perfection is not very communicative. for ma (yo-yo ma) the tedium of the flawless performance taught him that there is often a tradeoff between perfection and expression. if you are only worried about not making a mistake, then you will communicate nothing, he says, you will have missed the point of making music, which is to make people feel something.
i welcome that first mistake. because then i can shrug it off and keep smiling. then i can get on with the performance and turn off that part of the mind that judges everything. i'm not thinking or worrying anymore. and it's when i'm least conscious of what i'm doing, when i'm just lost in the emotion of the music, that i'm performing at my best.
there is something scary about letting ourselves go. it means that we will screw up, that we will relinquish the possibility of perfection. it means that we will say things we didn't mean to say and express feelings that we can't explain. it means that we will be onstage and not have complete control, that we won't know what we're going to play until we begin, until the bow is drawn across the strings.