You’ve been studying music for a while now, but you’re not sure how “good” you really are.
You want to ask family and friends, but they might tell you only what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear.
You want to upload a video of yourself performing on YouTube, but you’re not sure the comments there will be helpful, either.
Do any of these sound familiar? You may have heard about the importance of feedback and it’s true: receiving commentary is an important part of becoming successful at anything, including playing music. That being said, it can be difficult to know where the most helpful source for constructive criticism will be.
So what’s a budding musician to do? Start with the 4 ideas below.
1. Share Your Work
First things first: you have to be willing to put yourself out there and share your work with someone before you can ever receive comments. It can be scary laying your work out bare for the first time, but believe in yourself and the practice time you’ve put in.
Take a deep breath. Play your instrument in the best way you know how. Use a high-quality tool to record yourself. Upload your files to sites where music lovers lurk, like Soundcloud and ReverbNation, and share them on your social networking sites. If you’re still feeling nervous, you can always upload anonymously using a pseudonym.
Don’t be discouraged if the comments don’t trickle in right away. After all, it takes time to build a following online. If you keep producing and uploading your best work, people are bound to notice.
2. Give and You Shall Receive
If you want others to give you feedback, they need to have a reason to do so. After all, why should they go out of their way to help a random stranger on the Internet? What’s in it for them?
Since the people who are most likely to give you good feedback are fellow musicians, they’re the ones you need to look for online and build relationships with. Find them on social networking sites and write meaningful comments on their videos or sound files. When you leave your feedback, mention something along the lines of, “I’m a musician, too. If you have time, I’d appreciate it if you check out my channel!” Don’t forget to leave them a link back to your music!
3. Prepare for Constructive Criticism
It’s never easy to listen to criticism. After all, human brains are hardwired to be negative. But if you want people to be comfortable giving you constructive criticism, you have to be comfortable receiving it as well.
Read pointers on how to receive feedback. Tell people that you appreciate “honest and constructive” criticism about your work. Think about criticism as a point of discussion regarding your craft rather than a comment about you as a person. Don’t forget to thank people for giving you feedback – positive or otherwise.
4. Join a Community
Just because you’re a self-taught musician doesn’t mean you have to be alone every step of the way. Even the greatest of the greats owe their success to a mentor or two.
Sign up to be part of online and offline communities of musicians. Create the best work you can and share it with fellow community members. Build good relationships by encouraging meaningful, genuine conversations. Be a great musician and an even greater human being. When you’re ready, find your own music mentor.
Getting feedback doesn’t have to be difficult. When you’re willing to give criticism, receive it in return, and connect with people who share your interests, feedback will come to you when you feel you need it most.
How do you get helpful, reliable, and constructive feedback on your music?
Share in the comments below!
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