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The following article adapts and discusses concepts developed by Gerald Klickstein that are published on The Musician's Way Blog and in his book,The Musician's Way.
We've all been there. The big gig. Your band has practiced hard for this very moment. Friends, families, and loving fans pack the venue, and they absorb every note dripping from your instrument. The songs should feel like second nature at this point, but something is amiss.
An upcoming chord change is near and as you dig inside your head for the answer, you're met with darkness. The change is fast approaching and your mind scrambles around every crevice to find the solution to this anxiety. Sadly, it's just not there. Memory has failed you and, suddenly, you’re playing the wrong note. Being the good musician that you are, you rub off the memory slip and continue on. The audience is none the wiser.
Mistakes like this happen all the time, and learning how to recover from them is an essential skill as a performer – but it's even better to prevent them from happening in the first place. There are strategies out there to help improve memorization for performances. Different strategies will work for different people, but here's one four-step process to try.