As Tom says, if you are human and you perform onstage, then mistakes will happen! But there are two questions every performer should be aware of:
- Are the mistakes you are making avoidable or unavoidable?
- What do you do when the unavoidable mistakes happen?
Of course, if they are avoidable, then by all means – avoid them! Work on every aspect of your show in rehearsal, and make sure you’ve done everything you can to give the best show possible.
But those “nobody’s-fault-crazy-accidents” that are bound to happen on occasion are a different story.
A few months ago, a YouTube video went viral, and it got my attention. It shows a middle school band starting a concert with the National Anthem, and the cymbal player had one of those “moments gone bad” on stage. Take a look at what happens about 1 minute into this video:
Quick thinking by that young cymbal player! He could have run off the stage in tears; he could have made a big deal of trying to pick up the cymbal and drawn attention to himself; but he chose to take a proud, patriotic stance and salute the flag.
In Tom’s book, he shares a story about the time he kicked down an entire backdrop which fell on the drummer who was finishing a solo. Since the mistake was so obvious (and they had to put the backdrop back up), the band made it a light-hearted moment, telling the audience how hard they worked to make that trick work every time they played.
Once when my husband and I were playing a Fun Moment piano duet, the keyboard stand collapsed and the keyboard went straight down to the floor. Without skipping a beat, we both reached down, pulled the stand back up, gave the tightening screw a quick turn, and kept on playing. The audience thought it was hysterical and assumed we timed it out to work just like that. (They were just “ignorant” enough to think we might do that with a $1,000 keyboard and that it was really funny!)
So what stories do you have from your times onstage? What mistakes have happened that were completely unavoidable, and how did you handle them live?