What’s the worst that can happen?

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I love reading The Onion. It’s ‘news’ never ceases to amuse me however callous and inappropriate it can be at times. A recent item from their site on “Stepping Out Of Comfort Zones” is particularly relevant after my week away with over one hundred pupils at an outdoors activity centre in the Vale of Edale, Derbyshire. The Onion piece talks about the significant loss of life from stepping out of comfort zones and trying something different – indeed a “what’s the worst that can happen?” attitude. It made me think how so many of the pupils on the trip did exactly that. They took a risk, trusted a stranger’s instruction and literally took a leap of faith.

The process of risk taking interests me; some pupils did rather dangerous activities with little fuss yet others were hindered by severe nerves and fears. What mechanism exists to negotiate the decision of taking and not taking risk? I also wonder whether risk taking permeates through all potential risk situations, regardless of how severe the risk may seem. Is there a spectrum of risk? I wonder how much will change for the pupils now they’ve taken seemingly dangerous risks. Will they seek more, or retreat?

Perhaps risk taking is connected strongly with motivation. What motivates a risk taker to “have a go”? Consequences paralyse action for those that fear risk. They certainly do for me. I suppose I’m leading to consider how much taking a risk features in music making. Is performance a risk? It could go ‘wrong’ after all. How do we learn to take that risk and trust the unknowable, the unpredictable, the unexpected? That I would love to know.

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