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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Sandy Andina How to handle criticism? (134* d) RE: How to handle criticism? 10 Jun 07

I first consider the source and then the context. If it comes from someone I respect (and whose opinion I've solicited), I listen--and ask myself if the criticism in question is similar to what I've heard from others. If so (or it mirrors something I might even have suspected) I look to whether it involves an area I know I can improve. The first time anyone ever criticized my voice, I wouldn't set foot on a stage for two weeks afterward, and it took a friend to call me up, give me a pep talk and literally drag me back to an open mic. That was 25 years ago. Next time, it was a record reviewer who astutely observed that what I'd recorded did not match the way he'd seen me perform--and suggested that I never again record on anyone's timetable but my own. I am indebted to him for that advice. Another reviewer was scathing--but it was my fault for not vetting the publication in question; had I done so I'd have realized the genre, renown and commercial success of their typical reviewed artist and never have submitted my work for review. Nonetheless, I then wrote a proudly assertive song (that *I* knew was a cathartic "F-you" but doesn't come off that way--have yet to record it). And FIVE years after I submitted to another publication, it gave me a lukewarm review--and when I contacted the reviewer (who'd apologized for his backlog), he was flabbergasted when I agreed with most of his assessment, since I have grown exponentially as both a performer and writer since then (whether I have acquired greater humility is another question entirely).

When criticism comes at a song circle, I also listen to who's doing the criticizing, who else he's criticizing, and whether he's slamming everyone else for the same thing. But I have learned never to be "married" to a song, not even after I've recorded and released it--a song is a work I have created, not my child I have borne; and if there is a way I can tweak it and make it more effective (shorter, different choice of word, melodic or chord change), I am all ears. More often than not, truly constructive criticism has turned a good song into a great one: and I've seen it in audience reactions before and after the change. There will also always be people who feel compelled to critique simply to demonstrate they are paying attention; there will be others (usually contrarians) who feel that bucking a trend or dissing something popular marks them as people of superior discernment. Bleep them and the cockroaches they rode in on. The trick is to develop the experience to tell the difference between those who want to help and those who want to build themselves up by tearing down others.

I have grown thicker skin even as I have grown thicker calluses on my picking fingers....but I still remain open to ways I can improve.

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