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How to get genuine feedback?

Andy7 14 May 17 - 08:02 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 14 May 17 - 08:41 PM
leeneia 14 May 17 - 10:30 PM
michaelr 15 May 17 - 01:40 AM
BobL 15 May 17 - 02:48 AM
Will Fly 15 May 17 - 04:08 AM
Mr Red 15 May 17 - 06:19 AM
leeneia 15 May 17 - 12:53 PM
Jackaroodave 15 May 17 - 03:24 PM
Joe Offer 16 May 17 - 02:43 AM
Will Fly 16 May 17 - 03:32 AM
GUEST,Desi C 16 May 17 - 06:45 AM
leeneia 16 May 17 - 11:46 AM
GUEST, Mg 16 May 17 - 01:27 PM
leeneia 16 May 17 - 10:41 PM
The Sandman 16 May 17 - 11:00 PM
meself 17 May 17 - 01:06 AM
Will Fly 17 May 17 - 04:02 AM
Will Fly 17 May 17 - 04:13 AM
GUEST,Andiliqueur 17 May 17 - 04:48 AM
Will Fly 17 May 17 - 04:51 AM
GUEST,matt milton 17 May 17 - 05:17 AM
GUEST,matt milton 17 May 17 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,Grishka 17 May 17 - 09:21 AM
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Subject: How to get genuine feedback?
From: Andy7
Date: 14 May 17 - 08:02 PM

One problem with the Folk World - although, to be fair, it's rather a nice 'problem'! - is that everyone is so supportive, when you sing or play, that it can be difficult to get genuine feedback.

Was my singing/playing okay? Was the volume/speed/accompaniment appropriate? Did I connect with the audience enough? Yes, yes, and yes! You were excellent! Amazing!

But how good was I, actually? Which songs/tunes did you all enjoy, and which not so much? Which songs/tunes were fun, and which were boring? These are the questions that are difficult to find answers to, when audiences are so kind and supportive!

So ... what is the best way to get genuine, constructive feedback, which might help us to continue developing our musical and performance skills, while not destroying our fragile egos?


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 14 May 17 - 08:41 PM

Listen to your own performance recordings.

Most musicians are their own most critical critics.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Listen to the audience background noise...you know when you have them captured. You appear to be someone that "wants to be stroked" ...So that is what you get.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: leeneia
Date: 14 May 17 - 10:30 PM

Watch your audience. Do they look bored or engaged? Do they get up and walk out? How many have dozed off? Do they laugh at your jokes?
Making eye contact or not?


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: michaelr
Date: 15 May 17 - 01:40 AM

You stand in front of the speaker and turn your axe up to 11.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: BobL
Date: 15 May 17 - 02:48 AM

Plant a friend with good hearing in the audience, to listen to what people are saying amongst themselves.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 May 17 - 04:08 AM

Video yourself and put the video on YouTube - you'll get some very honest responses!


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: Mr Red
Date: 15 May 17 - 06:19 AM

record/video and watch yourself is the best one above.
That and the friend listening to comments.
otherwise you dun gotta have a strong ego to invite comment. Because opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one. And they may crap on some deliberate artistic fillip you sweated over.
And if you are going to be swayed by one person it is a narrow slippery slope you are on.
A range of comments at a song-writers' forum is useful, providing there are several comments.
Personally I prefer the "if you tried xxx" kind of kind comment.

At the end of the day - be yourself.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: leeneia
Date: 15 May 17 - 12:53 PM

Don't invite criticism over the Internet. There are people who sit at their keyboards and have a glass of booze right there. They prowl the net, looking for people to insult.

Seek comments from people you respect.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 15 May 17 - 03:24 PM

I've never performed musically ("Thank God!" says my middle school music teacher), but as a teacher, I've tried to get feedback on my performance, and I think everything Mr. Red said was valuable, especially the helpfulness of "If you tried xx" comments.

So I think it would be helpful if you tried to think of questions that would elicit specific things to work on, rather than evaluations.

If you get someone to video your performance, you will probably spot a few things you can easily work on to make your next performance a better one. (In my experience, the videos mainly confirmed bluntly what I suspected, but was hoping would get by unnoticed. This was very valuable.)

After you've reviewed your work, you can probably figure out ways of asking questions that would help you without putting your observer on the spot. Rather than, "Was my patter interesting?" you could ask, "Do you think more patter would help the mood of my performance, or would it be better to cut down in order to speed up the rhythm?"

Maybe that's a lousy example, but that's part of my point: The performer has to prepare for a feedback session. Based on your honest self-evaluation, what are the specifics you need feedback on? To answer that, consider, "What is the specific purpose of this feedback?" "What actions do I anticipate taking on its basis?" I would suggest a narrow focus on parts you think you can improve by the next performance. Make it easy for your observer to suggest, "Maybe if you tried xx."

When I neglected these points, my feedback wasn't as helpful as when I dug into them.

But as you pointed out, there's nothing WRONG with getting encouraging and supportive feedback. You'll get it, whether or not you ask "Which songs did you enjoy and which not so much?" It will just be easier to provide.

Just as you try to see your perfomance from the audience point of view, try to actively consider your observer's position and make it easy to provide comments that will help you.Observe a performance; think about what you might say to help the performer make the next one better; then ask, "What questions would make it easy for me to give this performer helpful comments?" Then apply these insights to your own case.

And keep in mind that you have a sense of your performance that you want to stay true to, no matter what anyone says. Good luck!


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 May 17 - 02:43 AM

When my performance is working, I feel a "click" of connection with the audience, and I can feel the audience in sync with me. Once I've achieved that, I can do no wrong. If I don't "click," I know I have some work to do.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 May 17 - 03:32 AM

There's another side to performing, apart from the obvious one which is concerned with the technicalities: singing in tune, singing the right tune, playing the right chords, fingering without buzzing, halting, etc., etc.

Another aspect of it all is your own "artistic integrity", which is a high-falutin' way of saying doing your own thing in your own way and sticking to it - regardless of audience reaction. You may, for example, choose to perform a particular song that speaks to you, or perform something - a tune, a song - in a very personal way. And the audience(s) may not like it.

The question arises as to whether you bow to the audience reaction, or whether you say (in so many words) "Screw you - I'm playing this because this really is the way I want to play it". That's a decision that only you can make, of course, but it's an important one.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that feedback can be valuable - but don't try and be something you don't want to be.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 16 May 17 - 06:45 AM

As a performer I can't bear to listen to myself, even a recording of me talking, so I'd not take that advice. But I do very much agree with looking at your audience. Took me many years to get to a stage where I could do that while performing, but now I can and it very much tells me if they are engaged or bored or worse of all disinterested. I can also read the applause. I well remember how Folk audiences are kind enough to clap anyone for making an effort. But you learn to recognise that as the sound of sympathy. But you also learn to recognise and strive for that wonderful sound of applause of real appreciation, so look and listen to your audience, that should be your main reason for doing it at all


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: leeneia
Date: 16 May 17 - 11:46 AM

About recording yourself: I was asked to play recorder for a friend's funeral. This was serious business for an amateur player, and I was dissatisfied with the small clicks and irregularities that I heard in my playing.

I recorded myself and discovered that they could not be heard by others. I could hear them only because I was "right on top" of the instrument. The moral: recording yourself may show that you are better than you think.
=============
About listening to the audience: where I live we have a promoter who is death on coughing, especially from the cheap seats. There is a rumor that an audience which is coughing is bored and therefore being rude. This may be true; it also may be true that in a centrally-heated hall in one of the world's worst cities for allergies, people simply have to cough occasionally to resume breathing.

Anyhow, keep that idea in mind. A lot of coughing can mean boredom.

Funny story about that: The Woman once scheduled a medieval Christmas program which went an hour without an intermission. Well, that was okay, but it also went without even one beat's rest between parts. When were we supposed to cough? Finally, finally somebody missed an entrance and there was silence, and many people coughed. And then laughed, briefly and gently of course. The performers stared at us in bewilderment, as well they might, since it was not an amusing moment in the show.

It was a moment of pan-audience community.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: GUEST, Mg
Date: 16 May 17 - 01:27 PM

Re patter..the encyclopedic stuff on song history canbe repeated but the cute stuff should be fresh...nothing worse then same patter repeated each time.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: leeneia
Date: 16 May 17 - 10:41 PM

How true, Mg.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 May 17 - 11:00 PM

"Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: leeneia - PM
Date: 15 May 17 - 12:53 PM

Don't invite criticism over the Internet. There are people who sit at their keyboards and have a glass of booze right there. They prowl the net, looking for people to insult.

Seek comments from people you respect."
    Good Advice


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: meself
Date: 17 May 17 - 01:06 AM

"...nothing worse then same patter repeated each time."

Not true - unless, possibly, you are there in the audience each time. Even then, lots of people find a quip just as funny the tenth time.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 May 17 - 04:02 AM

I can appreciate the reasons for not putting stuff up on the internet - particularly if you're a shrinking violet - though I have to say that I've posted stuff on YouTube for over 10 years now (13,000+ subscribers and 8,250,000+ views) and can count the really shitty comments on the fingers of two hands.

I've had quite a few serious and constructive reviews - some of which I agreed with and some of which I didn't. Different individuals have different points of view and we don't always coincide, but it's worth seeing them. And the anonymity actually allows people to speak their minds.

I've had a few non-critical but silly comments and one or two sexual advances - including one from a man with a huge beard who was a "bear" and wanted to be my "cub"... But, hey, that's the internet for you...

Dick, I read on the Bob Davenport thread that you dislike playing in working men's clubs - and I really understand why. I have to say that, away from the folk world, I cut my performing teeth over many years in those places - WMCs, British Legions, Trades & Labour Clubs, etc. - and I have to say that, above all, they're an education! They could be tough places to play, but they toughened me up and I wouldn't have missed the experience for the world.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 May 17 - 04:13 AM

I would just add one comment about the "finding a critical, supportive friend" advice.

No matter how close you are to somebody, it can be very difficult to offer honest criticism - because you can't gauge the reaction, and the reaction may well surprise you. I offer an example:

There's a performer in my area who goes around the various sessions and clubs from time to time. He cannot sing. He can't hold a tune in a bucket. All the melodies he sings - or rather tunelessly chants in a monotone - sound the same. Some friends of his once raised the topic with him, in a supportive and gentle way, and he very quickly became irate to the point of near violence. They were completely surprised - and regretted having offered an opinion.

Someone may ask for an opinion on their playing - but don't be surprised if they get huffy about your honesty!

As Rick Wakeman joked in one of the TV "Grumpy Old Men" programmes:

"My wife came downstairs with a red dress and a blue dress and asked me which one I preferred. When I said 'The blue dress', she snapped, 'What's wrong with the blue one?'"


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: GUEST,Andiliqueur
Date: 17 May 17 - 04:48 AM

Mr Fly,am I being pedantic or perhaps missing the point? I think that should read "What's wrong with the red one?" I speak as a woman.
Personally I would relish some constructive criticsm but I find people only say nice things when advice would be useful, even if it hurts a bit at the time. However, you have to respect the person who is giving it!


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 May 17 - 04:51 AM

Yup - typo - should have read "What's wrong with the red one?" Just put it down to age... I speak as an idiot.

And you're right - it's not always easy to give and receive honest, constructive criticism.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 17 May 17 - 05:17 AM

Ultimately I think you really need to ask a professional. If it's your guitar playing, ask a guitar teacher, if it's your singing, ask a singing teacher. Try to find someone who actually knows their folk music. There's no shortage of professional or semi-professional folk musicians out there who also give lessons (unsurprisingly, given how nobody gets rich being a folk musician!)


I would respectfully disagree with some of the comments mentioned above. I don't think I trust the differing responses posted on YouTube, in that they can vary wildly with no rhyme or reason to them.

I can't even really conclude anything from audience response at folk clubs: sometimes a song will go down extremely well, then the same song at a different folk club goes down like a lead balloon. I'll be politely tolerated/ignored somewhere and then rapturously received with the same material somewhere else. I've had one open mic organiser drunkenly ask me the damning question "have you ever thought about playing with a singer?" (I sing and play guitar); I've also had compliments on having a "great voice". No consistency.

One thought: it doesn't actually matter. If you harbour ambitions of pro/semi-pro status, then record an album and promote it and try and get gigs. See what happens. You'll soon find out if anyone likes it. If, on the other hand, all you want to do is sing floorspots and singarounds, well, chances are you're not the worst in the room by a long way.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 17 May 17 - 06:11 AM

"As a performer I can't bear to listen to myself, even a recording of me talking, so I'd not take that advice. "

This goes for pretty much every singer. But I think ultimately it holds you back. When you record an album, or single, or demo, or listen to a YouTube video of yourself, you have to listen to yourself. So I think, as performers, we actually HAVE to listen to ourselves. Grasp that nettle.

You don't have to enjoy it, you don't have to think your voice sounds amazing, but you have to at least think it sounds half-way decent.

You have to be able to identify where your pitch wanders (if it does), whether you are pacing a song properly, whether you're giving it enough lift, whether it's boring. It wasn't until I started regularly recording myself that I realised that I preferred the sound of my voice in baritone range (rather than tenor). The second that happened, I started to hate my voice a lot less.


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Subject: RE: How to get genuine feedback?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 17 May 17 - 09:21 AM

Generally, questions amounting to "How good am/was I?" or "Was I performing OK?" do not make much sense in any context. Good questions are, for example, "Should I skip verse 11?" or "Did you understand the lyrics of ...?" – you may get helpful hints. Listening to your recordings will often help you with specific technical problems such as pronunciation, intonation etc.

Of course the question remains whether your audience is seriously disappointed, and just too polite to admit it. This is normally not too difficult to find out if you really try, using the above advices. Actually most audiences take delight in being generous (– not pitiful! –), unless they have very good reasons to expect an excellent performance, e.g. paid a large entrance fee or heard you boast. Accepting generosity with dignity is an art in itself, some Asian monks devote their lives to it.


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