Mid-way through that songwriter retreat, one of the other contributing artists shared a story that, in my estimation, clearly detailed the danger of expecting niceness rather than seeking critique. Upon arrival, one of the participants whose song he had critiqued approached him, infuriated.
Student: “I don’t understand the feedback you gave me.”
Teacher: “Let’s take a look at it and see if I can’t be clearer.”
Student: “No, I don’t get why I got negative feedback at all.”
Teacher: “Oh, ok. Which song was it?”
The participant handed over the critique sheet for a song I can only assume was entitled “Glorious Song Of Exceeding Excellence.”
Teacher: “Ah, yes. Well, like I wrote here, I felt like the bridge was really disconnected and that the melody wandered quite a bit.” Student: “Listen, I woke up with this whole song in my mind and put it down exactly the way I heard it in my sleep. God gave me this song in a dream.”
Teacher: “God gave you this song?”
Teacher: “Have you considered, then, that God may have given you this song because He didn’t like it, either? Maybe you were supposed to fix it.”
Thoughtful, informed critique includes specifics, handles to hold, sometimes even alternative suggestions. The difference between negativity and critique is like the difference between saying “You aren’t good at parking cars” and saying “Your car is currently parked in the middle of a busy intersection… and the engine seems to be running.” I can do something with the latter comment: I can move my car.
This is an excerpt from my book Title Pending, which will be released this Fall/Winter. Join the email list for more like this, news about the release and content no one else gets.