View Full Version : Embarrasing moments.

01-29-2018, 04:18 AM
My friend did an open mic this weekend and bombed. She plays guitar. She had been doing so well. Anyway, I wasn't there and I don't know what happened, but she is paralyzed now. So the story took me back to a few months ago when I decided to play a song at an open mic that I had recently heard and that I thought was cute. I'm sure that there are a few here who might have been witness to it, and anyone who has a video please DO NOT SHARE IT. It is not something I wish to relive. I wasn't real familiar with the song and I had it on my kindle, but I forgot to take my reading glasses out of my pocket and put them on, so I decided, no big deal, I'll wing it. Well, it went down hill from there and I never did make it clear through the song. Then I fell on the floor, kicked my feet, and cried. No, I didn't do that last part. Thanks to the audience's kindness, I was allowed another song that I was a bit more familiar with, and at least redeemed myself to some extent. I have no doubt for some in the audience my performance was viewed as an example of why they themselves are never going to go up on stage. I apologize if that is the case. No one should ever use me as an example, good or bad.

Anyway, I have told my friend that I saw Stevie Nicks forget the lyrics to a song on stage at a concert in front of ten thousand fans, and she is none the worse for wear because of it, but that does not seem to help. Perhaps a few more stories of people who have crashed and burned, and lived to tell about it would be good for her to hear, and perhaps even therapeutic for the teller. Thanks.

01-29-2018, 05:30 AM
positive visualisation

and just getting back on the horse

01-29-2018, 05:32 AM
A year ago I went to a party with my ukulele. It was a music themed party and I thought we would just jam on a few songs together. That did happen but the other thing was you drew a number when you entered the door and that was your turn to preform for everyone. I really did not have anything prepared. There was one song I thought I could about halfway do so I went with it. I was standing up and I put my sheet music on a stand provided. It was too short and I could not read the words or see the chords, I really didn’t know the melody that well. It was a hot mess. I stopped in the first verse. I recovered somewhat by putting the music on a taller stand, strumming chords and just speaking the words except for a line or two. It helped that the song was a funny one and had a punchline which I managed to pull off and everyone laughed. I think it was at the joke and not at me. I was embarrassed but I survived. I always try to have at least one song down cold now in case I need to perform again with out notice.
Everyone is going to mess up sometime. The trick is to get back up and try again.

Graham Greenbag
01-29-2018, 05:32 AM
I know a few people who play to the public in some setting or other, mostly they have been doing it for years and their performance goes ok. However I watched one group of players (not on Ukes) who collectively got muddled up with a piece of music to the point that virtually all the group stopped playing leaving the Conductor waving his stick and no sound being generated. He, very professionally, tapped the side of his stand to stop the remaining players and then announced to the group where he was going to restart the piece from. The group started together, played the piece well and ended together; everyone kept their cool and the audience didn’t mind one bit. At the end of the day most audiences come to be entertained and enjoy a bit of live music, mostly they understand that ‘stuff happens’ and just want you to get over it and then entertain them some more. Well that’s my experience.

To do an open mike or solo of some form takes some nerve and your friend should be commended for having a go. Anyone who does anything will have the occasional failure, I try to treat mine as opportunities to learn and suggest that your friend is encouraged to see it that way too.

01-29-2018, 05:38 AM
I'm not much a singer, but I can usually at least stay in key and in tune. I participate in a monthly song circle where we go around the circle and take turns calling songs; the circle is big enough that you usually get two turns, and the musicians range from pros to energetic amateurs.

I wanted to do The Beatles' "She's a Woman," but the original key is way to high for me. So I transposed it down a couple of steps, practiced a few times at home to make sure I could hit all the notes, and brought it to the circle. When we started playing, for some reason I simply could not find the key. I started singing too low, then too high, then somewhere in the mddle. Here I am, singing at the top of my lungs, and nowhere near the key. I was laughing pretty hard by the end of it because it was obviously such a train wreck, but I soldiered on until the end of the song. A nice gentleman sitting next to me leaned over and said "Don't feel too bad, I couldn't find the key, either."

As the saying goes, the only people who never make mistake are those who never do anything.

Joe King
01-29-2018, 06:26 AM
Even long-time pro musicians bomb once in a while. Rlink, please tell your friend that she should not feel so bad.

For example, back around 1995 or so, I had a chance to see Bob Dylan and Joan Baez perform at Waterloo Village in NJ. It was an outdoor summer concert, with maybe 150-200 seats.

My girlfriend at the time and I had seats in the 3rd row, and it was a tiny stage, maybe 50 ft wide, so you can imagine we had a good view.

Dylan was only supported by a bass player. His rambling style of singing went on as usual, until about the 3rd song...

I dont know if he was drunk (or other) or just lost mental focus, but after about 4 bars into the song, he stopped singing, and seemed to have trouble with the chords, and then stopped playing all-together, and then was sort of mumbling in a pig-latin type of gibberish for a good 30 seconds, while looking very confused.

After about 2 minutes of uncomfortable silence, while he looked at his feet, he then wiped his face from eyebrows to chin with his hand, and then started playing and singing again as if nothing had ever happened.

Later, when mingling with the crowd in the refreshments area, more folks were gossiping about his seemingly odd behavior than anything else. Some folks thought it was a gimmick and said he does this often, and there was talk of Alzheimer's or dementia or some other mental issue.

It was odd for sure to see a music legend go through this on stage.

Moral of the story and what I learned that day, was that anybody can fumble, and it's what you do after to pick yourself up that shows if you are good at live performance. Dylan did pick himself up, and played for about 90 mins straight without any hesitation after. I thought it was a nice show.

A phrase maybe useful to remember from a song taken from 'The Flinstones' cartoons:

"Winners never quit, and quitters never win."

01-29-2018, 06:58 AM
So in my own case, I knew what I did wrong the second I walked off. Frankly, afterwards I did not view it so much as a failure. It was more of a reality check. In other words, I probably needed to get knocked down a peg or two at the time. It was good for me. I'm afraid that my friend is new to the experience though.

Jim Yates
01-29-2018, 11:24 AM
The one that sticks out in my mind is from a radiothon about 35 years ago. I was playing in a bluegrass group and we had just finished a tune in Bb. Ted, the banjo player had his capo on the third fret. We were to switch instruments for the next song, I Saw The Light, so Ted took off the capo and handed me the banjo and I handed him the guitar. Unfortunately, he had the 5th string still capoed up to Bb. Even more unfortunately, I didn't notice and I kicked the song off. Of course I knew right away that something was wrong, but I wasn't sure what. By the time my banjo break rolled around, I'd figured it out, but too late to fix the out of tune, sour sounding intro. I still have a cassette of that performance around someplace.

If that were to happen today, I'd stop and make a joke before starting again. A standard line these days is, "Let us know if we start gettin' too slick and professional for you, Folks."

Vic Arpeggio
01-29-2018, 12:27 PM
Someone once advised me that the falling down part was not as significant as the part about getting up again.

01-29-2018, 02:38 PM
Not uke related, but speech related...I was to give a speech on some environmental topic to a seminar. I didn't worry too much about it, because I was quite busy with work and didn't even begin to really prepare until the the night before the speech. I get to the location and it is a large hall, not a seminar room and there were several hundred people milling about...not the 50 people in my imagination. I get up there and my notes suddenly seem inadequate and the mike is odd...and in the middle of the speech, I suddenly find myself at a completely loss for a very important word...for like, I don't really know...30 seconds! Really called attention to myself, I gotta say. It took me a while to get over it, but I did. My take away for that experience was to not let busyness get in the way of at least a modicum of preparation and better yet, that audience deserved a better prepared speech than I gave. I learned.

01-29-2018, 04:16 PM
Similar to Graham's story above, I was playing in a university orchestra concert once and on the second movement of a piece we started to play and a couple people missed their cues so rather than let things fall apart more, our conductor stopped us. Regrouped and made sure we were all ready again, then just restarted a second time. For personal, solo performances one of my worst was singing (luckily not in front of many students, but in front of one very well respected vocal professor) and in the middle of a song I mixed up two verses and when I realized a few words in I swore, and then put my hand over my mouth and froze for a moment. My accompanist kept playing so I had no choice but to pick back up and finish the song.

Oh, and another time I was part of a group performance that involved synchronized movements along with musical performance. We were doing a special performance for the Governor General of Canada (The Queen's representative in Canada and also technically our commander-in-chief.) At one point in the performance the group forms a large circle and freezes for a drum solo. Then, after a particular set of cues we all do a couple of quick, sharp in sync movements. I was directly across from the Governor General and guess who moved a few beats early. . . . Yup. I was mortified. But I still had to finish the second half of the performance. I couldn't just leave or stop so I had no choice but to refocus and think about the next steps etc. Life goes on and I guarantee I never made the exact mistake again. . . . (though I made other ones. Nobody's perfect. . . )

Finally, my favourite recording of Mack the Knife is the Ella Fitzgerald live recording of a performance in Berlin. Mack the Knife was apparently a fairly new release in the US at the time, and she decides to try to sing it and about half to 2/3rds of the way through she totally forgets the lyrics. She improvises and scats a few versus and it's amazing. It was released in like 1960 I think, and if memory serves correctly, I think she even won an award for it. You can find it on youtube. :)

01-29-2018, 04:45 PM
I was playing in a concert one time where half the strings section of the orchestra's faces were turned to various hues of red to purple, with tears even streaming down some faces, from our efforts to stifle laughter. We were in the midst of playing a piece with multiple singers who were standing in a row in front of us. Let's just say that there quite abruptly appeared on the floor behind one of them a stinky brown puddle. This explosion had detonated right in front of the cello section, and one of the cellists reacted visibly - wide-eyed, shocked and mortified, and of course nearby musicians strained to see what the cause of this reaction was. Then, from one person giving sidelong, mirthful and lip-biting glances to the next, it became rapidly infectious, as a huge and heroic effort was underway to keep from laughing out loud. The conductor was most definitely not a happy camper! We managed to keep on playing (luckily no wind players got "wind" of it), and the poor soloist managed to soldier on to the end - an object of our sympathetic pity, of course, under the circumstances, but still, at the same time, there was something really uproariously hilarious about it.


01-29-2018, 11:25 PM
I think all performers have had times when things went wrong, sometimes badly wrong ...

I was at the Wigmore Hall in London once and a young pianist forgot what he was playing. He totally dried up, and just said "I'm sorry I've forgotten it". Credit to him, he took a moment, a deep breath, started again and got through it. Most audiences are rooting for you.

As said previously, its important to do your part and make sure you are well rehearsed. If the brain shuts down, sometimes the fingers can just keep going but only if you have practised enough for them to know what they should do ...

01-30-2018, 03:23 AM
I taught music for 34 years in public schools. One year I was leading a group of first and second graders in a choral concert. I play keyboard fairly well but play primarily by ear. I wasn't trained as a pianist and had maybe 3 lessons. I sat down at the piano to start a selection and played the wrong song. I made a quick apology to the audience and made a crack about a senior moment.
One other time I was playing auxiliary keyboard and trumpet at a city wide talented chorus concert. One of the selections was the Mariah Carey piece Hero, it was followed by Club Nouveau's version of Lean On Me. At the dress rehearsal the director asked me to add strings to Hero. The music he gave me was in a different key so I hit the transpose button and everything went well.
I was using a clavinet sound for Lean On Me and it was an exposed part. I forgot to reset the key. The bass player was in C and I was playing my funky Clavinet part in D! This happened at the performance and was also being recorded for cable access tv. For future performances I always wrote myself a little note reminding me to play my part in the correct key.

01-31-2018, 08:32 AM
I wish I believed in my playing ability and or singing to attempt a public concert.

01-31-2018, 08:51 AM
Over a year ago, I was playing at a Memorial Service for the husband of a friend.
I had worked out "White Sandy Beach" and memorized it, even fingerpicking it.
I nailed it.
Then I tried my fave, "Imagine". Suddenly I choked up, teared up, and forgot every damn chord and verse.
Someone in the room came up and consoled me and finished the song.
I survived. And my friend and I stayed friends.
I never, ever perform without eyeglasses. Even if I play/sing from memory. And I always adjust the music stand, so what if people wait 30 more seconds?

01-31-2018, 10:22 AM
I was taking improv classes at The Second City. A classmate sidled up to me during break saying he was worried about another classmate, let's call him Carl, who was all of 18 years old and had just attempted his first standup gig. It was a disaster and the kid was really bent out of shape. Did I think our instructor -- a Legend in the field -- could talk him down? I said it never hurts to ask.

So we got the kid to the local watering hole after class, sat him down at a table with the Legend, and the classmate declares, "Carl here did his first standup gig last Saturday night!"

The Legend, never one to miss a cue, whirled around on Carl, pulled his chair up close, and yelled in a joyfully excited voice the whole place could hear:

"Did you BOMB!?" Everybody bombs! How bad was it!?"

And he got Carl talking about the disaster. They shared horror stories. I was amazed. It was like watching a surgeon cure cancer. Carl was OK and we all got a lesson that night.

Never be ashamed of bombing. It's a natural part of the process. Now you have a story to tell and a hard-knocks experience you can build on.

01-31-2018, 10:42 AM
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, "what does not kill me makes me stronger."

01-31-2018, 11:56 AM
I screw up every time I gig. It's kid of a feature with my band. The screw-ups are part of the act (although they're genuine, not staged). I often challenge the audience to spot the "deliberate" mistakes and to point them out by yelling "w*nker" at me when I mess up.

Any time I'm particularly bad I pass out free earplugs. (If you're in the UK you can buy a bagful of the orange ones at Poundland for a quid.)