Sometimes when we work together as a group, coming to a decision together can be lengthy and difficult at best. Keeping our wits about us and our emotions in check is a huge challenge. I believe this to be especially true for those working in creative fields such as the arts. So why is it that difficulties arise? Why aren’t we free to just say what’s on our minds? We have no problems telling the ones we love just how we feel, and we have so much more invested in those relationships, generally speaking.
In music, criticism is a very difficult thing to hear. For those of us who perform for a living, it can be devastating and crippling, especially when we hear what we don’t want to hear. There must be a balance in a working situation. Tenderness should not be confused with tact, yet tact is more important to exercise in a delicate situation. There is always a way to say what’s on your mind without pissing off the folks around you. But the struggle for balance between emotion and intention goes on.
When we perform or practice an art form, if we do it well, we are usually connected very personally to our product. There’s no one way to do anything, since art is subjective to the listener, viewer, or the observer in every capacity. What is good to one may be hideous to another. Therefore, when we criticize on any level, whether it be a positive or negative tier, we must practice tact if our goal is to maintain friendship and professionalism. Why burn a bridge, or damage it, even? If you don’t care, pillage away! But don’t be surprised when you have your tail caught somewhere down the line – that’s just good, old-fashioned karma at its finest! Personally, I believe in karma, and I’m not willing to throw my friends or colleagues under the bus for anything. This doesn’t mean that everything needs to be sugar-coated – it doesn’t. It also doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t feel upset from time to time. Anger and frustration are real, human emotions, and should be allowed to be expressed in the right situations. But there is a way to get your point across while sparing damage to another person.
In the game of music, we are all on the same side when we stand on the same side of the stage. Our goal as individuals is the same: to make great music. Even when we don’t agree, our goal does not (or should not) change. We feed off of one another for musical energy and inspiration. When it is absent, our hands become tied. Music, after all, is a very interactive art form. Having to manufacture energy often results in just that: mechanical music. That never feels good to the musician or the listener. But without the ability to discuss our challenges, we are shut down and musically immobilized, whether it comes from a reluctance to compromise, or a blanket statement that basically instructs us to “just deal with it”. Openness must be maintained in groups, even if it hurts the ego a little. Therefore, it’s imperative that artists learn how to talk to one another, as well as how to listen to one another. The underlying thought that must be maintained is that everyone wants the same thing: to create powerful and beautiful music. So how do we go about it? In the most friendly and noninvasive way as possible..
So take care how you speak to one another. Stepping on the creative process hurts some deeply, as do limitations placed on one another by “blanket” statements. Emotions are not just heart felt, but head felt as well. When someone gets their heart poked, it stabs at their brain, too. Criticism of one’s music is criticism of their soul, for most. Let’s try to remember that we are all capable of feeling pain. When we disrespect one another, we stagnate the process of bearing the personal side of music. Yes, we’re still all on the same side, and we still care for each other and our creativity. Respect and hone art together, not apart. Take care to treat your peers with respect and love, so that they might shine, too. We all have so much to say after all, not just with our words, but also with our music. Play on, and just have fun! That’s why it’s called “playing” music, remember?