Ask Abbie; What Do You Do When You Make A Mistake Playing Live?
As someone who has done a lot of recording, some of the best moments of my recording sessions were created from mistakes. During the days of $250.00 an hour recording sessions and live recordings, many small mistakes remained on the albums of many famous and popular albums. Some mistakes work, and in most cases are not very noticeable.
However, not all performances are equal. Many of the classically trained musicians I’ve worked with were NEVER allowed to improvise. Classical competition is about precise reproduction and interpretation only. Big mistakes could cost you a competition.
I’m a musical illiterate who plays seven instruments and can’t read a note! Therefore, I am self-taught and learned early how to improvise on the spot, thus accustomed to making (Sometimes Huge) mistakes. If you’re in a band, or on a team with a classically trained musician, you can usually expect them to be very meticulous. Personally speaking, I want reproduction, not necessarily a note for note interpretation.
If you perform live, mistakes will happen. The biggest trick is to never panic. Most times the audience or congregation will never know an error occurred.
Whenever I, or someone in my team obviously screw up (usually Me), I’ve learned to smile and move on. Getting upset on stage is worse than making musical mistakes. As someone performing front and center, your attitude will reflect your success to translate your music. Music is about entertainment and the translation of emotion. If you’re having fun, your audience will follow. Look at some of the great performers of our era… Bob Dillon, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson. These guys are not known for great musicianship. They play simple chords structures, and have a blast on stage, mistakes and all. So when mistakes arise, let it go, and Rock God’s House with a smile!