meant to do it.

  • Peri
    You’re awesome. In all sense of the word. Mistakes are how we learn – yes? Yes. Without them how would we clarify our dreams?
    They say that an idiot is a person who will repeatedly do the same thing with the same result each time, yet expect a different result.
    So you keep listening to the music, remember which notes work and which ones don’t, and groove along to the rest of the music. Great post. So glad I discovered your page!

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