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Criticism at singarounds

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GUEST,Craigie Hill 22 Oct 13 - 07:02 PM
Jack Campin 22 Oct 13 - 07:09 PM
Leadfingers 22 Oct 13 - 07:17 PM
Steve Shaw 22 Oct 13 - 07:20 PM
Leadfingers 22 Oct 13 - 07:24 PM
Steve Shaw 22 Oct 13 - 07:25 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Oct 13 - 07:44 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Oct 13 - 08:08 PM
Amos 22 Oct 13 - 10:23 PM
GUEST,Grishka 23 Oct 13 - 03:11 AM
Keith A of Hertford 23 Oct 13 - 03:22 AM
Hesk 23 Oct 13 - 03:26 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Oct 13 - 03:38 AM
Will Fly 23 Oct 13 - 04:07 AM
GUEST,FloraG 23 Oct 13 - 04:27 AM
GUEST,Craigie Hill 23 Oct 13 - 05:07 AM
BobKnight 23 Oct 13 - 05:22 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 23 Oct 13 - 05:28 AM
cooperman 23 Oct 13 - 05:32 AM
GUEST,Craigie Hill 23 Oct 13 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,johnmc 23 Oct 13 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 23 Oct 13 - 06:20 AM
Rob Naylor 23 Oct 13 - 07:35 AM
johncharles 23 Oct 13 - 09:03 AM
Will Fly 23 Oct 13 - 09:14 AM
GUEST,Gavin Atkin 23 Oct 13 - 09:14 AM
Will Fly 23 Oct 13 - 09:15 AM
Girl Friday 23 Oct 13 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,Craigie Hill 23 Oct 13 - 09:32 AM
Stringsinger 23 Oct 13 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,Gavin Atkin 23 Oct 13 - 09:45 AM
GUEST 23 Oct 13 - 09:55 AM
GUEST,Grishka 23 Oct 13 - 10:09 AM
cooperman 23 Oct 13 - 10:10 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Oct 13 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,Ed 23 Oct 13 - 10:20 AM
GUEST,Craigie Hill 23 Oct 13 - 10:30 AM
GUEST,Ed 23 Oct 13 - 10:39 AM
Vic Smith 23 Oct 13 - 10:50 AM
GUEST,Gavin Atkin 23 Oct 13 - 11:05 AM
GUEST,Craigie Hill 23 Oct 13 - 11:11 AM
kendall 23 Oct 13 - 11:17 AM
Larry The Radio Guy 23 Oct 13 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,Gavin Atkin 23 Oct 13 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,theticklemister 23 Oct 13 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,Craigie Hill 23 Oct 13 - 12:11 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Oct 13 - 12:22 PM
The Sandman 23 Oct 13 - 12:23 PM
Rob Naylor 23 Oct 13 - 12:32 PM
GUEST,Craigie Hill 23 Oct 13 - 12:40 PM
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Subject: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Craigie Hill
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 07:02 PM

A question about protocol and politeness.

Among regulars at a singaround, what do you think are the appropriate circumstances for telling another singer, in a helpful spirit, that his or her singing was flat/wandered off key/gave out on the high notes/etc?

I think my own answer would be that you shouldn't do this at all, unless the singer has started the conversation by being critical of his or her own performance - and even then you should tread carefully unless you know the person very well. I guess I don't think technical perfection at a singaround is important enough to outweigh the nasty surprises & hurt feelings that this could involve.

But is that over-protective? Might some singers benefit from being told they'd been screwing up without realising it? Has unsolicited criticism got a part to play in maintaining singaround standards?


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 07:09 PM

I suspect nearly all singers who screw up like that either (a) know they've done it, in which case it's up to them how to do better, or (b) have no idea, never will have any idea, and will never attempt to improve.

If somebody screws up and asks how they might have avoided it, then you have something to talk about. But it doesn't happen often.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 07:17 PM

Ooops ! Singar


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 07:20 PM

Well I'm a player, not a singer, but summat here applies. I didn't play in front of anyone until I was 42 (a couple of decades ago at least - don't ask...) It took a lot of balls at that age to do it at all, and I realise now, buttocks clenched, how bloody useless I was then. But I'm here now and I'm, er, welcomed wherever I show up to play these days - and no-one actually told me how crap I was all those years ago. Instead, I received a lot of encouragement. Whether that was because those who encouraged me saw that I had something going for me, I'll never know. Watch this person with patience for a little while and provide a modicum of encouragement and good advice (don't get too effusive, mind...). After a few sessions you'll find out one way or the other how they are probably going to develop/not. But do note Jack's dose of realism.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 07:24 PM

My Netbook is playing silly buggers !!
What I was trying to say is that Singarounds are for practice , and criticism should be VERY carefully administered unless requested and even then , NOT Publicly


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 07:25 PM

And the bloke who encouraged me the most was the Boscastle Busker, John Maughan, who ran the Tree Inn Folk Club in Bude and got all the best artists in the nation down to that little back room. How could I not mention him!


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 07:44 PM

well this is the trouble with English folk music....

perhaps the singer was duplicating the cracked tones of a weathered shantyman in a high wind rounding the Cape, the anguish of a displaced 18th century farmer who had suffered grievously in the land enclosures, perhaps he was trying to do a Peter Bellamy perhaps he was singing a modal progression - known only to martin Carthy.......perhaps he was just crap, you're never really sure.

Best thing is to keep schtum. Perhaps they're singing real folk music and you're not (and Jim Carrol isn't there to clarify the position)....its all a bit of a bugger.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 08:08 PM

Remember at all times....you're English and you don't want to look silly!


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Amos
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 10:23 PM

My experience is that any performer is probably far more critical of his/her own performance than any listener would be!


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 03:11 AM

Big Al Whittle,
Remember at all times....you're English and you don't want to look silly!
Interesting remark, but not quite clear to me in the context; would you please elaborate? We may learn something for Mudcat as well, where not all Englishmen seem to be afraid of looking silly.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 03:22 AM

Off topic, but a funny thing happened at our session last Thursday.
A bloke with a guitar and a lady in tow came in and looked around.
He angrily said "too crowded" and started to leave.
We all encouraged him to stay and made room, but he snapped, "I came to play not listen" and went.

Apparently he had been at the previous meeting and done two tunes.
"Adequate" someone said.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Hesk
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 03:26 AM

Do the simple comfort break test over several sessions:-
One visit, whilst you are singing, is OK.
The next time it happens, a bit of a coincidence, the third looking dodgy.
Every time and they are definitely criticizing your performance!!


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 03:38 AM

"My experience is that any performer is probably far more critical of his/her own performance than any listener would be!"
Would that were the case.
Depends on whether it is a regular occurrence or not.
I've been involved in fierce and often hurtful arguments on this forum about applying standards to sessions that are open to the public and have been told quite firmly that to do so is "elitist"
Everybody can have an off night, but if someone incapable of relating one note to the other, turns up week after week, what do you do?
I've know in to happen with someone who turned up week after week expecting to sing and proving she couldn't each time she opened her mouth.
She declined all offers of help and when in the end, we were forced to stop asking the particular her (difficult to do if you take it in turns around the circle) she walked out in a huff and we received a stroppy letter a couple of weeks later from her partner.
Recently we had a thread entitled "where did we go wrong?" or similar.
Among the 'Joiners in' and 'anything from Mozart to Mantovani' approach to running a club, I would put declining standards somewhere near the top.
I really think the club scene has been going long enough to have outgrown the old "near enough for folk-song" chestnut.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 04:07 AM

My experience is that any performer is probably far more critical of his/her own performance than any listener would be!

Would that were so - depends on both performer and listeners. Some performers are very self-aware, others not at all. The question is whether it's appropriate at a singaround to criticise/encourage/comment adversely on another performer.

My monthly session/singaround is very free and easy and informal, and everyone who comes along is encouraged to do whatever they want - and I should stress here that it is not a folk song singaround but an acoustic music evening. Big difference. Generally, I and those participating would never criticise anyone's performance, What does happen is that, in the chat between turns, we quite often discuss a chord sequence or a version of a song and bring up other options. And I should add, without trying to sound clever, that some people come along because they want me and others to give them a bit of help and encouragement in performing.

I've only once put my foot down and stopped someone singing - which was when a lad pulled out his iPhone to look up the words of a song he obviously didn't know at all and started singing them to no known or discernable tune. I told him quite plainly that it wasn't on to do that, and some attempt should be made to come armed with words and/or tune in future. He never came again - no loss. Sounds horrid? Well, the rest of the session fully agreed with me.

Apart from that, the purpose of my session is not to advance the cause of any particular music, but to bring people together for a live evening of music making and companionship, to which end it's been going for about 5 years.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 04:27 AM

We need to remember that often the audience is the rest of the pub - its regulars who may feel we have highjacked their space. ( + bar staff ).
With a singing morris side ( one that gets invited back each year more because of the pub entertainment rather than the dancing ) then you can not afford too many singers who are average at best or those tunes/songs in non melodeon keys that others find difficult to join in with. Nor do you want wall to wall melodeon tunes in those minor keys.
Jolly tunes, songs that non folk people know with join in bits for other singers and musicians, and funny songs seem to work best. Follow an average performance with a better one if possible. Make sure the last 15 minutes is guarenteed good - even if it means going out of order on a sing around.
Then you get invited back.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Craigie Hill
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 05:07 AM

Interesting thread! I agree with Jack, Leadfingers & particularly Steve. Someone once said to me after a song "Your singing's really improved!". She was quite embarrassed when she realised how backhanded it sounded, but I took it as a compliment. (Apart from anything else, I knew she was right - my singing had improved.)

I didn't mention it in the OP, but what sparked this off was getting some unsolicited criticism. It was sympathetically phrased - "nice song, shame about the bum notes", kind of thing - but I hadn't mentioned any bum notes; in fact I hadn't realised there were any bum notes.

It knocked my confidence quite hard. Going back to Jack's comment, I always thought I was in group 1 - I do practice & listen to myself & try to improve. Having mistakes pointed out where I didn't think I'd made any mistakes made me wonder if I'd been in group 2 all along - maybe my pitching had been off the whole time, and I never realised it because my ear was off. Maybe the people who'd applauded me at singarounds were just being polite, maybe they were thinking "shame about the pitching but well done to remember all those words"...

When I'd calmed down a bit (some hours later) I ran through the song again, more self-critically - and OK, maybe the pitching on those particular notes wasn't dead-centre perfect. So maybe the other person was right to comment & I'm just a little too sensitive.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: BobKnight
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 05:22 AM

Sorry, I don't believe that singarounds are for practice - you should do your practice at home, and not inflict half learned songs/tunes on an unsuspecting audience. Apart from being painful to the listener it's sheer bad manners to the rest of the participants.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 05:28 AM

There is an infuriating group of singaround participants who can't be bothered to learn the words of their songs and have them written down in a notebook. Every week they mumble their way through interminable ditties with noses pressed in their notebooks. In my opinion these people SHOULD be subject to criticism - but, as a warm up exercise, they should first be taken round the back of the pub and duffed over!


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: cooperman
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 05:32 AM

I only pass comment if I'm asked and then it's important to be positive. I would say something along the lines of 'if I were you, I would work on so and so'. People who ask are often just starting to play or sing in public and they are very sensitive to criticism. It's easy to put them off and you never see them again. That's a pity if they may have developed into a good live performer.
People who are consistently bad should get the vibe from the room but most can improve. Maybe encourage them to try a different song or easier tune.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Craigie Hill
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 05:45 AM

"People who ask are often just starting to play or sing in public"

OTOH, I didn't ask & I've been doing it for ten years - which may be why it was so bruising; it made me wonder if I'd been doing it wrong all that time.

As far as the vibe in the room goes, the reaction to the song when I sang it was very good - not just a polite ripple ("thankyou for that applau") by any means. So I think the song overall must have gone over OK... unless they were all making allowances...


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,johnmc
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 06:10 AM

An interesting aspect of all this is the issue of praising someone. Whenever I hear someone do something really good on my instrument of choice, I want to express my appreciation. However, it invariably takes the form of "great song " or "that is a nice instrument you've got" - never " Where did you learn to play that well ?"
This, I fear, is due to a competitive spirit that sometimes we can't suppress.
Curiously, one of the most talented natural musicians, Robin Williamson , has promoted the idea that everyone should be involved in music making, without necessarily having
spent years trying to get "good".


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 06:20 AM

" ...Robin Williamson , has promoted the idea that everyone should be involved in music making, without necessarily having
spent years trying to get "good"."



Well then, Robin Williamson probably hasn't spent years in singarounds listening to lazy, crap singers who will never improve!


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 07:35 AM

I know that my performances are often crap at singarounds and open mics.

They're better now at open mics than at singarounds as I've finally got used to having the mic there (I found it a huge distraction for months) and I go to open mics more often than acoustic singarounds.

My biggest problem is nerves...I can do a very acceptable (to my ears) performance at home, or in my office after work hours, but as soon as I have an actual audience it often turns to total crap (also to my ears). Week before last in Axminster I sat there in the "main body" just playing through "Jigsaw Puzzle Blues" while they were changing over on the mic and played note-perfect, with feeling and "tone". When I was actually on, 2 sets later, I was absolutely useless....hit bum notes all over the place and sounded terrible.

I do get decent criticism from Elijah (who runs the session), because I ask for it. He's helped my mic technique no end, and also given me other good pointers. I think in general that I try things in public before I have them "down pat" enough that I can perform them totally on auto-pilot, and I also have a tendency to try things that are too hard for whatever my current level of competence is.

I enjoy the Ditchling Bull sessions that Will also attends....but I'm very conscious of being probably the weakest there musically and really go more to "watch and learn" and "listen and enjoy" in the hope that one day I'll improve enough not to feel a total fraud when sitting in the circle. I *hope* that I'm gradually improving but I don't really know whether I'm progressing sufficiently well or whether I should just accept that playing in public isn't really for me.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: johncharles
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 09:03 AM

I have seen some of the participants in this thread; Will Fly, and Al Whittle on youtube. They are clearly skilled performers and I would trust their judgement.
However, I have no knowledge about the abilities of some of the more critical commentators on this thread. Having seen people, who themselves are unable to hold a tune be critical of other performers, I am wary of self-appointed critics.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 09:14 AM

Rob - time for another "watch and learn" session this coming Sunday... :-) We'll be with you!

Thanks for the kind words, John. I rarely offer advice to performers at sessions unless I'm asked for it. My fingers (or tongue, if you will) were burned some years ago when, in a floor spot at a folk club, a chap played "Buck Dancer's Dream" in a fairly hit and miss way. Chatting to him in the interval I said, casually, "That version of "Nuck Dancer's Dream is coming along nicely - you'll soon get it."

To which he replied, in a rather frosty voice, "It's fine right now." I could have sunk through the floor... Just shows how the foot will creep inexorably into the mouth if it's wide enough.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Gavin Atkin
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 09:14 AM

I think if someone is going to all the effort of running a singaround, session or club, they're entitled to have a view about what kind of thing is acceptable, and what isn't, and to make it known if they feel it has become necessary.

In my view, using a music stand to help you sing a song you haven't bothered to learn is really only ok if it's an occasional one-off... But for us at the Frittenden sessions (http://singdanceandplay.net) it happens so rarely, I've never needed to mention it.

I do at time feel that I'd like to try to help someone get over problems with their intonation, delivery or some other thing - often they're caused by little things the person perhas just doesn't realise about. But I rarely feel quite brave enough to do it - yet I'm sure it was something organisers did back in the days when the folk scene was great. How was it done, and how did people take it? And what would work now? Any ideas?

Gavin


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 09:15 AM

And, of course, "Nuck" = "Buck".

That's me typing in a fairly hit and miss way!


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Girl Friday
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 09:20 AM

One of the regulars at our Monday session is fond of telling people they are flat, out of time etc. It does not go down well. Singarounds are for enjoyment , and if there is an appreciative audience as well - then that's a bonus .


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Craigie Hill
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 09:32 AM

My own critic wasn't an organiser, just a fellow singer.

Turning it round: how would you feel? You've learnt a song, worked on it, practised it, worked out where to pitch it, thought about which bits to ornament or not, where to speed it up or slow it down, etc, etc. You take it to a singaround where you sing it just as well as you did at home, and it goes down well. You feel pretty good about it. Then the (unsolicited) helpful comment - "lovely song, such a shame you messed up that bit..." How would you react?

My own reaction was to assume my critic was 100% right, which must mean that I was 100% wrong and couldn't trust my own ear, which in turn must mean I'd been unwittingly embarrassing myself & everyone else for the last ten years of singarounds and floor spots. It didn't exactly make my evening. On reflection I think I should have reacted more like Will's Duck Dancer approximator.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Stringsinger
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 09:38 AM

I think the best thing to do is encourage people by complimenting them on the points about their singing that are good. Saying nothing about their shortcomings is the best message. The more advanced a performer is the more they want to know how to improve and sometimes will judiciously ask certain people who are constructive in their attitude
what they think, honestly. Singarounds can be a helpful laboratory for those interested in pursuing a performance career. Sensitivity to gauging audience reaction is very helpful.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Gavin Atkin
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 09:45 AM

'You've learnt a song, worked on it, practised it, worked out where to pitch it, thought about which bits to ornament or not, where to speed it up or slow it down, etc, etc.'

Part of the problem is that's what too many people don't do!

Nevertheless I'm still very glad I don't find it needs to be said, at least not at our sessions.

It may just be that if there are enough singers and players in the room who do practice and don't need cribsheets - the folks who would use them up their game a little without the need for anything to be said...

People do want to learn from those they respect - the success of workshops at festivals and at Lewes etc shows this clearly.

Gavin

Gavin


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 09:55 AM

It's homemade music at the end of the day and people should accept it for it is,community making music. The old guys from whom songs were collected weren't great on production values and fine voice but we still listen to those old recordings with reverence. IT should all be an exercise in tolerance because there are many people who have soemthing to sing but never do because they fear criticism.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 10:09 AM

All public performers, pro or amateur, should ensure that each of their performances is recorded - excellent pocket sound recorders are very affordable nowadays. You can then be your own crit - listen to the recording as if of strangers. Or ask your mother-in-law.

"How good was it, in absolute terms?" is one question, "Is that good enough for the event?" is the other, obviously depending on the character of the event and how it is advertised and announced.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: cooperman
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 10:10 AM

Everyone makes mistakes...if you don't worry about it so much you will probably make less. If someone told me I played something wrong I would just laugh and say it was the jazz version! Different if it's a paid gig and the person paying you is critical(time to grovel!)


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 10:18 AM

Rob is that Elijah Wolf at Axminster - when is it and where. it would be nice to meet up


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 10:20 AM

I think the best thing to do is encourage people... saying nothing about their shortcomings is the best message.

I couldn't disagree more. I no longer bother to attend singarounds, as I have better things to do with my spare time than listen to drivel.

I recognise that I'm, at best, a fairly average singer, so I don't inflict my voice on other people. If only others felt the same...


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Craigie Hill
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 10:30 AM

Different if it's a paid gig and the person paying you is critical

Everyone knows Billy Connolly's story about "Needle of Death", I take it.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 10:39 AM

Everyone knows Billy Connolly's story about "Needle of Death"

I don't think that everyone in the entire world knows that story. I personally know the Bert Jansch song, but not much more. Could you elucidate please?


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Vic Smith
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 10:50 AM

Keith A quotes someone as saying " "I came to play not listen"
Now, there speaks someone who is not likely to improve

Rob Naylor wrote "I'm very conscious of being probably the weakest there musically and really go more to "watch and learn" and "listen and enjoy" in the hope that one day I'll improve enough not to feel a total fraud when sitting in the circle.
Now there speaks someone who is almost bound to improve.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Gavin Atkin
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 11:05 AM

It can't be wrong to aim to create an environment that's entertaining, welcoming and encouraging.

None of us mind having beginners try their teeth on us, no-one objects to improvers who are working on improving, and no-one is upset about someone who has clearly made the effort making a mistake or two - particularly if it's through nerves.

What the folks who haven't bothered to learn their stuff and don't see any need to do so don't perhaps realise is that their approach is unkind to the audience, and is perhaps a key reason why audiences are often small and also why the folk scene has such a terrible reputation in many quarters.

I'm pretty sure many folks would not disagree. My question's this: how can organisers tackle the issue effectively, and kindly?

Gavin


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Craigie Hill
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 11:11 AM

The "Needle of Death" story: googling to check the details I find it's already been told here on Mudcat. Combining the earlier poster's retelling with my recollection, here it is:

Back when he was a working folkie, Billy Connolly was doing a gig. It was going fine, except that somebody kept calling for "Needle of Death". The trouble was, not only was this song not in his setlist, he didn't actually know it. The first couple of times, he ignored the guy and just did the next song he was planning to do. "Needle of Deeeath!" So he paused, looked round the room, located the guy, looked him in the eye and said "Sorry, pal, I don't know Needle of Death". Then he went into the next song. At the end of it: "Needle of Deeeath! Play Neeeeedle of Deeeeeath!" "Look, pal, I'm really sorry to disappoint you, but I don't actually know Needle of Death, OK?" End of next song: "Neeeedle of Deeeath!" He tried making a joke of it, he tried taking the piss, but nothing worked: all the way through the gig, after every single song, the cry would go up from the back of the room: "Neeeedle of Deeeath! Play Neeeeedle of Deeeeeath!"

So, he got through the set, then he got off stage and went to seek out this idiot who'd done his best to ruin his act. Being quite a large bloke, he got the guy pinned against the back wall and explained his position forcefully: "Look, pal. I don't know what your problem is, but you have just ruined my act asking for Needle Of Death. Like I told you, I wasn't going to play Needle Of F*cking Death, because I don't know the f*cking song! So please, from now, keep out of my way and DON'T ASK ME FOR NEEDLE OF F*CKING DEATH. OK?"

It turned out it was the promoter.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: kendall
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 11:17 AM

Sing arounds are for sharing, not performing.

It's hard to listen to someone who can't carry a note with a co signer, but what is gained by hurting their feelings?


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 11:41 AM

I'm actually in this situation right now, where a song/guitar circle I go to includes one very nice fellow who cannot sing on pitch.....and sings the songs in totally different keys from what he's playing. It makes singing along and playing along difficult.....and occasionally he stops the song because nobody's jamming with him.

I've decided to stay silent.......because I don't think it's something he can change easily, and he really does enjoy singing and playing.

If there were some small 'tips' I could give him, I probably would. Or if he asked for feedback, then I'd probably need to be (politely) honest. But I don't want to discourage him.......and I really don't mind playing and singing with him most of the time.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Gavin Atkin
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 11:56 AM

He does at least bother to learn his stuff, right?

Gavin


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,theticklemister
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 12:05 PM

I believe the session is there for enjoyment and to share. Not everyone is going to be gifted as other people.just grin and bear it people, maybe it took a lot of courage for this person to perform and what is there to gain by criticising them? i'm sure when the said person goes ye could all chat and say 'did ye see yer man?' but in his prescence I think it would be quite cruel.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Craigie Hill
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 12:11 PM

"It's hard to listen to someone who can't carry a note with a co signer"

I think you're going for the low-hanging fruit there, kendall! Question is, when (if ever) would you think it appropriate to go up to somebody who sings reasonably well and say "shame about the way you screwed up that second chorus"? Assume that they haven't shown any sign of thinking that they did screw up the second chorus.

Actually an even more interesting question, from my perspective, is how you'd feel if somebody else sprung this on you - assuming, again, that you'd thought the second chorus was fine.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 12:22 PM

Anywhere were the public have access, club, recital, concert or singaround, is committed to establishing, where possible, that the standard doesn't fall below an established (by the organisers) level.
"No matter how good the best, visitors, non aficionados, relatives, friends, well-wishers... always go away with the memory of the worst" - near-enough-for-folk-song-law.
Every club we've been involved with had has attempted to offer some sort of assistance ranging from personal help by willing individuals to fully-fledged workshops (London Singers Workshop ran for nearly twenty years).
Some clubs set up private singarounds, either in members' homes or in booked rooms, where less experienced singers got a chance to develop out of the glare of the footlights.
There is 'criticism and criticism' of course; "that was crap" isn't either, it's condemnation - the English folk scene is plagued by not being able to tell the difference.
Of all the art or entertainment form I love and have ever been involved in, Folk song is the only one that considers itself above criticism and has developed an immune system against it - terms like "folk-police" and "elitist" spring to mind.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 12:23 PM

Constructive criticism should only be given if it is asked for, and preferably in private.
That was what The Critics group was about, wasnt it? helping each other


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 12:32 PM

Al Whittle: Yes,it is Elijah Wolf at Axminster.He runs an open mic at the Axminster Inn every Wednesday from 9pm to midnight. Quite variable....some very good performers and some mediocre and it varies from week to week. Some nights are absolutely magic and go on into the small hours when the amp plug's pulled, with people jamming, teaching each other bits and pieces etc. Other nights seem to struggle on until midnight.

Elijah's a great guy. He runs other "Howl Open Mic" sessions around the area too. Bridport, Tytherleigh and other places. His band "The Gravity Drive" seems on the verge of a bit of success now.


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Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,Craigie Hill
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 12:40 PM

I don't know who first brought in the "minimum standards"/"what to do with people who don't make an effort"/"GEFF" red herring, but to my mind it really is a red herring - at least, we've* done it to death on the Cat before now & I wanted to talk about something a bit different. See my reply to kendall.

*Confession time: I'm a regular with a misplaced cookie.


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