• Matthew Lind

The Wrong Note: Music mistakes

Updated: Feb 3

Here are the 8 BIGGEST MISTAKES I see and unfortunately hear people make all too often...


1: Copying someone else's program.

The worst of the worst in my opinion. I've seen this done with music and costuming. Don't do it. Just because Nathan Chen looks great skating to something that does not mean that you will too. To make matters worse, you are already being compared to Nathan Chen and you are only 4 seconds into your program. The same garment can look very different on a different model. If the program and concept is good enough for you to want to copy it then it's highly unlikely you are going to do it any better. Keep looking! Be creative! You deserve better and can do better than that!


2: Choosing something iconic.

YES it's a fine line. YES it creates some loopholes in the whole "copying music rule" but KNOW your history. Let me explain...

  • Firebird: OK. Over the years MANY skaters have used this classic piece by Stravinsky, from John Curry to Gracie Gold to Anna Shcherbakova. It's beautiful, skatable music and I've seen in reimagined successfully many times.

  • Salome: NOT OK. Michelle Kwan's iconic 1996 long program which took her to her first national and world titles. YES, it definitely meets the criteria for beautiful, skatable music but NO, no one has any business skating to it unless their name is Michelle Kwan.

PRO TIP: If many people skated successfully to a piece of music, it's a classic. If one person used that music and knocked it out of the park, it's iconic. Classics are OK, icons are off limits.


3: Choosing the recent movie blockbuster.

Even if you're Frozen looking for an idea. You might fancy yourself to be a Queen or The Greatest Showman but you need to put that soundtrack down. I understand finding inspiration can be tough at times, but if you're finding it on a billboard in Times Square then you probably aren't finding it alone. Don't get me wrong, there's some great music in a lot of these movies and I have my own Idina Menzel playlist on my phone but skating music and your program are meant to show off why YOU are unique and special. I've been at events with 10 kids and heard the same song used three times in one event. Is it really never enough? If it's good music and it will still be good music in a few years so, put it on a shelf somewhere and Let it go.


4: Rushing to pick something.

I call it the "January Itch" but in my opinion people select music WAY too early in the year. I prefer to begin programs in February and March so that most of the winter is spent on skill development. For some skaters it is peer pressure, they see their friends getting new programs and they want to start. Some skaters watch nationals in January and just can't wait to be the first one to skate to Rocketman! (see rules 1,2&3) Make no mistake, rushing to pick music is a COSTLY error. The amount of money, effort and resources that go into creating a program is astronomical. Wait until it's right. Read my blog Hunting for Music on tips to avoid this problem.


5. Not playing the music in the rink.

This can get ugly. The way music sounds on your headphones or in the car can be very different from what you hear in the rink. The acoustics in a skating rink generally create a large echo and muffle lyrics. This is why as a rule of thumb I try to avoid opera or music with really fast lyrics. If you've ever been in a rink when someone is playing Madame Butterfly too loudly you'll know just what I mean. Hamilton is an awesome show with great music but so much of it gets lost in the reverberation. Anything you are thinking about using, play it at your rink first before everyone falls in love with it or you go through all the effort of editing.


6. The Debbie Downer.

Now, this is just my opinion, (carefully formed and educated over 25 years of living in a skating rink) DON'T SKATE TO DEPRESSING MUSIC. All too often I'll see really sullen girls getting upset and skating poorly as some dreary music plays on in the background like a 1940's war movie. Music has a major effect on people's mood. You are going to be listening to this music for hundreds, maybe thousands of times in a year, this music is going to affect you. Think about the effects of your playlist when you get pumped up at the gym. Sure I've seen some exceptions but why bother even going down that road? Pick something motivating. Life is too short...


7: Good music, wrong skater.

This is an easy trap to fall into. You hear some music and it's awesome! It has high notes and speed. It's inspiring, textured and nuanced. Unfortunately if you tried skating to it for 2 and a half minutes you'd die. The same way that wearing clothes that are too tight can make you look fatter, music that's too big can make your skating look smaller. Music that is too fast, if you can't keep up with it for an entire program, can make you look slower. Music that's emotionally powerful can make you look flat if you aren't able to commit that same level of performance into a program while executing all of your elements. Check out my blog called This is Your Song for more tips on finding the right music for you!


8: Same music as another skater at the rink/level.

I lied, this is the WORST of the worst. Beyond just being being an unforced error and in poor taste, there is so much music out there. Just don't do it. Read more HERE.

  • It creates a toxic environment for skaters and coaches

  • It creates confusion with right of way on practice sessions

  • That awful awkward moment at a competition when the same song comes on

  • Karma will find you!

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