Monday, March 16, 2015

What if I forget the words?

We promise, the show will go on--and you’ll live to tell about it

No matter how much you prepare for your moment in the spotlight, anything can happen on stage! This unpredictability makes performing lots of fun, but it can also be scary. However, if you prepare for your performance the right way, you can even forget the words to the song you’re singing and still deliver a top-notch performance. Professional musicians and North Main Music instructors, Lizz Potter and Sibvon Rose, have experienced their share of performance blunders and lived to tell about it. In this article they share some of their experiences and offer advice to musicians who may be worried about making mistakes while performing live.

Tell us about a past performance during which you made a major blunder.

Lizz: I recently had a gig in Boston. It was a 3-hour solo set and it went well overall, but as I was both singing and playing piano, I was trying to read lyrics and chords at the same time, so I screwed up both a couple of times and panicked. However, I recovered as quickly as I could and as strongly as I could.

Sibvon: I can’t recall a specific performance with a major blunder, but I will say that I’ve learned from past mistakes that you have to learn to cover them really well—don’t let the mistake show on your face and in your body language. The audience won’t have a clue that you’ve screwed up unless you show it in your facial expressions and body language.

How do you recover from mistakes during a performance?

Lizz: Finish strong—people won’t remember a flub in the middle of a song if the rest of the performance is solid.

Sibvon: I always tell students to “own the mistake.” In other words, if you do a part wrong, one great way to cover it up is to purposely mess it up again. It’s a way to stay in control of your performance.

What advice would you offer to budding musicians who may be scared about making mistakes when performing live?

Lizz: Even if you’ve practiced a song 1000 times, mistakes can still happen, and that’s ok. Throughout my career, I’ve found that using breathing exercises as a method of relaxation is very helpful and important. Breathing helps me to be less in my head and more in the song. And, remember, have fun with your performance no matter what happens.

Sibvon: Audition for everything you possibly can. The more your audition, the less scary performing live will be. And use that nervous energy to your advantage; harness it and use it to take your performance to the next level.

Lizz and Sibvon teach piano and voice at North Main Music and both have been studying and performing music since childhood. To learn more about their musical backgrounds and teaching philosophies, click here for Lizz and here for Sibvon.

The above article was inspired by and partly adapted from this article on