Revisiting: Concerts, Music, and Failure

In my 9th "Things on my mind" post, I said:

They say that failure is sometimes better than success in informational terms. Thus, one of my resolutions for the new year is to take up an endeavor to fail at. The criteria for failure, in this case, is simple, I have to be alive and in good health after the failure to implement the lessons from the failure. This might be a bad idea but I am interested to see how I react to the incentives when failure, in some sense, is the goal, and thus, achieving failure defines success in that domain. The most obvious but tricky problem is finding that activity."

I have found that activity: "Wind ensemble (in-person) concerts" (and, if I fail successfully, the opera.) I believe this is a good choice because it is exhilarating, and I learned a lot about my cognition (...shocker of shocks!) I never realized how much the hall contributes to the overall experience of the concert (or the guy who won't stop coughing.) And at the margins, the bald elderly gentleman engrossed in the music is the one to emulate but ignore until the intermission.

You might ask, how does one fail at attending wind ensemble concerts? Beyond the more obvious ones, failure in this activity would be to remain unaware of the norms. The idea is this: I want to, voluntarily, fail at picking up the norms, and compare notes with my mentor to see if my concert experience is different. Further, because I can't read music and can only play the recorder, my appreciation most likely fails at the level of intricacies, but I plan on keeping that.

Another weird but massive way I failed at this concert is truly focusing on the music. This lack of focus is a failure on my part from unuse. In other words, I find it tricky to focus on music because the kind of "focus" required is fundamentally foreign to me. I can focus on a book because I have practiced that type of focus my whole life; I know how to focus in class, even though I don't do it as often as I should. However, even when I do, in fact, fail at those margins, I am aware that focusing in these domains is not a foreign concept.

Overall, my interactions with music have usually been instrumental (literally and philosophically.) I am self-taught on the drums which means most of my music consumption is of instrumental value. I listen to music to learn to play the drums or play at a gig or church. Thus, to train myself to enjoy these concerts more, I plan on meditating. The goal with this is to learn to be more present which is positively useful for the thorough enjoyment of the musical experience. In this domain, I will fail a lot. In a roundabout way, the failure at meditation is the point. These failures will indicate the things that affect my focus and help correct them at the margins. So join me. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, and hum along.

Certainty rating: 82%


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