I read an article about criticism early last week. As students of music we often have incredible opportunities to perform for and get advice from great musicians. With any luck, your studio teacher is a great musician with a list of impressive accomplishments and experience (this is not always the case). Criticism can come from anyplace. Put a video on youtube and watch how many, “u suck.” comments you receive. Masterclasses and studio classes offer other opportunities to receive criticism. Lessons every week are the first and foremost way to get advice.
How do we take that criticism? The article suggests several things:
- Consider the source
- Shut Up and listen
- Don’t take it personally
- Stay calm
- Ask Questions
- Take ownership of the mistake
- Change your perspective
- Thank the critic
While this article is not specific to music, it is very applicable. Consider who’s criticism you give weight to. Anyone can give valid advice. Evaluate the advice given, then choose where to go from there. Does it make musical sense? Does this way sound better? Are these people commenting on youtube worth worrying about ? (hint: no) These are questions to ask. Being criticized is a time to shut up, take some notes and stay calm. Understand that it’s you who’s given the performance, take ownership of your choices and ask questions about things the critic suggests.
Should we go to lessons each week terrified that we’ve screwed something up that we’ll be busted on? No. That’s no way to learn an instrument. Embrace getting advice. Make use of it. It’s not anything personal; most times the person advising only wants to encourage your improvement. Take advantage of it.
How do you deal with criticism?