Sometimes I can’t read the words I’ve written. It will happen at the end of a long day when the TV studio lights feel brighter than usual, the speaker in my ear seems louder and the words in the teleprompter appear incomprehensible.
As the words scroll in front of me, my mouth struggles to say them. And then I become hyper-aware that there are more than a couple of colleagues behind the cameras watching – you may be too.
When I make mistakes in front of a live audience, sweat drips down my back. When things don’t go according to plan for percussionist Kelby MacNayr he ponders the possibilities.
The jazz drummer has worked on more than 50 albums over the past 20 years and says mistakes can either “knock you down, or make your ride more exciting.”
MacNayr describes playing live, improvised jazz as “running downhill fast in the woods.” He says the key is to stay focused on the goal of moving forward and having fun. “If that’s your intention, it doesn’t matter if you trip slightly or fall and bail. You’re still moving with fun.”
MacNayr’s latest album is called The Measure of Light. It’s performed by a quintet of Canada’s top musicians including Juno winner Phil Dwyer, Daniel Lapp, Miles Black and Tom Wakeling.
Like all successful jazz recordings, it captures compelling collaborations. And that’s why MacNayr says the only real mistake you can make in music is pursuing a selfish intention, “like letting ego take over while playing a drum solo (which always ends up) unmusical.”
I agree. You can’t make TV alone. It takes videographers, editors, writers, producers and the countless crew members who are responsible for audio, lighting, directing, graphics and timing.
When I make a mistake, my reaction is partly about ego, but it is mostly about letting the team down.
MacNayr says the best thing about mistakes is their potential to “galvanize you on your focus forward.”
So the next time I stumble on-air, instead of a focus on my failure, I’ll choose to focus on our group intention to inform, inspire and entertain