Last night at the 2012 BRIT Awards, Coldplay earned the award for Best British Band, despite being under fire lately for their Grammy performance earlier this month. What can musicians learn from that? Being a performer takes guts. Music, like all art, can be very subjective – and these days, everyone is a critic.
Negative feedback, less-than-stellar performances, and rejection from auditions can hurt – for anyone! But if there’s one thing to remember, it’s this: having a bad audition or performance does not make you a bad musician! Mistakes are just as essential as successes. As long as you’re learning from them, those mistakes will mold you along the way as you improve.
Still feeling the sting? Check out these fantastic tips for dealing with critiques from Brass Musician Magazine:
1. Just Breathe.
In most situations, getting angry is not going to help. There’s nothing wrong with being upset at the situation — that’s healthy! But yelling, sulking, hitting the walls or taking your anger out on friends or strangers isn’t healthy. Take a deep breath or three. Take a step back. Understand that in all likelihood your career isn’t over, things could be worse, and you have a valuable — if painful — opportunity to grow as a musician.
If you’re still really ticked off, upset, or in shock about what happened, you need to find a way to relieve your stress in a healthy way. Do something that engages your body and your mind — try yoga, meditation, jogging, martial arts, or hiking.
3. Analyze The Problem.
Once you’re calm, try to look at the experience objectively without obsessing or beating yourself up. Go step-by-step and figure out where things went wrong. Did you get nervous and fail to breathe properly? Did you overwork yourself the day before? Did you spend too little or too much time on your warm-up? Were you under-prepared? Did you oversleep? Did you let a small mistake rattle you so much you continued to make bigger mistakes? Were you unprepared for the physical conditions of the recital or concert? Did you have equipment problems?
4. Look For Solutions.
Once you’ve figured out what went wrong, see if you can fix the problem. If you had problems with nerves, perhaps you can start putting on mini-performances for friends or peers to get used to playing with an audience, or develop a warm-up routine that involves some calming and focusing mental exercises. If you were rattled by a mistake, practice making mistakes! Have a friend bump your elbow or move your music while you’re playing and try to keep going. Practice playing in a wide variety of conditions — hot, cold, too dark, too bright, poor acoustics, audience practically in your lap — so when it comes up for real, you’ll be ready.
5. Let Go.
Eventually, you have to accept that the best you can do is the best you can do. At the end of the day, if you have done everything in your power to be successful, then you’ve done your part. You can’t control everything else. If you’ve cleaned and oiled and maintained your valves, but one sticks in the performance, it’s beyond your control. If you’re solidly prepared and play the audition the best you can, but someone else plays it a little better, that’s beyond your control. If you’ve done your very best, you’ve succeeded. Even if the outcome isn’t what you had hoped, the process you went through to be prepared will make you a better musician.
Readers, what do you think of these tips? What has helped YOU bounce back from a bad audition or a negative critique? Leave a comment below! Like these posts? Sign up to receive daily updates right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe.
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