Feedback is something we all dread and fear but savor when it’s sweet, tasty, spicy and palatable. Whether you’re just testing your creative waters or you’re a seasoned cruise-line captain, there are times when you’d like to have a safe place where you can have your gift and talent honestly assessed.
Maybe you’re trying out some new material or you’ve added a new member to your band or new back up singer. It could be that you’re ready to try an open mike night but you want to work out a few kinks and make sure you can handle getting up in front of people.
It’s Party Time
Here’s a simple suggestion for addressing your fears, concerns, desires and performance goals: hold a private party performance by invitation only. Make sure you invite a core circle of connections, people whose opinions you value to be a part of your audience.
Once you get these people (or the majority of them) to pin down a time they could commit to, set the date and time for the event.
Also be sure to invite some people you know who will come simply to give you support, whether you suck or soar. Include people you know that are connected to the music business in some way (coaches, directors, production assistants, gofers, artists, maybe even hosts of local open mike nights). You may want to make this non-industry people only. It depends on your goals and your level of comfort. You can even invite your favorite neighbor or family member who thinks you can do no wrong and will defend you to the death against your critics. This can even help your critics to be more specific with their feedback and offer suggestions for improvement. You want people to have a good time and feel free to share what they liked and maybe would like to see more or less of.
Create comment cards to distribute at the end of the evening with your contact information included. Ask a variety of questions such as: What worked? What did you enjoy most? What songs or types of music would you like to hear me sing? What did you like or not like about my stage presence? What is it about what you saw and heard that you can relate to? What turned you off? What would you like to see more of?
You can hold a critique over desert and wine or whatever, or hold a critique later on.
Fresher is better because so much of what is engaged is spontaneous in the performing arts. The goal is to keep the party atmosphere so that people are not prompted to be so critical that they don’t sit back and enjoy the performance.
Share Your Heart
World renowned singer Maura O’Connell once said that one of the things she enjoyed most about growing up in Ireland was that people often gathered at pubs and even in backyards to share songs, poems and stories. “They would say, I have it on my heart to share the following song,” she said. “And then they would, and when they were done, someone else would stand up and share their heart.”
O’Connell is one of those rare artists that can interpret a song almost as if she has written it herself. Check her out at www.mauraoconnell.com.
It’s important to keep your heart at the forefront of your gift, even as you seek feedback. It is those comments that are expressed from the heart that will carry the deepest meaning and have the truest impact in the long run.