Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Don't Waste Good Criticism!

The road to Carnegie Hall is paved with many annoying and unplanned irritations. Progress is never criticism-free. The problem is that we let those inevitable criticisms cause us to lose focus and confidence so that we miss seeing their benefits. Easily angered or discouraged, we then lose our motivation. The issue then becomes not control of the instrument, but a struggle for control of ourselves!

Why not consider criticisms as lesson assignments intended to improve your playing? Sometime in the near future, you will certainly be required to make adjustments on the spot. Responding well is part of what you will have to do. Get used to it.

If intonation is not refined now, you will have to face a wincing conductor pulling at his ear as he hears you add havoc to the pitch of the ensemble. If your rhythm is unsteady, you will have to deal with irritated colleagues as you add havoc to the precision of the ensemble. If you ignore dynamics you will become a nice contributor to a mediocre ensemble. You get the picture. Fix it now, or you might not even get the chance to fix it later.

Whatever the point of your irritation, be thankful that it has been brought to your attention. Our egos should never be so great that we are offended at complaints about our playing. Think of critical comments as good advice that can ultimately improve your performance. Hard-to-take comments can result in making you a much better player as well as a person. So welcome them, get to work, and don't react. Your road to success will be a lot less painful for you and for your colleagues.

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