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How to offer criticism?

GUEST,EKanne 11 Feb 10 - 05:04 AM
Artful Codger 11 Feb 10 - 05:14 AM
Smedley 11 Feb 10 - 05:18 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 11 Feb 10 - 05:25 AM
Mo the caller 11 Feb 10 - 05:58 AM
MGM·Lion 11 Feb 10 - 06:02 AM
Bernard 11 Feb 10 - 06:08 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Feb 10 - 06:44 AM
SteveMansfield 11 Feb 10 - 06:48 AM
Marje 11 Feb 10 - 07:00 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 11 Feb 10 - 07:03 AM
GUEST,EKanne 11 Feb 10 - 07:07 AM
GUEST,Ed 11 Feb 10 - 07:11 AM
Dave the Gnome 11 Feb 10 - 07:17 AM
jacqui.c 11 Feb 10 - 07:46 AM
Howard Jones 11 Feb 10 - 08:24 AM
GUEST,EKanne 11 Feb 10 - 08:41 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 11 Feb 10 - 08:46 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 11 Feb 10 - 08:52 AM
Maryrrf 11 Feb 10 - 10:34 AM
Steve Gardham 11 Feb 10 - 10:34 AM
GUEST 11 Feb 10 - 10:48 AM
Tootler 11 Feb 10 - 10:48 AM
Richard Bridge 11 Feb 10 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,leeneia 11 Feb 10 - 01:03 PM
jacqui.c 11 Feb 10 - 03:15 PM
jennyr 11 Feb 10 - 03:19 PM
Commander Crabbe 11 Feb 10 - 06:58 PM
Howard Jones 11 Feb 10 - 07:12 PM
Tootler 11 Feb 10 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,Betsy 11 Feb 10 - 07:16 PM
Joe Offer 11 Feb 10 - 07:21 PM
Jack Campin 11 Feb 10 - 07:52 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 11 Feb 10 - 08:43 PM
Joe Offer 11 Feb 10 - 11:57 PM
Ebbie 12 Feb 10 - 12:30 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 12 Feb 10 - 02:52 AM
GUEST,EKanne 12 Feb 10 - 06:28 AM
Hamish 12 Feb 10 - 06:55 AM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Feb 10 - 09:16 AM
Dave the Gnome 12 Feb 10 - 09:18 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 12 Feb 10 - 09:51 AM
Dave the Gnome 12 Feb 10 - 10:04 AM
Hamish 12 Feb 10 - 10:24 AM
Aeola 12 Feb 10 - 02:30 PM
Tootler 12 Feb 10 - 04:50 PM
Commander Crabbe 12 Feb 10 - 05:52 PM
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Subject: How to offer criticism?
From: GUEST,EKanne
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 05:04 AM

Gordeanna McCulloch and I are moving on to a continuation of 3 ballad workshops we led in Glasgow in January, and we're almost at the stage of participants presenting solo performance.
We'd be very grateful to hear of anyone else's experience of either giving or receiving advice in such circumstances.
(Our group is mostly female in make-up and ages range from 20's to 60's, but the common factor is a desire to sing unaccompanied ballads, although very few members have sung in public before.)


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 05:14 AM

Glad it's not males in make-up. They don't welcome criticism from nobody. ;-}


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Smedley
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 05:18 AM

I teach (but not anything musical) and I've found over the years that if you need to point out limitations, the most helpful model is what you might call the critical sandwich - start off with something positive ('enthusiasm' is usually a safe bet, not least because your students must be enthusiastic to have volunteered their time and made the commitment), followed by constructively suggesting areas for improvement, followed (the other 'slice of 'bread' in the sandwich) by a second positive point. In the unfortunate event of two positives being difficult to locate, one can always re-phrase the first one. So sort of soft/hard/soft, though the 'hard' should be delivered in a supportive manner.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 05:25 AM

"the common factor is a desire to sing unaccompanied ballads, although very few members have sung in public before.)"

Blimey! I find that strange for some reason: lots of people all wanting to tackle unaccompanied ballads, but with zero prior experience of singing! Where do these people come from?

I was singing out for over a year before deciding I felt it was the right time to tackle something more substantial (hence the ballad thread here).

CS - who just this morning recieved a wee gift of a package from a fellow Mudcat poster containing 3 discs worth of Irish ballads, English ballads and Muckle Sangs! And is smiling :-)


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 05:58 AM

I went to a Caller's workshop at Whitby which gave us all the chance to call a dance in a big Ceilidh in the Spa. I don't remember whether we were given any general criticism (no-names-no-pack-drill), but Martyn Harvey saw us all privately afterwards (not on the same day, he said we'd still be too 'high' then) for a discussion. His approach was "how do you think you did?", I had two things that I knew I didn't do as well as I would have liked, one I noticed almost as I was doing it, one on thinking about it. He gave his own comments too, but amplified one that I'd said.

I think people are more likely to learn from something they almost know anyway. If you tell them something they don't realise they are doing wrong they may be defensive. But if you can give tips to overcome something they've already noticed it will help.

The privacy is good too.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 06:02 AM

The great Johnny Mercer, as so often, gives us the guidelines —

~~You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative ~~~

or if you can't quite eliminate the negative, soften it as far as honesty permits ~~ & ALWAYS accentuate the positive.

I have worked in my time professionally both as teacher and as critic, & in both capacities have ever tried to take this advice as my watchword.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Bernard
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 06:08 AM

I suppose it depends on whether the recipient is expecting criticism or praise...

Ideally, there should be a tactful balance of both. Not to the point where you build someone up then shoot them down - it's often better to criticise and follow with praise.

Getting the balance right takes experience. Always remember you can end up doing more harm than good... my education tutor always reminded us at college to 'teach the pupil from where he is at' (deliberate bad grammar to make it memorable).

Your job is to massage the person's ego in such a way as they will become better at whatever you are trying to teach.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 06:44 AM

As MtheGM said - balanced criticism is the most effective
Always remember that those who consider themselves above criticism are invariably poor singers and will probably never improve.
Also remember that field singers are not in our particular loop - and should they be dead, neither are their families (a lesson not yet understood by a nameless internet magazine, if a recent review is anything to go by).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 06:48 AM

Also remember that field singers are not in our particular loop - and should they be dead, neither are their families (a lesson not yet understood by a nameless internet magazine, if a recent review is anything to go by).

Now there's an interesting tease if ever I read one ...


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Marje
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:00 AM

Of course, offer praise for whatever aspects of the performance merit it. But don't go down the fashionable (dare I say, American-influenced?) route of giving only positive comments. As a singer who's been on the receiving end of contructive criticism. in a workshop, I find it a bit disconcerting if I'm not offered any actual suggestions as to what my weak points are and how to improve on them.

The important thing is that last phrase: not just "What's wrong here?" but "How could it be improved?". Offering suggestions such as "Could you try that in a higher/lower key and see how it sounds?", or "I'm not hearing all the words clearly - could you give them a bit more attention, especially at the end of lines?" or even "You don't sound quite at home using that accent/those dialect words, how can we adapt this song to suit you better?" Both praise and criticism need to be specific and precise - woolly generalisations, even positive ones, are not much help.

And of course it depends so much on the person. We all know some folk singers whose confidence far outstrips their ability, and also the ones who lack the confidence to do justice to their talents. I supsect the first group won't even bother to attend a workshop, so you need to focus on helping the singers identify their good and bad points and work at minimising the problems so that the talent can shine through and do justice to the song - and it's all about the song, isn't it? You know that already, but your budding singers may need to be reminded of it.


Marje


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:03 AM

If I were paying for such tutoring, I'd want my faults clearly highlighted by the tutor without holding back or tippy toeing around for fear of bruising my ego. Without such honest clear criticism (obviously combined with practical approaches to address weaknesses), I'd feel I'd have wasted my cash and might as well just be singing songs in a strictly social setting.

Others might be more 'delicate' (especially if brand new to singing) and prefer a less direct approach than me though ;-)


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: GUEST,EKanne
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:07 AM

Many thanks for comments so far - I'm reminded, more pithily, of useful advice I was given in my own teaching days (though more often from colleagues than from college lecturers).
Mo -- "private consultations" would obviously be a great idea, but I'm not sure if time will permit. And we've yet to discover how self-aware the participants are.
Crow Sister -- Many of our participants have been listeners in sessions for a long time, and I know that several have entered singing competitions at traditional music festivals for the feedback, rather than for possible award.
I suppose Gordeanna and I just wanted to try to replicate the supportive atmosphere of our own introduction to traditional music in the late 50's/early 60's at Rutherglen Academy Ballads Club (just outside Glasgow, Scotland) under the leadership of the late Norman Buchan. In that group, no-one was ever told they couldn't sing, and every effort -- as I realised later -- was made to find a song that would suit a person's needs and abilities, working on the theory that success in one area would build confidence to tackle other types of material.
But we were weans then, and more used to the idea of advice/criticism/being told what to do. And now we're dealing with adults, which is a different matter.
So, please keep any suggestions coming, especially the ones that you know have worked because you were on the receiving end.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:11 AM

There is, of course, the option of simply telling the truth...


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:17 AM

1. That doesn't answer the question or help in any way.

2. That is a very good point but maybe a bit of clarification on how best to break the truth to people would help. Do you have any ideas on that?

Which version of the truth do you prefer, Ed? :-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: jacqui.c
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:46 AM

I agree with Marje - constructive criticism is by far the most valuable tool in a teacher's arsenal.

I've had experience over the past ten years of that and of just plain criticism, and gained a lot more from being given advice on how to overcome voice problems. Plain criticism just leaves one discouraged and saps confidence.

Telling a person where their weaknesses lie and what to do to overcome them is, IMO, the most important thing that you can do for any pupil, child or adult. If they take the advice on board and use it then praise for the effort should be given.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 08:24 AM

People go to workshops, or to private tutors, to learn. They're expecting to be criticised, indeed demanding it. It's a bit different from just chatting to someone after a performance. However, it should be supportive and constructive criticism.

They want to be reassured about what they're doing right, and told where they're going wrong.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: GUEST,EKanne
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 08:41 AM

And thanks to all those whose posts I missed because I type so slowly!
Of course we would always start from the positive, but I'm also wondering if anyone has advice to offer on how to encourage the development of a self-critical vocabulary, so that there is something more useful to work on than "That was rubbish!", about their own efforts.

Or should we grab the bull by the horns and give out a list of possible things to listen for - pitch, pace, control of narrative, enunciation etc.?


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 08:46 AM

One thing I've found as a student (of whatever) is if I'm treated as an intelligent adult, and the teacher treats me as if they expect a good standard of performance from me, they're more likely to draw it out of me, than if they treat me 'gently' and like a child in need of constant praise.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 08:52 AM

"a self-critical vocabulary, so that there is something more useful to work on than "That was rubbish!", about their own efforts."

Umm, I'd suggest leading by example. Encouraging the cultivation of disspassionate objectivity in your students regards their own efforts, I think would be enhanced by you as teacher cutting to the chase and emphasising *technical* language from the start and actively avoiding *value laden* language.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 10:34 AM

In the workshop I took with you and Geordanna (it was at Celtic Connections) nobody sang an individual ballad, so there was no criticism per se, but the two of you seemed very nice and supportive so I can't imagine you would say anything that would be hurtful or destroy anybody's confidence. If it were that kind of a situation (and I have entered singing contests purely for the suggestions I knew I would receive for improvement) I'd expect the teacher to point out my weaknesses and offer tips for improvement. I like the idea of sandwiching the criticism with praise - pointing out the good things but then mentioning the not so good aspects. I remember one contest where I was told something to the effect of: "Your diction was good and we felt that you delivered the song well, voice was strong and you carried the story of the ballad, but we felt that you were singing as if there were a guitar or instrument in the background and not letting it flow as well as it might." That gave me something to think on and work on, and it was true. I usually sang with a guitar and that came across when I sang unaccompanied.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 10:34 AM

Have followed the thread. FWIW I'm not sure that there are any techniques that can be taught for ballad singing other than what applies to singing generally. Perhaps I've been singing them too long. I always thought the best way to learn how to sing ballads was in simply listening to others, deciding what I liked and watching audience reactions.

My very simple advice would be to turn it into a seminar and discuss in the round, interspersed with performances starting with the 'leaders' then volunteers from the 'pupils'. Another good idea would be to play recordings of some of the greats and analyse what they were doing.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 10:48 AM

Slightly inebriated audience member - "Hey Jimmy, can you take costructive criticism?"

Me - "Of course!"

SIAM - "Ye were fuckin' rubbish!"

This, with very little alteration, actually happened!

Eddie


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 10:48 AM

From a lifetime of teaching:

Smedley has the basics right.

Always try to start with a "well done" or "I liked xxxx...". In otherwords always find something positive to say about their performance, however poor overall you may have privately thought it.

You then need to identify "areas for improvement" or "things you might think about..." or something similar. In other words say how they might do something better rather than say it was poor, but as said earlier, don't be scared to point out faults. The key is to put it in terms of how they might improve.

If you know the person well, you can get away with statements like "That wasn't very good, was it?" but it can destroy someone you don't know well and who is not very confident.

I like the idea of "How do you think it went?" and quite often used that approach when discussing oral presentations by students with them.

At the end you could say something along the lines of "If you follow up these suggestions, this has the potential to be a very good performance".

Remember that teaching is a process that involves both the teacher and the learner but the onus has to be firmly on the learner to do what is necessary to achieve their aim. Your role is to provide suggestions on how they might achieve what they want to achieve and to encourage them and praise what is good in their efforts.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 11:13 AM

I suggest that jargon that is associated with schoolteachers is best avoided or if touched upon then done only with a clarity of meaning that I have seldom heard - eg

"Head voice" (student thinks, "No, the sound comes from my vocal chords and out of my mouth, can I have some of what you are smoking", and probably makes a mental picture of a bald head with lips flapping on top of it)

"Chest voice" (student thinks, "No, the sound comes from my vocal chords and out of my mouth, can I have some of what you are smoking", and probably makes a mental picture of boobs with lips flapping in between)

"Sing from your diaphragm" (student thinks, "No, the sound comes from my vocal chords and out of my mouth, can I have some of what you are smoking, that's a very old fashioned form of contraception anyway and wouldn't I need to lie on my back with my legs in the air") - if that sort of stuff is to make sense rather than conveying an intent to make a folksong singer over as a sub-opera singer it needs a lot of explanation about columns of air vibrating inside organ pipes and what happens if one end of a guitar string is mounted on a soft pad rather than a hard saddle.

"Clarity and Diction" (student thinks, "Oh shit I can just hear my mother sounding off about the Rolling Stones "Oh, they really have darkie rhythm but I can't stand their common squalling voices and I can't understand a word they say. Why can't they speak properly?".") NB that is an actual quote from my late mother.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 01:03 PM

If you want people to come back to your workshops, then don't criticize. Nobody wants to be criticized in public, and you don't know these people well for them to trust you.

Not to mention that it's very hard to convey what it is you find wrong. (I was at a workshop once where a teacher tried to convey in several different ways what she didn't like about my playing. None of it meant a thing to me. I finally decided to ignore it all.)

Instead, give them good and bad examples to listen to. It is much easier to take criticism of a third party, especially a third party who willingly did a bad job for teaching purposes.

Then urge the singers to record themselves at home and listen in private. Are they happy with how they sound? In the final analysis, that's what matters.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: jacqui.c
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 03:15 PM

There is a great deal of difference between criticism per se and constructive criticism. In a teaching workshop I would be disappointed if the leader did not point out where I could do better - that is the whole point of going.

In general, if these people have been listening to others singing ballads in the past they will have got an idea of what is good and bad, what they are looking for now is an idea of what to do to be able to sing their chosen songs to the best advantage.

I can tell you, from personal experience, that I was unaware of a particular problem I had until Lisa Null was kind enough to give me some first class constructive criticism, which helped me improve my voice a lot. I did not find any problem in taking on board the advice of a first class teacher in a public group - those who do maybe shouldn't be looking for this sort of workshop.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: jennyr
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 03:19 PM

I recently did a singing course which was delivered as a weekly 'master class', so we each got to hear each other's critique - which sounds a bit like what you're proposing, I think?

One of the things the teacher was really good at was identifying what each person needed. So some people were coached mostly around singing technique, some around confidence (or at least appearing confident), some around storytelling, some around musicality... It was really helpful to have a chance to go back and do a bit again as well, straight away, to put the tips into practice before we forgot them.

In terms of helping people to develop self-critical vocabulary, partly you do that by modelling precise and constructive criticism. We also had a few times when we were asked to comment on each other's performances - obviously when we'd reached a stage where the teacher knew we wouldn't destroy each other's confidence!

I agree with Smedley above, with the (perhaps obvious) addition that the positive comments need to be genuine - false praise can be really obvious and more off-putting than criticism. At the risk of being contentious, I think 'enthusiasm' is a fairly luke-warm complement and I'd be gutted if that was the best a tutor could come up with to describe my performance!


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Commander Crabbe
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 06:58 PM

Carefully!

I try to get people to critique themselves by first asking them to score themself out of ten and then ask them what they thought was good and bad about their performance.

This enables you to offer ways to improve on both the good or the bad.

This works with most people. However, you always have to be aware of those who are so bad they think they are brilliant and cannot comprehend that they need to improve!

And those who just cannot accept criticism from anyone.

It also helps if you can put yourself in their relative position.

After all I was there myself at one time and I'm still learning.

CC


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:12 PM

Leenia, I disagree 100%. Why would you go to a workshop and not want to be criticised? That's the whole point. Even if the tutor told me "that's very good" I'd want to know how to make it better. That's what I'm paying for.

Presumably the students are not happy with their sound. They've gone to the workshop to find out how to improve, not to be told to go away and work it out for themselves.

Of course, demonstrating can get a message across better than words, especially if the student lacks the technical language to understand what is being said, or lacks the technique to put it into practice.

If you're going to attend a workshop of the type where you're going to be criticised in front of the others then you do need to be fairly robust and go into it with the right attitude. If you can't handle it then stick with one-to-one lessons.

I think you're missing the point of what workshops are for.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:15 PM

I think leeneia is wrong when she says don't criticise. People go to workshops expecting to be criticised so that they can improve. Of course what they are looking for is constructive criticism - ie advice on how they can improve.

At least that is what I am looking for.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: GUEST,Betsy
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:16 PM

It all depends on, who and how, the critique is delivered. You must consider critiscism very closely from pople who know you well. I'm sure many of us are self critical in the first place ! I liked Mo the Callers scenario whereby the Caller seems to have dealt with the matter in a contructive manner . When you have no control over the critique it could end up like this, which is a most unstaistfactory way of dealing with criticism: -

HE COULDN'T SING, HE COULDN'T CLOWN,
NO, - HIS ART IT WAS IN PUTTING PEOPLE DOWN,
HE COULDN'T PLAY, BUT HE COULD WRITE,
AND WITH HIS PEN HE WENT AND BROKE A HEART LAST NIGHT.

                                     2.
HE SITS ALONE, WITH BLINKERED VIEW,
DOESN'T KNOW THE HOURS OF PRACTISE PEOPLE DO,
TO PLAY THE SONGS, - TO GET 'EM RIGHT,
HE SIMPLY TOOK HIS PEN AND BROKE A HEART LAST NIGHT.

CHORUS / REFRAIN                                                                                    
                                       
WELL IT'S A MYSTERY TO ME., - HOW THE CRITIC" FORMED" YOUR MEMORY,
NOW ARE YOU TELLING ME, YOUR EYES AND EARS DECIEVED YOU!!

                                        3.
HE NEVER HEARD THE CROWDS' APPLAUSE,
AND AS THEY MADE THEIR EXIT THROUGH THE THEATRE DOORS,

HE NEVER SHARED THEIR WILD DELIGHT,
INSTEAD, HE TOOK A PEN AND BROKE A HEART LAST NIGHT.

                                        4.
TO READ HIS WORDS - THEY MADE NO SENSE,
THEY NEVER MATCHED OUR RECOLLECTION OF EVENTS,
ONLY FOOLS BELIEVE, WHAT BIGGER FOOLS WRITE!      

TAKE CARE THE CRITIC'S BREAKING HEARTS AGAIN TONIGHT.,   

(Almost repeat of the previous 2 lines :-)
ONLY FOOLS BELIEVE, WHAT BIGGER FOOLS WRITE!

TAKE CARE THE CRITIC'S CHANGING MINDS AGAIN TONIGHT.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:21 PM

Lisa Null always said what a wonderful singer I was, and I have to say that what she said did a lot to make me work harder on my singing.
And then a couple of years ago, I asked her what she really thought of my singing. Well....THAT answer was a little harder to take.
But still, she said some nice things, and that made me feel better.

-Joe-

P.S. Betsy, it's nice to see you back. Did you write this just now, or is it an older song?


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:52 PM

I've taught instruments a bit. What I found myself doing was very rarely finding fault with anything ("stand up straight, you can't breathe like that" being an exception), but instead I made suggestions about how specific actions would lead to particular results - "that will sound more danceable if you keep the tempo steadier", that sort of thing.

Maybe for ballad singing, that would translate into comments like "people will follow the story better if you don't go all-out to emphasize the most dramatic lines", "going a bit faster will mean you don't need to take a breath there".

You really don't want people's mental focus to be on what has gone wrong or might go wrong - that way lies the Imp of the Perverse. You want them to be thinking about how to do it right. There isn't usually room in the human attention span for both. "Accentuating the positive" is mainly for cognitive reasons rather than ethical ones.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 08:43 PM

Situation says everything.

The standard "quick teach" (30 seconds or less) is frequently referred to as "The Balonia Sandwich." (Assuming of course ... you are in an epistomological profile ... to be a mentor)

The "sandwich" is based on the psychological foundation that...the "ego" wants to protect itself. Anything first perceived as "criticism" is b blocked to "protect the self-image."

Therefore, (in coaching - or changing behavior) one must first preface the correction with a postive (and correct) observation.

The desired modification is then noted and explained.

It must then be followed with a second positive observation.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

This "sandwhich" is useful in the western cultures.....reports from some managers .... in African and Mid-East positions report that...."Only The First GOOD report is heard" and may boost the ego to such a stratosphere .... NOTHING will change behavior ... as the original comment is thrown back again and again.

Max and Joe work well with the first catagory


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 11:57 PM

I'm going to have to think about that a while, Garg. I believe it wasn't a compliment...and all this time, I thought you understood me.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Ebbie
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 12:30 AM

I have a personal problem with the 'sandwich' approach. When one has read that advice all one's life, it comes across as a canned formula. I would far rather have a person speak his or her opinion honestly.

And I try to do the same.

I have noticed, all other things being equal(the person has an "ear", wants to come across well, has a good approach) that if the instructor says something like, I like the way you present the song- it is obvious that you have 'entered' into it. But I think your voice would project better or resonate more in a different key, the next time 'round the results will be better.

(And it is also a good way to become comfortable with the concept of transposing.)

When the chosen key is too low, a voice tends to be mushy or muddy; when the key is too high, the voice can be thin. But if it's just right, there is clarity and there is a bit of an edge to the song.

It is my operating belief that the key that one is most comfortable in and chooses by instinct is probably a key too low. Try the next one up, sometimes even just a half step. Can make a tremendous difference.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 02:52 AM

"From: Jack Campin - PM
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 07:52 PM
I've taught instruments a bit. What I found myself doing was very rarely finding fault with anything ... I made suggestions about how specific actions would lead to particular results - "that will sound more danceable if you keep the tempo steadier", that sort of thing."

I think such a pragmatic approach would work well for sensitive types but still be useful to those who want feedback on weaknesses needing work. The student's weaknesses are expressed implicitly in such a statement - so the student knows what's up - but most importantly the emphasis is on providing the student with a set of *tools* with which to address their weaknesses.

Otherwise the person who suggested throwing the question 'how do you think that went?' back at the singer sounds a good idea. Get *them* reflecting upon and analysing their own performance, and their stregths and weaknesses, from get go.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: GUEST,EKanne
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:28 AM

Again, thanks for all your efforts.
As Commander Crabbe said, we're all still learning, and what motivated the original post was a fear of having settled into a rut over the years of delivering workshops - if we offer the "critical sandwich", does it come over as a sincere attempt to show appreciation while also giving advice, or will it be perceived as the "canned formula" etc?
I think/hope that Gordeanna and I are tuned in to what our participants are expecting as a group and as individuals, but it never pays to be complacent.
And we want to get this RIGHT, if it's to continue to perform a useful function.

NB This is not a 'Thank you and goodnight' sign-off -- if there are any other good ideas or
      big no-no's, please keep them coming!


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Hamish
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:55 AM

All of the above (so I won't repeat it). One expansion of an earlier suggestion which I've witnessed at work. After each performance everybody has to make one positive comment and one aspect for improvement. If it's set out at the start that they're the rules then everyone is ready for it.

However, the temptation is to hold back on the "aspects for improvement", hoping that the others will reciprocate when it's their turn.

It can work; especially if there are a dozen or so people and, say, nine of them offer variations of the same observation.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:16 AM

I stand by what I said upthread. Don't criticize. Instead, give examples from other people. Tell the students to record themselves and listen. Let them do their own criticizing.

There's too much criticism in our culture today. Every columnist has to criticize. There's also a strong force that tells people not to make their own music. "Shut up and buy recordings from the APPROVED performers!" - that's the modern way of life. Thus it's too easy for somebody's 'constructive criticism' to be construed as a message that I'm no good.   

Also anybody who has to ask how to criticize probably lacks the huge range of social and verbal skills to carry off the constructive criticism of strangers.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:18 AM

One thing I would add. Take a mallet for those incapable of understanding ANY criticism;-)


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:51 AM

"There's too much criticism in our culture today."

Actually I think there's far too little criticism *where it counts*. If you've seen X Factor you'll see that some of the applicants are totally shite, yet because no-one's ever said so much as 'umm you need to work remembering the words/holding the tune/keeping the rythm' to them, they are stunned at being rejected.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 10:04 AM

Oh yea - or failing a mallet - take Simon Cowell:-)


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Hamish
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 10:24 AM

anybody who has to ask how to criticize probably lacks the huge range of social and verbal skills to carry off the constructive criticism of strangers

Au contraire: I think the original poster has demonstrated that they do have the skills, tact and awareness to be able to be constructive. And the humility to know that there may be new techniques that they can add to their repertoire. It's those who think are already perfect who probably are furthest from being so.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Aeola
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 02:30 PM

Some excellent advice!! Just remember it's how you say it. The most unwelcome criticism, even if it's true, can be put in a positive and helpful way and the correct tone of voice.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Tootler
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 04:50 PM

From: GUEST,leeneia - PM
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:16 AM

I stand by what I said upthread. Don't criticize. Instead, give examples from other people. Tell the students to record themselves and listen. Let them do their own criticizing.

There's too much criticism in our culture today. Every columnist has to criticize.


It's not so much that there is too much criticism, more there is too much blaming and putting down.

"Instead give examples from other people" strikes me as one form of constructive criticism - along the lines of "If you do it like this ... you might find you'll get better results"


There's also a strong force that tells people not to make their own music. "Shut up and buy recordings from the APPROVED performers!" - that's the modern way of life.

Too true!!!!!!

Thus it's too easy for somebody's 'constructive criticism' to be construed as a message that I'm no good.

Properly framed constructive criticism does not do this. I was told for years "You can't sing" and I believed them. Then I went to a workshop and at one point was told I was singing a fifth low. The tutor suggested that may have been what prompted the comment "You can't sing" because, without realising it, I was singing a harmony. That helped me to realise that I can sing and it was the start to finding the confidence to stand up and sing. Without someone pointing out what I was doing wrong - i.e. criticising, I would not have gained that confidence.

Also anybody who has to ask how to criticize probably lacks the huge range of social and verbal skills to carry off the constructive criticism of strangers.

Now there's a piece of negative criticism if ever there was one and a huge and unjustified assumption. I would suggest that a person who asks this question is someone aware of the lack of a skill they need. This is the first and most important step in rectifying that lack. They may well have the basic skills required but need to learn how to deploy them effectively.


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Subject: RE: How to offer criticism?
From: Commander Crabbe
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 05:52 PM

Further to the above, you also have to be very careful when dealing with younger people. It is a lot harder to build confidence than it is to destroy it. What you say can stay with them and affect them for years.

CC


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