On Critique


"You should have your left foot closer to the pedals."

"You should have played Liszt instead of Chopin."

"You're very musical but you have zero technique."

"You have a good technique but no personality."

"Your playing is way too robust for such a delicate piece."

"You had no dynamic range whatsoever."

"You're not together even with yourself."

"You have to start developing your personality to a different direction."

"I'm sure you understand why **** deserved to be in the finals instead of you."

"You play like a schoolgirl."

"Your final exam was way too easy. It shouldn't have qualified at all."

"It's been so frustrating to teach you, because you don't seem to be able to learn the simplest things."

We all have a Library of Hurtful Quotes; these are a random selection from mine. There have been master classes after which I've cried in the toilet, and competitions after which I've wanted to quit playing. So often I've thought I'll never be good enough. And yet I play. The schoolgirl without personality who can't learn anything. I play.

As performing musicians we get criticized a lot. Some of it we need, and some hurts like hell. Sometimes these two apply to the same comment. I could give you the context of each of the quotes from my collection - which of them I thought I deserved, and which felt totally uncalled for - but I won't. Instead I'm asking you to share some quotes from Your Personal Library with me. What kind of sentences do you hear in your head when you're not sure of yourself? And how do you shut them out?

I'm still learning how not to give a fuck. Taking advice from Nike my goal is to just do it, and take in critique only from those colleagues and friends whom I trust, and who are sincerely trying to help me. And while I'm trying to get there, it would really help if the Whole Classical Music Industry had more warmth and tolerance to it. So please, share a quote or two and remember: a kind word here, an encouraging word there, and who knows, maybe someone will return the favour when you need it the most.