Plans, Takes, and Mis-takes

  • Nathaniel Klemp Department of Politics, Princeton University
  • Ray McDermott School of Education, Stanford University
  • Jason Raley Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Matthew Thibeault School of Music, University of Illinois
  • Kimberly Powell College of Education and School of Visual Arts, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Daniel J. Levitin Department of Psychology and Schulich School of Music, McGill University
Keywords: learning, action, activity, practgice, music, jazz,


This paper analyzes what may have been a mistake by

pianist Thelonious Monk playing a jazz solo in 1958.

Even in a Monk composition designed for patterned

mayhem, a note can sound out of pattern. We reframe

the question of whether the note was a mistake and ask

instead about how Monk handles the problem. Amazingly,

he replays the note into a new pattern that resituates

its jarring effect in retrospect. The mistake, or

better, the


mis-take, was “saved” by subsequent notes.

Our analysis, supported by reflections from jazz musicians

and the philosopher John Dewey, encourages a

reformulation of plans, takes, and


mis-takes as categories

for the interpretation of contingency, surprise, and

repair in all human activities. A final section suggests

that mistakes are essential to the practical plying and

playing of knowledge into performances, particularly

those that highlight learning.

How to Cite
Klemp, N., McDermott, R., Raley, J., Thibeault, M., Powell, K., & Levitin, D. (1). Plans, Takes, and Mis-takes. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 10(1), 4-21. Retrieved from