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Handling mistakes in music

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

Whether you're on a big festival stage, at your local open mic in Toronto, jamming with your friends or just playing on your own at home, mistakes are likely to happen and they are ok! Some mistakes may have a larger impact than others, but even the most critical don't have to ruin a performance. Odds are that if you have seen a concert then you have seen many mistakes, whether you noticed or not. Instead of being afraid of making a mistake, practice these tips to learn how to make mistakes positive musical experiences.

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Don't stop!

Many inexperienced musicians stop dead in their tracks when they make a mistake. This is actually the most common mistake and the first thing you should stop doing. Chances are the audience will not have noticed a small mistake and when you stop, you are actually drawing more attention to your mistake. Also, the rest of the band will not wait for you so try to shake it off and get back on track by the next beat!


Take breaks

Muscle memory is important while learning an instrument. If you find yourself repeating the same mistake over and over, stop and take a break. This is counter productive and you are training your muscles to remember the wrong thing! Call a friend, have a snack or a glass of water or go for a run and then come back to it. You will be delighted to see that taking a break actually helped you progress faster.


Take the mistake and create a new idea

The late, great Chet Atkins once said, “The first time I do it, it is a mistake. The second time it is my own arrangement.” Great musicians will often repeat their mistakes, effectively creating a new and interesting phrase. This doesn't always work but sometimes mistakes breed new and innovative musical ideas. If you're looking for music lessons in Toronto or online, contact GTMS and we will help you make the best of your mistakes.


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