Tips and Advice

How I Learnt to Fail

How I Learnt to Fail

In addition to being Autistic, I have clinically diagnosed  Atychiphobia, or to put it another way a fear of failure. Therefore failing is not just an uncomfortable experience for me to endure, it is something I will avoid at all costs. The irony is that by avoiding the potential success, I fail anyway.

Therefore, instead of hiding away from failure, complete the task anyway.

Of course, if it’s going to bankrupt you or potentially kill you; Stop doing it immediately! On the other hand, if the worst that is going to happen is that you are going to fail at the task; Continue and complete. Once completed, you can either sulk about it not succeeding, or look for a way to use it for future success.

Before I composed A Mummer’s Farce, I attempted another percussion piece called ‘this is a joke’ to submit for the COMA Summer School in 2014. It was terrible. There was no rhythm. The ‘joke’ was far too hidden to even be funny. There was many a problem with the piece itself.

The success on the other hand, was how I presented it. Ok, so it was no masterpiece, but it gave me an opportunity to build a connection with the percussionist who was workshopping the submitted scores. If I had sulked after I discovered that the piece did not translate from paper into the real world, I would not have made a good impression on someone who has given me guidance since. Instead, I talked to him about my process, and tried to figure out how and where it went wrong (turns out that it was because I took the binary code I used too literally).

Because I didn’t sulk and let it get me down, I now have two pieces performed  by Chris Brannick (the second being LionHeart1189).

It’s not an easy thing to do, but since I started learning how to fail I have never been so relaxed with my studies. Sure, there may be a chance that I could fail my Masters. But I could either aim for failure, or aim for success. Which one sounds better to you? In addition, along the way I could use it as a way to learn new compositional techniques, that way even if I do fail the course, I won’t be failing overall.

If I had not learnt how to fail, I would not have succeeded in my Creative Project, which required me to break toys to create an instrument that is designed to fail over time. Failure was inherently built into that project. Also, let’s not forget that by using chance or indeterminacy, there is always a possibility that the results are impossible for a performer to play perfectly, and thus failure is as much a part of the interpretation of the material as any other part.

Originally published on: 24th August 2017
Edited and Revised on: 28th February 2022
Johanne-Bryce Hodgson
(formerly: Jason Hodgson)



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