Sunday, November 11, 2012
Nate Silver, Tina Fey, and the Art of Preparation
Of course, you do need to practice, and that's where Nate Silver comes into this. Despite his amazingly accurate predictions, his overall prediction of President Obama winning reelection handily wasn't something I found surprising. Mitt Romney never had all the polls showing him ahead of the President at any point in the weeks before the election, and the day before the election he wasn't even tied in all the battleground states. It doesn't take a genius statistician to see that a Romney win would have been very difficult. Conservatives kept saying, "Romney's ahead by 27 points among independent Swedish-speaking women", while ignoring the fact that he was 4 points behind among everyone else. True, he could have won the election, but he would have had to have won in all the places where he had been behind all along. Possible, but not very probable (and even more improbable when factoring in the electoral college system). There were very few realists among the Republicans.
The same thing is true of practicing. How you play in the practice room is how you will perform. If you play something wrong nine times in practice, but get it right once, the odds are very good that your performance will be wrong. My students could never seem to understand this. They would play something wrong over and over again, finally get it right, and think they had "fixed it". Instead they had learned it incorrectly more times than they had correctly. True, it might be possible to play it correctly in performance with that kind of practice, but it wouldn't be very probable. To perform well, you need to be a realist in the practice room: practicing correctly, working on problem spots more than the rest of the piece, and not counting on improbabilities to get you through. And then forgetting about your worries when 11:30 comes.
Posted by Michelene Orteza at 1:52 PM