What if I lose My Place in the Song – Live??

What if I lose My Place in the Song – Live??

This is a common nightmare scenario, you are playing that important gig, enjoying the experience, lost in the music …then you can’t remember the chord sequence, nevermind the outro riff! Ahhhhhhhhh! Well sorry to say, but this happens in the real world sometimes as well. This post covers a few tips to prevent this happening and a few tips on what to do if it does!

The first thing to remember is that you always notice and think your mistakes are worse than any member of your audience does. After all you know how it is supposed to sound, however they don’t. It is always good to get feedback from someone who will tell you the truth about this, but really for the most part, mistakes are forgotten or not even noticed …as long as your audience is enjoying the show.

How to Avoid Mistakes Happening

Well you know the answer to this one! Practice and rehearsal – (there is a difference between the two).

The 5 Ps: Practice Prevents Pretty Poor Performances

  • Practice: This is usually done on your own where you practice the part, until you can play it in your sleep – e.g. you might have to play some tricky parts over and over until you get them right, this is also where you learn to put all the parts together.
  • Rehearsal: This is where you play the song as if you are playing live.

The second way to avoid this scenario is to ensure that you stay focussed – one thing that can cause you to lose your place is indulging in stage moves – you know, running about, duck walking and putting your foot up on the monitor. The cure? Rehearsal – practice your performance. In general don’t drift off with the music, as I say – stay focussed.

One last thing – keep some picks taped to a handy mic stand – then if you drop your pick, you can quickly grab a new one.


What if I Have Lost My Place?

There are a couple of strategies that may help.

  1. Keep playing – try not to stop
  2. Use the universal passing chord (G6 – all open strings) to give you an extra second to think what comes next!
  3. Use ‘dead’ muted chugs – again for extra thinking time
  4. Throw some licks in – I assume you at least know what key you are in.
  5. If you do have to stop, try to make it look intentional, clapping your hands over your head for instance, as if it was a breakdown – then pick up the song ASAP

Feel free to add your own tips in the comments section.

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  1. jamesroutley

    Hi Terry. One tactic worth trying is to stare at the bass player with a heavy frown and make out that he’s played a bum note. Above all, don’t take it too seriously. It’s meant to be fun. Audiences want to see you enjoying yourself, so just keep smiling.

    • Terry Ford

      Good point James! Audiences tend not to care about the odd error if they like you and most importantly they are having fun.


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