December 10, 2016

Elite Music Academy in Toronto

That Time My Amp Exploded on Stage and How It Affected My Musical Career

Back in grade eight, I was well known in school for my piano skills. Kids would ask me to play “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis every music class. I was constantly showing off.

One day, the school music teacher asked me if I’d like to solo something cool for the year-end concert. Yes! I selected the funky Beverly Hills Cops theme song “Axel F”. I spent weeks sequencing the backing tracks on my keyboard with some spicy bass, drums, and rhythmic chords. I was going to be one hell of a one-man band!

I was about to perform in front of 500 people and I wanted to make a lasting impression. And boy did I ever!

On the day of the performance, I hauled my keyboard backstage, set it up, and looked for the school’s keyboard amp. Where was it? Couldn’t find it. I tracked down the music teacher. He couldn’t find it. As my performance drew near, I was handed a giant, stereo guitar amp as the only other alternative.

Bad mistake!

When the curtain opened, I was facing a full auditorium. With the amp turned up high, I hit “start” on the keyboard’s sequencer and began to play.


Within 10 seconds, the bass frequencies from the keyboard blew out both of the amp’s 16” woofers while letting out an ear piercing feedback loop. I froze. Someone backstage shut the power down to stop the amp from smoking.

Shock. Silence.

The audience stared at me mortified. I stared back at them with my jaw wide open. More silence. Then, someone in the front row started to clap real slowly. More people clapped slowly. Everyone clapped slowly. The entire auditorium was full of pity claps.

I came off stage in tears, but you know what? I got over it. You can’t let setbacks like that stop you from achieving your goals. Since then, I have played some incredible solo gigs and performed with fabulous bands. I continued studying music and eventually became a piano teacher. Had I let that experience stop me from ever going on stage again, I would never have lived the life of a musician. I would never have given the gift of music to hundreds of other kids, many of which have gone off to enjoy their own musical careers.

Moral of the story: don’t let performance disasters discourage you. Bad things happen to good musicians all the time. Heck, I once saw a guy’s bridge rip right off his guitar and smack him in the face! So never give up and do your best! Oh, and take it from me, never plug a keyboard into a guitar amp…

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