So you’ve noticed that you’re getting tired of hearing people say things like they enjoyed your performance or they like your voice. You’ve also noticed that it tends to be the sort of things you hear from friends, family, and the occasional kind stranger.
You want to get some truly, helpful, critical feedback. You’ve thought about getting a group of some kind together for sharing songs, but it’s hard to pull a group together for the sake of soliciting criticism. It’s not that you don’t want feedback. You’re just not sure how to give criticism. You’re also not sure about what sort of filters you need to engage so you know what to listen for when receiving critical feedback.
From The Audience Perspective
As a relatively new singer you may feel you don’t have anything of value to offer others because you’re still learning. But the most valuable feedback comes from an audience member’s reaction to the song, song set, voice, arrangement, and so on. So, think like you’re in the audience.
Some responses may be more detailed because of levels of training and expertise. But that gut reaction, that emotional response that comes down to liking or not liking something, it is still of great value. It is the starting point, the foundation upon which any real critique stands and rests.
Q’s For A’s
After hearing a song or viewing a performance, stop and think. How did it make you feel? Why do you feel this way? What moved you? Was it the words of the song and the pictures it painted? What is the melody or arrangement? Was it the performance? Was it all of these things? Did it strike a chord in you emotionally? Can you relate personally? Are there things you would change or play with? Why would you advise someone to look into these changes?
Elaborate To Navigate
You want to move past the initial like or don’t like type of response. You don’t need to be an experienced, seasoned, trained artist to recognize aspects of a performance that worked or didn’t work. Basic common sense rules of communication apply. Did the situation of the song hit home or seem plausible given its story and setting and circumstances? Did the singing of the lyrics seem natural or appropriate for the style and setting of the song? Did the singer clearly deliver the message of the song? Did the singer pull you in or turn you off, and in what ways? And the, ask yourself, why?
Keep Asking Why
For every response you have, ask yourself “why is it” or “why do I think that?” Then, ask yourself what you would do differently or what you could see and hear the singer doing differently. But, be prepared to explain why you feel that way, if possible. Sometimes we feel things and aren’t sure why. But by stating them it can prompt a healthy, helpful discussion.
When you receive feedback, thank the person offering kind or challenging words. Then, ask them what specifically moved them or put them off. Ask what they enjoyed. Ask them how a song or your entire performance made them feel. Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions to get some specifics so that you know what worked and what you need to work on for the future.
Prepare a few key questions that you can ask after your performance that are related to gauging whether or not your show has been a success. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish and what you want the audience to take home with them from your performance. Let your post-performance questions serve as a poll to rate how you’ve done. Let these questions serve as a springboard to solicit specific feedback that will help you continue to grow in the pursuit of your singing success.
Praise To Raise Awareness
It is important to remember that critiquing is not necessarily about tearing down or finding fault with a performance. If it’s wonderful, let them know! This is something any artist needs to hear. Just be sure to be as detailed as possible about what made the song, song set, singing, or overall performance so wonderful for you.
If you don’t tell the singer what you think is good, they may not be aware of what worked. Telling them what was successful or wonderful helps the singer know what’s working, and it helps you become more aware of things to apply to your singing and performance skills.
Constructive Not Destructive
If you think something was horrible, remember to critique the performance or material and not the performer. Preface comments with a positive. Offer genuine compliments about things you liked before launching into what didn’t work or fell short for you.
Frame your critique with positives. Start off with something you enjoyed; then go into the constructive elements of the critique. Finally, follow your critique with another positive point of the performance or singing style.
Keep Learning From Others
The more you engage in critiquing and assessing your work and the work of others, the more skilled you will become. There is much to be learned by critiquing the performance and vocal skills of other singers that will have a positive impact on the quality of your work.
Give specific feedback when solicited from others. Solicit feedback from others so that you can develop your gift to its fullest potential as you pursue your goals for singing success.