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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Performance Critiques

I have to confess, that even after forty-three years producing music, and multiple Grammy awards, I still get a touch of anxiety when someone evaluates my music productions.

How about you? Do you get anxious when playing or singing in front of someone who will judge your performance? Some say it’s like having “butterflies” in your stomach!

I thought about it for a long time, and I realized that having a bit of anxiety is a good thing. It keeps us on our toes, at the top of our game. I asked a bunch of well-known performers about this very thing, and it turns out that they all have that small sense of dread when they are being judged.

And, of course, our industry is 100% judgmental, 100% of the time! 

So what can you do?

First, and probably most important, believe in yourself. Validation comes from within, not from the comments of others. Remember that “Belief Is Contagious!” If you believe in you, others will, too. Just watch what happens!

Believing in yourself doesn’t mean evaluating your own performances. If you do, either you’re going to think you’re amazing or you’re going to think you’re horrible and want to quit right then and there. The truth is probably somewhere in-between.

And, don’t ask your parents, whatever you do! They’re either going to tell you you’re amazing or they’re going to think you’re horrible and ask you about your Plan B.

What you really need is a neutral third party with enough experience to communicate with you effectively without making you feel miserable about yourself. Someone with experience can be a  life-saver for you. That person, who shouldn’t have a hidden agenda, should be able to tell you the truth in such a way that it lifts you up rather than drags you down.

For me, when I evaluate a performance, I am only interested in one thing – did the performer make me believe him or  her?  Was the performer authentic? Did the performer commit to the lyric in such a complete way that the listener was drawn in to the emotion of the song.

For me, performance is perfection – not technique and certainly not technology.

Remember that a critique is simply one person’s opinion. It is not the final word on anything. And, if you ask five people to evaluate your performance, you will, most likely, receive five completely different opinions!

Along the way, ask yourself who are you singing the song for. A live show? A talent contest? Your sister’s birthday? This really assists you in song selection – a crucial component in the success of your performance.

And, finally, regardless of being judged, ALWAYS sing as if it’s your last day on this planet, and your performance will cement your legacy in the minds and hearts of your family and friends. The size of the audience doesn’t matter. The size of your heart does.

(If you see me at a future WCOPA, please come up and introduce yourself. I would love to meet you!)

About Jeffrey Weber

Jeffrey Weber has been a widely-recognized music industry professional for over forty years. He has produced over 200 albums with releases on just about every major label as well as a host of independent labels. Along the way, his projects have yielded two Grammys, seven Grammy nominations, at least seventeen top ten albums, two number one albums and an assortment of other honors. He also produces large, multi-day music festivals and is an author with four books to his credit.