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I do this every now and then: I'll be practicing a piece and encounter a passage where I know every single note, could probably write it out from memory, but keep making a silly mistake (like playing E instead of D) every single time. I'll even tell myself going in to the passage "don't forget, it's a D", but will still miss it. I was just wondering if accomplished musicians do the same thing (or, honestly, if any one else does it too...)

  • I don't know where I stand in the scale of 'accomplished' but, yes, I can certainly relate to that! – Laurence Payne Sep 23 '17 at 11:04
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    An addition to the question might be 'and how do I stop it happening?' – Tim Sep 23 '17 at 11:06
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    It might be, yes, although that is a deeper can of "how do I practice" worms that I didn't want to open. – Michael Stachowsky Sep 23 '17 at 11:11
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    I've heard professional musicians in major symphony orchestras make minor mistakes during concerts. So as far as I know, it never fully goes away. – Todd Wilcox Sep 23 '17 at 12:46
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YES, they do!

However,

These mistakes are very slight and probably only audible by other trained musicians. The general public is unlikely to hear them.

How to avoid making such mistakes:

Everyone has their own way to practise as close to perfection as possible.

I have tried many methods over the years as a pianist and I have found that memorising pieces is by far the best way for me.

Theory of scales, chords and music rules is also very important. A good Solfege knowledge will allow you to "replace" notes if you have blackouts or flubs, without people noticing.

Sight reading helps but I almost never rely on it when "performing" a piece, it's distracting and breaks my concentration. I use sight reading for more "easy pieces" as well as a skill for memorising.

Learning to memorise is very daunting at first, especially if you've never done it before. But it's sooo worth it!!!

The level of music understanding I have now has shot up. I can now play with my brain controlling and expressing everything, my fingers are merely an extension of my thoughts.

Plus, as per method described in the article below, it quickly enabled me to start improvising in a specific author's style.

All explained here:

Piano fundamentals

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    I can substantiate the value of memorization from another musical world: a capella quartet singing. Yes, it's hard to memorize a whole mass. But the kinds of mistakes nervousness brings to readers- skipping systems, not keeping in contact with the others- are eliminated. Your whole concept of the structure of a piece is improved if you memorize it. – Scott Wallace Sep 24 '17 at 10:56
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    Every once in a while a mistake by a pro is obvious. Once I saw the NSO perform Rhapsody in Blue and the (mortally embarrassed I expect) clarinetist flubbed the opening gliss. I was surprised they didn't restart. – Todd Wilcox Sep 24 '17 at 12:20
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Well, you pencil it in thickly. Before you know the stuff well enough to play it by heart anyway.

After that, it gets harder...

At any rate, any question of the "do concert musicians ..." evaluates to either "does there exist a concert musician such that" which almost by necessity is true, or to some basic statistic statement about percentages which cannot be resolved because of a lack of complete data.

So it's probably better to write as "how can I avoid ..." in order to get useful answers and put "Do others have similar problems?" into the body of the question as an aside. In that manner, you'll get anecdotal evidence that you are fishing for as a side effect and without turning the question as such into something that does not really fit on Stack Exchange.

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