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The fear of making mistakes and how to overcome them

The fear of making mistakes and how to overcome them

Posted in Play: October 2017

We have come to one of the greatest fears the artists have when they are in front of an audience or a jury: the fear of making mistakes. It can occur at any time, even when you are well prepared but also when you least expect it. It is important to find an appropriate attitude in such a situation. It is not easy to accept your own mistakes and to go on with a smile on your face as if nothing had happened. I can tell you from my own experience that we often tend to exaggerate our own mistakes, giving them too much importance when they occur in our performance on stage.

Sometimes we make mistakes exactly in the places where we are afraid, but it is not a rule and it does not always happen that way. Maybe it happened to you to make a mistake in a simple place where you have never done before. We all have gone through this experience because nobody can be 100% focused from beginning till the end. A mistake is not something that you need to be ashamed of, it is natural, after all. It can certainly be frustrating to do mistakes on stage, but what I want to point out, is that a mistake does not diminish the value of your performance and the level at which you are. The best thing you can do is to focus on an excellent, authentic performance, with a personal style of interpretation.

The mistakes that occur during the practice sessions

These are usually more easily accepted than those appearing on the stage, because we can correct them. To minimize them, try to practice the difficult passages by using different rhythms, tempo, or different tones. Repeat the passage separately, but also within the context. Try also to keep your focus and concentration on what you have to do.

The mistakes that may occur during performance

  • In the case of a memory slip it is important to don’t stop, but to move on to the next start-up point. Do not try to get back, because you might have again a lapse in the same place.
  • If you have to do with a minor mistake (rhythm, intonation, technique) that has occurred accidentally, the best thing you can do is to get over it as quickly as possible and focus on what you have to offer next.
  • If you have made more than two or three mistakes in different places, try to don’t show your disappointment and frustration through your body language. Accept the mistakes, but do not let yourself dominated by them. You'll have time to analyze them after the performance is over. Now, focus on the present moment, till the end.
  • If you are a soloist and jumped over a row, or forgot to repeat a section, do not try to correct anything, go ahead and those who accompany you will jump after you. Let's hope!
  • If you have taken a slower or a faster tempo, make the necessary change when, or if the context allows you. If you can not change it anymore, focus on the character of that movement and try to play it in the most appropriate style.


As you can see, no matter how well you are prepared, mistakes can occur. But it is very important to be prepared and have an appropriate reaction to overcome them or to minimize them. If we are talking about a concert, most people will not realize your mistakes, and those who will understand, certainly they will not give them such a big importance.

When we refer to a competition, an exam or an orchestra audition, things are totally different, because here you will be listened by a specialized jury. Your mistakes will be noticed and taken in consideration, but what you can do is to minimize their importance, manage to get over them as quickly as possible and not let them influence your entire performance. Focus on an authentic, convincing interpretation that reflects your personality, and the mistakes will gain secondary importance in the opinion of the jury.




14 Feb 2018 12:44

I wish I had known all this when I had to play piano class auditions and was paralyzed by fear of making mistakes. Thanks for sharing!

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