A few weeks back, the Muze family officially tapped into the realm of live independent musician showcases and hosted its very first writers round here in Nashville. Luckily, everything went remarkably well, and you can rest assured knowing that there will be follow-up shows to come in due time. Whether it’s here in Nashville or somewhere else entirely, there’s no shortage of musical artists looking to present their original songs before a gracious crowd whenever the opportunity presents itself.
However, there’s any number of things that can go wrong when live musicians get together for an event like this. If you’ve ever played a writers round, you know how exciting and productive it can be. It’s the perfect place to demonstrate your talent and expand your musician network. That being said, there’s also a good chance you’ve encountered a complication or two at times. In this week’s piece, I want to illustrate proper ways to deal with problems during a writers round if you’re an aspiring musician.
1. You forget the words to your song
This is a simple slip of both the mind and the tongue that just about every musician experiences from time to time, but it’s frustrating and scary when it happens. All the same, there’s really no need to panic. Take a moment, compose yourself, and move on. You can either play right through it or — if you’re lighthearted and tactful about it — stop the song altogether. Chuckle, point out the obvious (you forgot the words), share a silly moment with the crowd, and pick back up where you left off. It’s really not a big deal.
2. You make an instrumental mistake
It’s much the same as forgetting your lyrics, but this is honestly a much less significant screw up. Bear in mind in both instances that the crowd has NEVER heard this song before and likely won’t even know that you messed up, and playing the wrong chord is a far more subtle misstep than forgetting the words to a song. However, the solution remains the same – stay calm, compose yourself, don’t bring too much attention to the imperfection, and continue on with the song.
3. You forget a piece of equipment
I’ve said many times in many different ways that you need to be prepared, but nobody is perfect. If you forget your mic, your tuner, a capo, or something else, odds are there’s someone close by willing to spot you. Most places have extra microphones, and I’ve watched musicians pass capos/tuners back-and-forth throughout the show without a second thought. Thankfully, musicians tend to help out other musicians.
4. You don't have enough original songs
Most writers rounds only demand that you play three or four original songs. However, if you’re not quite there yet, it’s okay to throw a cover tune in there. It can be a fun way to get everyone involved and make people remember your performance.
5. You experience technical difficulties
This one is unique because it’s out of your control. Any number of technical difficulties are liable to rear their ugly heads during a show – the PA could go on the fritz during the song you were most excited to play, the sound guy could have forgotten to unmute your guitar, you might get a wave of nasty feedback, etc. It could be something other than a technical issue as well.
For instance, maybe you were accidentally double booked and you’re not able to perform. Regardless, the solution remains the same – DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Things happen, and the best you can do is the best you can do when it comes to dealing with problems during a writers round across the board. Roll with the punches and brush it off. It’s not the end of the world.