Years ago, I heard my first band would be featured in the local paper and I was so excited to read the article. I hurried home to read it and found that the short blurb was far from complimentary. A public critique like that can make you want to give up. I certainly wanted to hide under my bed for a week!
However, I have learned how to handle criticism and continued to make music that makes me happy. In the time since then, I have been lucky enough to receive both criticism and positive reviews. How sad it would have been if I had quit music over one review!
If you’re struggling to cope with a critique, here’s my advice to deal with music criticism gracefully and even learn from it.
Don’t Take it Personally
When you get negative feedback about your music, it can feel like a personal attack. It can be very hard for artists to separate themselves from their work. Always remember, when somebody critiques your work it doesn’t mean that they don’t like you or that they want you to feel bad. They are simply expressing their opinion.
Get Some Distance
The last thing you need to do is keep rehashing the criticism in your mind. If you find yourself feeling hurt or angered by a critique, find a way to put it out of your mind. Call a friend, go for a walk, or spend some time with a great book. Connect with the positive things in your life that inspired you to create music in the first place.
Learn from it
Sometimes criticism is hard to hear simply because we need to hear it. Once the sting has worn off, ask yourself if there is anything you can learn from this critique. Perhaps there is an aspect of your musicianship that you have been neglecting that you could improve upon to avoid similar critiques in the future. If you’re coming up against a musical challenge that you’re not sure how to overcome, private lessons can be a great way to learn to play better.
Even if you feel like the critique you received was absolutely wrong, you may still be able to learn from it. If your work was misunderstood or misjudged, think about what you were trying to convey. Did you do your best to convey the feeling or style you were aiming for, or was there anything you could do differently to make your ideas come across stronger? Take your critique as an opportunity to refine your point of view.
Look to your Idols
Go ahead, pull up the music video for your favorite song on YouTube. Now scroll through the comments. Yikes, it can get nasty in there! Just remind yourself that everyone faces music criticism (yes, even Beyonce). Just because one person didn’t like your work, that doesn’t mean that millions of other people won’t love it!
Brush it off
Once in a while as you put your music out there, you might receive criticism that seems unreasonably harsh, especially in the world of anonymous online comments. When you get this kind of negative feedback, just remind yourself that it very likely has little to do with you. Don’t let cruel words have power over you and your state of mind.
You Can’t Please Everyone
As much as we artists would enjoy being universally loved and supported, you must accept that not everyone will be a fan of your work. It’s better to spend your energy on connecting with people who love your music than obsessing over the people who don’t. Keep on creating and spreading the word about your music. Keep a positive attitude and a great work ethic, and you’ll soon find your fans vastly outnumber your critics.
We want to know, how do you handle music criticism?
–Megan L. TakeLessons Staff Member and Blogger
TakeLessons offers private music, performing arts, and academic tutoring lessons. TakeLessons teachers are available for local and online lessons. Visit our website to learn more and find your perfect teacher today.
Photo by Sander van der Wel