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How to handle criticism?

GUEST,Northerner 09 Jun 07 - 10:49 AM
Nick 09 Jun 07 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,Northerner 09 Jun 07 - 11:05 AM
John MacKenzie 09 Jun 07 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Mr Drunkopinionatedbore 09 Jun 07 - 11:13 AM
Mike Miller 09 Jun 07 - 11:15 AM
SINSULL 09 Jun 07 - 11:17 AM
kendall 09 Jun 07 - 11:25 AM
Tim theTwangler 09 Jun 07 - 11:28 AM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jun 07 - 11:32 AM
mg 09 Jun 07 - 12:32 PM
Tim theTwangler 09 Jun 07 - 01:06 PM
Ythanside 09 Jun 07 - 01:14 PM
GUEST,Texas Guest 09 Jun 07 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 09 Jun 07 - 03:13 PM
Leadfingers 09 Jun 07 - 04:18 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 09 Jun 07 - 04:26 PM
Jack Campin 09 Jun 07 - 04:35 PM
Waddon Pete 09 Jun 07 - 04:39 PM
Jim Lad 09 Jun 07 - 04:43 PM
Mo the caller 09 Jun 07 - 05:36 PM
GUEST,sparticus 09 Jun 07 - 05:49 PM
guitar 09 Jun 07 - 06:04 PM
Bee 09 Jun 07 - 07:06 PM
kendall 09 Jun 07 - 07:27 PM
Bert 09 Jun 07 - 07:49 PM
Blowzabella 09 Jun 07 - 07:54 PM
GUEST,mg 09 Jun 07 - 08:32 PM
Jack Campin 09 Jun 07 - 08:47 PM
Effsee 09 Jun 07 - 08:59 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Jun 07 - 09:43 PM
Bert 09 Jun 07 - 09:45 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 09 Jun 07 - 09:52 PM
GUEST,Wendy J 09 Jun 07 - 09:58 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Jun 07 - 10:12 PM
GUEST,Sandy Andina 10 Jun 07 - 12:58 AM
Mike Miller 10 Jun 07 - 02:28 AM
GUEST,JTT 10 Jun 07 - 03:23 AM
Commander Crabbe 10 Jun 07 - 09:14 AM
Willie-O 10 Jun 07 - 09:59 AM
Darowyn 10 Jun 07 - 12:53 PM
Mike Miller 10 Jun 07 - 03:57 PM
GUEST 10 Jun 07 - 04:26 PM
Mo the caller 10 Jun 07 - 05:27 PM
GUEST,Unbiased listener 11 Jun 07 - 02:44 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Jun 07 - 03:02 AM
stallion 11 Jun 07 - 05:53 AM
GUEST 11 Jun 07 - 07:00 AM
Saro 11 Jun 07 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,meself 11 Jun 07 - 12:35 PM
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Subject: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,Northerner
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 10:49 AM

Does anyone have any advice on how to handle criticism of their performances?

I am learning storytelling and have been telling for two years come this summer. I am being supported by a master storyteller who is an old friend, and am also hoping to be mentored by another master storyteller (once funds are available). Currently I am busy going to a good assortment of workshops/masterclasses to learn and improve skills. I get good feedback and encouragement from the professional storytellers.

I try out some of my material at local folk clubs. I have one gentleman who insists on criticising my performances. I believe he likes my singing voice.   However, he has never, ever had a good word to say about my storytelling. He is an experienced performer, but an amateur not professional, and is a singer, not a storyteller. I find this gentleman very offputting and because he has no experience in storytelling some of his advice is not accurate.

This gentleman can be kind and helpful, and I do think he believes he is being helpful by giving me advice based on his long experience performing. In fact he is very offputting. Does anyone have any tactful comments that I could use to ask him to refrain from negative criticism? Although experienced he is not a perfect performer by any means - he frequently forgets his words.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Nick
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 10:55 AM

Why not just draw him to one side and tell him exactly how you feel - ie that he seems be very negative to you - and ask him why?

Is he trying to help or hinder?

Does he hate storytelling? (I have a friend who positively detests poets, so any 'criticism' from them would always be unhelpful I would guess)

If he is doing it to help he'll understand.
If he is doing it to be destructive then it will confirm in your mind that he's an idiot and you can react accordingly in future.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,Northerner
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 11:05 AM

Thank you Nick. I do believe he thinks he is being helpful. I don't think he likes storytelling though; I have a feeling he may think it is meant for children. He told me at one time that he didn't want to hear Goldilocks. I was quite taken aback as I have never performed that and had no intention of telling it at a folk club. I don't think he is ever likely to give me a good criticism of my storytelling. So I am going to have to find some way of asking him to refrain from criticism.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 11:08 AM

Tell him you welcome positive criticism, but to stow the negative stuff where the sun don't shine.
I suggest you reciprocate by criticising his performances too.
Giok


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,Mr Drunkopinionatedbore
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 11:13 AM

how sober is he when he usually starts lecturing you ?


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Mike Miller
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 11:15 AM

May I ask Northerner a few questions? Is you audience aware that you are studying storytelling? They should not be. I have been a full time professional performer for fifty years and I can tell you that the most valuable asset you can possess is confidence. A confident performer puts an audience at ease. A confident performer does not encounter much unsolicited advice. Maybe, some drunken heckling but that is a different thread.
What aspects of storytelling are you studying? I sure hope you are taking acting lessons. That is what a storyteller needs, vocal control and believability. After that, it is just a matter of being at ease with an audience. Unfortunately, many performers fear the audience and audiences sense that fear. But, if you really like the audience, they will like you back. An audience is just a bunch of people and people tend to like people who like them.
So, stop being a student in your mind and in theirs. You will be great.

                      Mike Miller


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: SINSULL
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 11:17 AM

Any chance of simply avoiding him? Or ask him point blank if he objects to the stories or your telling of them.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: kendall
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 11:25 AM

Is he your only critic? If so, ignore him.

Remember that old Hebrew saying: "If a man calls you an ass, you may ignore him. If two men call you an ass, get a saddle,"


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 11:28 AM

In my limited experience you take the rough with the smooth and basically perform to your own satisfaction.
If you get positive comment smile and say thank you that is nice to hear.
If get well meaning but unhelpful comments say you will think about it.
If get a load of crap that stops short of warranting a smack in the mouth laugh and say thank you so much in as sarcastic a way as possible.
Basically if you aim to be as good as you want to be
It ceases to matter about comments of any sort
you are always your worst critic.
(If you happen to be one of those who isnt hope never to hear you LOL)
Wish we got story tellers at our local venues would love to hear some good tales.
Stick with it.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 11:32 AM

goes with the territory. if you perform, someone will criticise. look at all the awful things people on mudcat say about performers who have devoted their entire lives to playing and entertaining.

most of us just avoid the places where they don't like us. that, and we develop the hide of a rhinoceros. it makes for a restricted lifestyle - but at least its us that decide what we're going to do - not some loudmouth prat.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: mg
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 12:32 PM

Is storytelling welcome at your folk club? I know personally I want to hear music at a music thing and really don't have the patience to listen much to stories. I would tell your stories where people gather specifically to hear stories..perhaps library hours etc...and I bet you will get a wonderful resposne because that is what they went to actually hear. I think there is very little correlation between liking stories and liking music. I just practically twitch when someone tells long stories especially....I want to yell just give the story in writing and I will read it...but I am not an auditory learner and many people are...mg


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 01:06 PM

It amazes me that people say tey dont wanna hear a story at a club or venue.
Then they will happily have some tiemwaster reveal the precious story of how they found a song or got it from someone famous and then tell you the whole bloomin story that is in the bloomin'song they are about to delight you with. Grrrrr
LOL
of course I always enjoy the time they also spend tellin you about the song they just sang and the way the organiser then lets them have tiem for one last one and they start rabbiting on again and over run their time by a mile and drone drone drone drone
I dont mind what you choose to perform if it is in yer 15 min time limit go for it.
We can always chuck empty beer tins at you if is crap.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Ythanside
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 01:14 PM

From all of the foregoing, especially the title of the thread, it seems that Mike Miller may have pinpointed the primary cause of the problem. Confidence is the key ingredient of performance; if you don't have that then you cannot do justice to any material, no matter how good it may be. Don't waffle for minutes before you cut to the chase, it either bores the crowd senseless of warns them that you're not very sure of yourself. NEVER apologise in advance for any ensuing imperfections, or they will be looking out for them. Tell no-one that you are a novice/student/learner; just get up, smile directly at your audience, and deliver the goods.
Oh, and don't take criticism (or any other aspect of entertainment) too seriously. Have fun. If you're enjoying yourself then chances are the audience is too.
Ythanside


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,Texas Guest
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 01:15 PM

Well, I don't perform at clubs much anymore; seems that whatever "it" is that you're supposed to have, well - I don't have it. With that thought in mind, however, I do make a living singing at retirement homes and festivals (mostly Irish). I have always advised folks that you've got to be thick skinned to do music (or any performance art) for a living; and, you will have those who admire your work, but everyone is not going to appreciate you; some will be totally indifferent towards you, and some will find what you do to be absolutely distasteful - and you have to tolerate all of those opinions with the self-satisfaction that your ship is sailing, regardless. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 03:13 PM

Digitally!!

With all ten fingers. Toes too if need be...

And if that's not enough, guys, you better have your fly open too---just to keep things right at hand...

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 04:18 PM

One of the things I DO like about the UK folk Club scene is the wide variety of things floor singers will produce - Self penned songs , Tunes , Traditional stuff , Covers of well known songs , Music Hall , Blues , poetry and STORY TELLING !
We have lady locally who wanted to perform , but couldnt carry a tune in a bucket ! THEN she discovered Story telling , and is now always warmly welcomed when she turns up for a floor spot !
Like ANY Performance Art , Story telling needs to be rehearsed and the presentation skills built up ! Good luck with it !! And ignore the negativity .


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 04:26 PM

I like the idea of storytelling - and I've heard some good ones in my time. In my opinion one of the greatest storytellers of all time was Bert Lloyd. His stories were humorous and sly . He could hint at outrageous sexual behaviour and unfathomable mysteries all in the same story. Above all his stories were for adults - not children - and he was never, ever, patronising.

I've also heard some really bad storytwellers as well. I vividly remember a folk evening in a country pub. The evening started well, with some good singing. Then this bloody woman got up and started telling a story. It was long and boring and rather pointles and went on and on and on and on and ... Not only that but her delivery was arch, pretentious and patronising and there were lots of silly hand movements (you know, if she mentioned 'heads' she touched her head, if she mentioned 'wings' the silly b..ch flapped her f..king arms, etc., etc. etc.).

I'm sure you're a great storyteller but, perhaps, your critic been traumatised by being subjected to too many silly prats like the woman in the pub (?)


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 04:35 PM

I rather like the idea of folk clubs featuring "performance art" in the modern sense.

Like someone supergluing themselves naked to the ceiling and then spending the evening swallowing the entire text of "The Laidley Worm of Spindleston Heugh" printed on macaroni from a bowl on the floor.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 04:39 PM

How to respond to criticism?

You need some stock answers to pointed remarks!

For example...."why would you say that?"

This puts the onus on the critic....

But faith in yourself is the best defense!

Best wishes

Peter


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 04:43 PM

Northerner: No-one who takes the time to offer negative criticism after a performance, is trying to help you in any way whatsoever.
In fact, if the individual has taken the time to let you know that they don't even like "Storytelling" then to me at least, I'd have to say that he's trying to drive you out.
I'd be less polite. Probably interrupt the eejit with something like "Sorry Harry! I have some friends to see right now. Maybe later!" and walk away while his gums are still flapping. Nothing to feel bad about on your part.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 05:36 PM

On a callers website a well know UK dance caller discussed some feedback he had received when calling in US.
We had a long discussion about the different ways Uk and US dancers react to teaching styles, the merits of 'being yourself' the pitfalls of a particular style etc.

So, enjoy your story telling, develope your own style, but if you have the courage to analyse what he is saying (ask him to be more specific, if you need)you may learn something. Or you may conclude that his is a personal view, not shared by others.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,sparticus
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 05:49 PM

You sound like a rather sensitive soul. Constructive criticism is valuable and can be taken on board to improve performance and as such should be acceptable. Negative criticism can, if you let it, damage your confidence in your ability - try not to let it if this is what you want to do with your life - it is not acceptable. A good way to address this problem would be to make up a story that includes a character similar to your protagonist that shows him up in a very poor light. Include all of the things that trouble the character who represents yourself and how it makes them feel (fill it out a bit of course) then find an ending that resolves the problem the way you would like it to. Finally, tell the story the next time he is in the audience and see afterwards if the penny has dropped. Failing that choose an expletive that precedes "off" to see him on his way. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: guitar
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 06:04 PM

i like to hear stories at folk clubs, I might start to do that at the folk club I go to.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Bee
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 07:06 PM

You also have to consider where the criticism's coming from: I'm a learning guitarist, and I find I get the oddest negative critiques from people who can't play any instrument at all. In fact, no one who actually plays music has been anything but kind and encouraging. I had a drunk fellow last night who 'used to play a bit of electric guitar' try to tell me I use 'too many fingers on a chord - two finger chords are the best'. I find a blank uncomprehending stare works best with these types. ;-)


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: kendall
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 07:27 PM

I told a story at the Sharp Folk club in London and it was as well received as the song I sang.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Bert
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 07:49 PM

I don't know where you get the idea that he is a GENTLEMAN!!!
A gentleman will only give positive feedback.

He sounds to me like a useless prick who is jealous that you are able to branch out into a field that is beyond his ability.

Although I haven't heard you, from the scenario you describe, I wouldn't mind betting that you are a great storyteller.

Go with Bee's suggestion of a blank uncomprehending stare.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Blowzabella
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 07:54 PM

Off topic, and not answering the question but, just in response to mg - surely there is nothing in the title 'folk club' that suggests it should be all about music? Storytelling used to be a huge part of our folk culture and I, too, am somewhat disappointed that many people nowadays seem to think that it is something to send the kids to. Listening to a story is one of the oldest forms of entertainment there is - and telling stories well requires as great a talent as singing or playing an instrument.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 08:32 PM

That is true certainly...and I would respect that..however, if the ratio of storytelling to songs got too high (as in more than every now and then) I would just not attend and leave it for others who appreciated this art form more than I personally do. mg


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 08:47 PM

Northerner comes across as rather quiet and shy, which means target for bullying by some people.

Maybe tell a counter-story?

Once there was a man who could never stop criticizing other people's work. Didn't matter if it was the way a busdriver drove his bus, the way a shop assistant bagged up his socks, or the way a cricket commentator described the game, there was always something he could find fault with. And he went on like that to the end of his life, complaining that the nurses didn't put his bedpan properly under his bum and wouldn't turn the lights up bright enough when his sight was failing. So, he died. The Angel of Death swept him up in the folds of his cloak (only to hear him moaning about how it wasn't tied right) and took him up to the Seat of Judgment. Where he immediately started telling the Lord off about what He'd got wrong. The appendix. Piles. Why did He create midges, anyway? Couldn't He arrange the stars in a more attractive pattern? And why did He let Jade ever win on Big Brother? So, the Almighty answered:

- You know, you've got a point. I'm going to let you take my job over for a while.

And so the Lord showed him round the Creative Creation Suite where He sat in his Almighty Posture Chair and designed stuff. He showed the critic everything: all the design specs (version 37.2345[A2]X.11A) for the pubic hairs of the dog flea, the environmental impact statement for the orbital path of Ganymede, the way a neutron wiggling around inside a star 45 billion light years from earth was designed to keep in time with a the mating call of a semigaseous but rather sluglike organism the other side of the universe which sounded a bit like "Goodbye Porkpie Hat", and so on. (The Creative Creation Suite was kinda big).

- OK? Just start anywhere. How about this bit? I've never been happy with it myself.

So, the critic started. Billions of light years away from Earth, there was a kind of centipede-ish carrot-ish megnetic-field-secreting creature whose left antenna tended to fall off. It didn't exactly have DNA, more a sort of purply glowing stuff that teleported new antennae into existence out of lost Earth socks. After a few hundred years of reading the design files, the critic tried to rearrange the wiggle a bit. It went orange instead of purple and every galaxy beginning with P turned into brown sludge. So the critic went back to looking at the design files for another few thousand years, and after another rearrangement of the wiggle the creatures turned more volcano-ish than centipede-ish and ate every magnetic field line in the universe that wouldn't swear allegiance to the Immortal Crotch Rot Fungus of the Cosmic Turtle, but their left antennae still fell off.

He's still there trying. His last attempt got Paris Hilton let out of jail.

(The question is how far you could get with a story like that before the penny dropped and the bully stormed out in a screaming tantrum).


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Effsee
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 08:59 PM

Nice one Jack!


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 09:43 PM

A) do you really know what you are doing that the critic is criticising - how much experience have you got and how much training have you got?

B) does the critic really know what you are doing that the critic is criticising - how much experience has the critic got and how much training has he got?

If A >> B, then ignore the ignorant bastard!

:-)


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Bert
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 09:45 PM

...how much experience have you got... he says he has two years and is training with a master story teller.

That tells me he is most probably pretty good.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 09:52 PM

Yes, Jack... exquisite!   Thanks!!!

Those who can... woo
Those who can't... teach

Problem is... hardly anyone is 'schooled' in creative encouragement techniques these days except the already accomplished, and because most of them have learned the hard way what stifles the muse, so they usually sustain and improve you with a gift... rather than a punishment. So, unless they agreed with you already, or they want to get laid... it's going to be 'a tweaky bit' that generally reflects the general audience's genera specific preferences, rather than truly constructive 'craft related' feedback.

Play a straight Child Ballad to Bluegrassers, and about half of them will be bored by the second verse... and someone will probably come up and talk about improving your technique and NPS (notes per second).

Play your new fave folk-pop song for a mostly trad audience, and some are sure to roll their eyes, and think you're vainly walking the road to hell, and what's worse... you're trying to take them with you.

However, the people that 'thoroughly enjoyed' your performance for what it was, will probably say nothing... but that's OK... because you know who they are.

You were there.

ttr


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,Wendy J
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 09:58 PM

If you like, I'll come by and punch Mr. Critic in the nose. Shame on him. Artists should be supported. If you don't like someone's work, there's always the door.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Jun 07 - 10:12 PM

Having reread Northerner's first post - it is clear that the critic is suffering from an excess of ego. You have to learn to deal with this (other people's excess of ego - also called jealousy) if you want to survive as a performer. Your "master storyteller" teacher/coach should be able to help you with this.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,Sandy Andina
Date: 10 Jun 07 - 12:58 AM

I first consider the source and then the context. If it comes from someone I respect (and whose opinion I've solicited), I listen--and ask myself if the criticism in question is similar to what I've heard from others. If so (or it mirrors something I might even have suspected) I look to whether it involves an area I know I can improve. The first time anyone ever criticized my voice, I wouldn't set foot on a stage for two weeks afterward, and it took a friend to call me up, give me a pep talk and literally drag me back to an open mic. That was 25 years ago. Next time, it was a record reviewer who astutely observed that what I'd recorded did not match the way he'd seen me perform--and suggested that I never again record on anyone's timetable but my own. I am indebted to him for that advice. Another reviewer was scathing--but it was my fault for not vetting the publication in question; had I done so I'd have realized the genre, renown and commercial success of their typical reviewed artist and never have submitted my work for review. Nonetheless, I then wrote a proudly assertive song (that *I* knew was a cathartic "F-you" but doesn't come off that way--have yet to record it). And FIVE years after I submitted to another publication, it gave me a lukewarm review--and when I contacted the reviewer (who'd apologized for his backlog), he was flabbergasted when I agreed with most of his assessment, since I have grown exponentially as both a performer and writer since then (whether I have acquired greater humility is another question entirely).

When criticism comes at a song circle, I also listen to who's doing the criticizing, who else he's criticizing, and whether he's slamming everyone else for the same thing. But I have learned never to be "married" to a song, not even after I've recorded and released it--a song is a work I have created, not my child I have borne; and if there is a way I can tweak it and make it more effective (shorter, different choice of word, melodic or chord change), I am all ears. More often than not, truly constructive criticism has turned a good song into a great one: and I've seen it in audience reactions before and after the change. There will also always be people who feel compelled to critique simply to demonstrate they are paying attention; there will be others (usually contrarians) who feel that bucking a trend or dissing something popular marks them as people of superior discernment. Bleep them and the cockroaches they rode in on. The trick is to develop the experience to tell the difference between those who want to help and those who want to build themselves up by tearing down others.

I have grown thicker skin even as I have grown thicker calluses on my picking fingers....but I still remain open to ways I can improve.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Mike Miller
Date: 10 Jun 07 - 02:28 AM

Storytelling is, not only, appropriate in a folk club, it is routine.
I have never done a performance without stories. When I do senior facilities, my set includes the lovely "Believe Me, If All Those endearing Young Charms" precede by the tender story of how it was composed. (Look it up. You'll love it).
When I do a Jewish venue, I mix in stories about Chassidim and a few Chelm tales, of course. My agents sell me as a singer and storyteller.
When I play a folk club or folk concert, I tell the same stories and add a couple from South Philly. What I don't do is announce, "I am about to tell a story." I know how "sophisticated" and jaded a folk audience can be, so I just kind of sneak up on them and, before they know it, they have been enjoying a story.
The thing is, a performance lives or dies on its own merits. A good performance is always welcome, no matter what the form.

                  Mike Miller


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 10 Jun 07 - 03:23 AM

Couple of questions, if you don't mind, Northerner.

What kind of stories are you telling? Funny? Anecdotes? Literary stories? Can you give us an example?

How long are they?

What are the man's specific criticisms?

What feedback do you get from other audience members?

Does he fancy you?

Apart from that.... how to deal with criticism - well, just keep working, don't let it get you down. Write it down and put it in a drawer, come back to it in six weeks and see if you think it was apposite at that stage; if so, see how you can take the advice; if not, put a light to it.

As for how to respond, I have a friend in her 80s who says her mother had a wonderful phrase when people gave her advice. "I must," she'd say with an air of great interest - without the slightest intention of taking the advice...


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Commander Crabbe
Date: 10 Jun 07 - 09:14 AM

There is always something to learn from criticism both positive and negative.

Even if it is that the critic is an assh--e.

CC


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Willie-O
Date: 10 Jun 07 - 09:59 AM

Yes, as per Cmdr Crabbe, there is always something to learn from criticism. But it's not always about the subject of the criticism, be it your performance or your carpentry skills. Sometimes it's just something you learn about the critic.

In this case, being psychic, I get the distinct impression that it falls into the latter category. The guy just doesn't like storytelling, or (less likely) your particular storytelling. Critics who don't like the media they are criticizing need to find another job, because they have misunderstood what a "critic" is.

I have received a fair amount of useful criticism over the years, none of which I ever enjoyed at the time. In the long run, the useful stuff became apparent to me, and I'm sure you're going through this winnowing process too.

As for how to respond to the guy, I think you should be at least as direct as he is. Like, "That's interesting, but I think I'll keep doing it my way." Or, "That's not what my guru says." Worthwhile to point out that you are an intermediate-level teller, and you already HAVE a mentor. Don't smile and nod with him, he will take it as acceptance. And don't worry about hurting his feelings too much--by the way I don't think you should respond by criticizing his performance shortcomings, that just makes you look petty--he might go off in a huff, but that's not your problem. Seriously. It's not. You didn't ask him to come up and tear a strip off you, did you?   

W-O


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Darowyn
Date: 10 Jun 07 - 12:53 PM

Some reasons why you might pay attention to your self appointed critic:-
-He announces himself,"I'm the producer of Radio 4's "Book at Bedtime"...
-He runs the country's top storytellers' club.
-He runs a talking book record company.
-He's a top storyteller or professional radio actor and is making genuine suggestions as to how the dramatic or humorous aspects of your technique could be improved.

Some reasons why you should roll up your eyes, mutter "Dear Me, they should not let them out.." and walk away shaking your head in a pitying fashion.
-He knows nothing about storytelling- except that he does not want to hear any.
-He has no credibility in any other field either.
-He is clearly only interested in entering into an ego race (sometimes called a p***ing competition)

The difference between a constructive critic and a low level verbal abuser is this. A critic can differentiate between "I don't like it" and "It's not good". I might not care for Opera, for example, but I don't think that Verdi is a bad composer.
A critic will offer advice on how to improve weaker areas, and will praise strengths to maintain motivation.
If your guy does neither, he is just using a veneer of politeness to give you abuse- and what respect can you have for someone who does that?
And if you don't respect the person- you have no need at all to take any notice of what they say.
The man is a wazzock- plain and simple- treat him accordingly.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Mike Miller
Date: 10 Jun 07 - 03:57 PM

Unless you have identified yourself as a student or tyro, the gentleman's comments are way out of line. I have found it a good rule to never offer unsolicited critisism and, even when I am asked, to never offer critisism. My students expect it. That is what they pay me for. Everyone else, really, wants praise, no matter what they say. This is not to say that I pay no attention to audience reaction. They are my ultimate judge. If they don't like a number or a story or joke, I change it or drop it, altogether. But one, self appointed, expert does not affect me. He gets outvoted by the audience every time.
Once again, if you have been telling people that you are just learning your craft, stop doing that. Just tell your stories as best you can. If you are talented and relaxed, you will be well received.
Have I ever lied to you?

                            Mike


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jun 07 - 04:26 PM

How do you handle criticism - if it is sincerely offered and from somebody you trust and respect, you thank him for his generosity. If it isn't and you don't - ignore it.
If I write a book I would expect it to be reviewed and criticised - if it wasn't it would worry me that it had been ignored.
I find it very odd that the traditional arts appear to have placed their exponents above criticism - are they all really that good?
Stand up in front of an audience and you are bound to inspire an opinion of what you do; personally I would sooner have them talk to me rather than whisper behind my back. An old saying about "heat' and "kitchen" springs to mind.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 10 Jun 07 - 05:27 PM

I have found that the time you can be taught something is just when you've pretty much worked it out for yourself.
WHen I was starting to call for our dance club and then starting to call for the general public, we had someone running the club who was very encouraging, and fed in advice, most of which I didn't appreciate at the time; I thought I knew better and could do a more ambitious programme than he was suggesting.
I tend to do it his way now, having found from experience that it works.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,Unbiased listener
Date: 11 Jun 07 - 02:44 AM

The question most folks here are missing is :-

Is the criticism justified?

You only have the posters words to judge her ability.

She has been asked to provide the type of stories she tells but has not yet done so.

People on here are saying not to judge her harshly, but have judged, found guilty & insulted the critic.

There may be another side to the story


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Jun 07 - 03:02 AM

I played one of my small 2 reeder PAs once and got a guy tell me that he thought I wasn't too bad, except when I played just using the single reeds - apparently a piano accordion was designed to only be played using "all the stops out"...

:-)


:-P


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: stallion
Date: 11 Jun 07 - 05:53 AM

mmmmmm tough one, take them by the throat and tell them not to speak 'til their spoken to. Isn't that simple. thirty five years ago someone took me to one side and said there was nothing wrong with the voice but that I didn't have a "feeling" for the material. It took me years to understand that, years and years, and at the time I didn't appreciate a word of it, "who do you think you are" thought I. Anyway, be resilient and remember all of the criticism even if you don't think it is relevant 'cos one day it might be.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jun 07 - 07:00 AM

Thank you all.

For the record I have had training in acting, music, singing and storytelling. With the storytelling I am now at advanced skills stage - learning how to inegrate music and songs into my stories to create a richer experience. I get onto telling my stories quite promptly in a performance, don't waffle, try not to go on too long and try to keep to the MC's timetable.

It is possible that this performer still sees me as a novice and doesn't realise that I have come on a lot. He hasn't seen all my performances by any means and there are a number that I have been very pleased with. Recently I have been asked to run a storytelling workshop by another storyteller (waiting for more on that one). I am a fairly quiet person between performances but really come alive when I perform. I am a sensitive and emotional singer, but as a storyteller I am enthusiastic and can be quite funny, in a natural sort of way.

It is genuinely possible that this person believes he is being helpful. In fact, I find what he is doing quite destructive, particularly as he knows next to nothing about storytelling. He DOES have experience as a singer but hey, I'm a singer too and a good one!

I will have to experiment with several tacks on this one. A fairly meaningless hmm, yes, thank you. Ignore him if possible. If pushed I will suggest he use positive remarks as well as negative. What he is doing basically isn't the act of someone who is professional in his performing.

I always, always reflect on a performance and what I can learn from it and move myself forward. If his comments have any merit then I will learn from them. However, his general negivity is something I could do without.

Thank you all for taking the time to make comments and give me helpful advice. I will reread this thread and take further note of them.


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: Saro
Date: 11 Jun 07 - 12:31 PM

If you can learn how to handle negative feedback gracefully and skilfully it will stand you in very good stead in lots of circumstances. It sometimes helps to remind yourself that this is just information - nothing more - and that you and only you, have control over whether or not to take it on board and do anything about it. It is often easiest to say "Thanks, that's interesting, I'll give that some thought" or something which doesn't agree OR disagree with the critic. Then take the information away and decide later (in your own time) whether it is useful or not. That way you stay in control of the situation and are never seen as hostile, defensive or any of those equally negative things! Now, you can ignore this or use it - entirely up to you!!!
Best wishes
Saro


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Subject: RE: How to handle criticism?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 11 Jun 07 - 12:35 PM

Or you can ask in as innocent a manner as possible, "Is there anything you liked about my performance?" He might get the hint. And you might get to watch him squirm.


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