As a teacher we often find my students trying to go back and fix every mistake they made when singing or playing a song they’ve practiced all week. They accidentally stumbled over the words, or played the wrong note. Sometimes they just completely blank. The embarrassment of making mistakes when you are in a lesson is far less than when it is the real deal. Which is why it is important to learn how to keep moving forward.
In preparation for a performance, there are often countless hours involved in making sure you are ready. Whether that be vocal exercises to strengthen the voice and widen the range, or singing a song over and over until the words are memorized. There’s no doubt that it takes a large amount of work and effort. But in the end we aren’t perfect so making mistakes is inevitable. But, doing our best to avoid those mistakes by practicing as often and as long as needed can really help minimize the chance of any colossal mistakes.
Making mistakes while practicing for a performance is inevitable. But rather than starting over and going through the song again, try to keep moving forward and pretend it never happened. If you are singing a song in another language, pay attention to the way the language sounds. Knowing what it sounds like will help you to make something up on the spot if necessary. Never ever, show it on your face. This is like telling everybody at the poker table that you’ve got a terrible hand. Nobody needs to know you made a mistake, and if you show it on your face, you’re telling everyone. Just bluff!
In a woman’s senior vocal recital in college, she had to sing a number of pieces in a foreign language. She chose one in Spanish, two in Italian, and one in Hebrew. she practiced those pieces until she knew them backward, but in the end, she forgot the words to one of the Italian songs. Her mind blanked, and She panicked. She was performing not only for an audience but for a grade, so she had to think quickly. She said something that vaguely resembled something Italian and took it in stride. Only she and her vocal instructor ever
knew it had happened. This young woman’s’ ability to think on her feet became an invaluable tool in covering her mistakes. Quickly realizing your mistake and moving past is key to being a successful musician.
In the end, mistakes happen, and things don’t always go as planned. But, if we do our part to make sure we are prepared for whatever gets thrown at us, we can walk away from any performance with our head held high. Next time you make a mistake, convince your audience you meant to do it.
If you would like to further your abilities as a vocalist, and are looking for opportunities to showcase your talents, contact the American Opera Studio for further information.