Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Most Important Critic

As performers, we are constantly subjected to the harsh criticism of others. Some are well-meaning, offering advice meant to improve some aspect of our career. Some criticism is sparked by jealousy and insecurity on the part of the critic. Others are simply mean-spirited comments designed to tear us apart. I have had my fair share of all three categories of criticism recently. It is easy to fall into a state of depression as a result of the comments. After all, the performance that is being reviewed is not some laboratory experiment; it is an extension of me as a person – and intricately linked to my emotions and thoughts.

Finally, I have reached the point where I can say, “Enough is enough!” If you’re not happy with my interpretation of a piece, don’t listen. Don’t like my approach or my level of commitment? Find someone else to work with. You don’t like my teaching philosophy? Find another teacher. The single critic that can have a profound impact on my music is me….all the rest is just noise.

Do I think I have all the answers? Certainly not. As a musician, however, I have to make a decision that I am committed to and then run with it. I continue to listen to the advice of others – those I trust and respect, who have shown themselves to be genuine and courteous, wanting to see me succeed. When the curtain comes down, the one who must be able to defend the choices made is only me.

So, let the criticism come. These are the questions that I’m asking myself. Am I happy? Do I like the message my music is portraying? Am I being true to myself, my goals, and my dreams? As long as I can honestly say “yes” to all of these questions, my inner critic is pleased and I’ll happily follow the road ahead wherever it leads.