Confidence in singing and taking criticism in stride
matt53 Pro Posts: 189
edited July 2014 in Psychology of Singing
I will never understand why singing seems to be the most harshly judged type of musical performance. I find that many people, including my bandmates, friends and family, will consider a musician with average playing ability as very good or even "talented," yet reserve harsh judgment for singers I would consider very good, over minor things.
Are most people just jealous of singers because singers have the confidence to sing and express their feelings?
Case in point: my friends have a mutual friend who sings alot and is regarded by girls and other people as a very good singer. My friends constantly criticize him, and I asked them why. Upon pressing further, I found that that they think he is actually very good at singing.
I realize that they are probably just jealous of his abilities and confidence and therefore look for any kind of fault to tear him down.
As a tenor choral singer at my church, I have received several compliments on my singing voice. A while ago, one lady even said I have a "beautiful voice," though I personally think I have quite a ways to go in terms of my potential technical growth as a singer. Another person (whom I am not on good terms with at all) came up to my parents and said he loves listening to me sing and that he really likes my voice.
After years of working on my singing voice, without alot of encouragement from people I know, these compliments were a much-needed confidence-boost.
When I told this story to my "best friend," something very strange happened. Instead of being happy for me, I noticed a scared look on his face and he started saying the people giving the compliments probably didn't know anything about singing.
I was a bit surprised by this, but I began to wonder if he was jealous.
Nowadays I get more compliments than criticism about my singing, but it seems that the criticism I do get comes from a place of jealousy rather than a place of constructive comments or advice.
To any singer on this forum getting insulted or criticized about singing, please realize that it will just make you tougher and that you eventually will get the recognition and compliments you deserve for your hard work and perfecting your technique.
Yes, it's true. Many compliments come from total strangers. They have nothing to lose by sharing with you that you made them feel good or that they were impressed. In fact, they feel compelled to tell you how much they enjoy your singing.
Your friends may feel threatened that you will gravitate away from their friendship to these people that you don't really know.
That's kind of silly, but singing is a very personal thing. When someone says they don't care for your singing, sometimes it can SEEM as if they are saying they don't care about or like YOU. And they may be very reserved about ever letting you or others know that they really think you are a "good" singer.
As singers, we have to have a bit thicker skin, so that when a stick in the mud shares their gloom with us, that we don't fall into the trap of being crushed.
It is really very nice when a person you've never met before goes out of their way to tell you how much they enjoy listening to your voice. The people that are made uncomfortable about that must feel insecure because no strangers are approaching them to tell them how much they are appreciated. What kind of a response is "They must not know anything about singing"??? What???
Yes, there is jealousy and insecurity involved here. And it is our job to be gracious to both the person giving compliments, and also to the person feeling insecure about us being successful with our pursuit of our vocal goals.
Ya gotta love 'em!
About the harsch criticism regarding singers, one of my friend one day pointed out that singing does not suffer too much imperfection. While we are more tolerant with musicians, we are not the same with singers. My idea is that the singer is a messenger, her/his task is very important... just a thought to ponder...
Singing takes an enormous amount of courage. There is no word available in the English language to accurately describe the courage needed to sing publicly and open yourself up to broad review and criticism. I am in awe of the guys in this forum who just lay it out on the line. Brilliant. At least on this forum you have colleagues who will give you positive advice and help, and not shoot you down.
As for the others, well .... these are the guys we are eventually trying to prove wrong by rockin their jocks off. This should be the fire in your belly that drives you to get better each day, each week, each month, each year and each decade.
Remember, as we are 'students for life', we are always going to have weaknesses in our voice, just as about every other singer on the planet, whether amateur or professional. Great singers are often great in a narrow range/aspect/style. It is important to take the criticism as an indication of where our weaknesses are, and then aim to strengthen that weakness.
I sound terrible during practice. Why? Because i'm working on my weaknesses. I don't need to practice my strengths, they're safely in the bag of tricks. I'm stretching my boundaries during practice. There is a great quote I recently read from a famous violin teacher, she said (i'll paraphrase) "if someone walking by your house can distinguish the song you are practising, then you are practising wrong". Practicing your strengths over and over again is a waste of time, you don't improve as fast as you would if you are stretching just beyond your capabilities.
I wish to share my recent experience about being harshly criticised.
We had our show on the 13th of June, we were at least 15 singers male and female each performing 2 songs in front of a small town audience, family, friends.
I sang my song with joy, ease, and I had tremendeous fun! May be the first time since I started to sing.
At the end of the show, total strangers came to see me to tell me how TERRIFIC my performance had been, that my energy was contagious... etc that they were thrilled etc,
Two days later, my singing teacher told me that I should not forget that I am only an amateur, and that my performance was "too much of this, not enough of that" and that I did not look "natural" while singing plus other harsh remarks about my outfit. I was devastated! He also added that I should not listen to what the audience say since they don't know anything about singing...
@Joyce That is just ridiculous. Get rid of your singing teacher. 80 percent of singing is confidence. Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he is not is a performer, maybe he is one of those teachers that seems to be oh so common in the vocal industry... Those who can't do, teach... Then he makes you feel bad by acting superior because of his own inferiority. Teachers should be correcting in their lessons but they should never be belittling an audiences opinion or berating a student over a performance. This is just awful. Sorry to hear about your experience. I hope you get over it. Remember singing is as much about your joy as it is to entertain others. The audience isn't full of cynical vocal instructors taking notes, it's full of people who want to be entertained and have a good time. F**%# that guy. Anyone who goes to an event purely to berate it, is clearly dealing with their own inadequacy. Unfortunately the Internet has also given these people a massive soapbox on which to stand. Some of the comments I've seen on YouTube regarding singers such as Arnel Pineda, Kelly Hanson or whomever else has happened to step into some big shoes are just poisoness.
Thank you for sharing your story. What a terrible thing that was for your singing teacher to say to you!
So your teacher thinks that the audience is a bunch of ignorant fools and only his opinion counts. And he evidently didn't think there was anything at all wrong with devastating your feelings in order to boost his own self-importance.
Do you really need to subject yourself to this clown's opinion anymore? Maybe you do, if you're in a small town and his is the only show around... But his remarks are really inexcusable, and it would be better to form a new singing group that doesn't include the Grinch as the master of ceremonies and Judge of all that is good and worthy.
He should be nurturing his students, not belittling them. That is morally wrong. He does not belong in a position of authority over singing students.
Find your joy from within, in your heart that wants to sing. Find it in the joy of those complete strangers whose hearts you touched with your voice. A vocal coach's job is to encourage, to shine a light on what is right, and to help students to have the courage to get up there in front of people and do it again and again, not make them want to quit.
You can always come here to share your stories and to find confidence in your voice. We are proud of you for your performance and for the way you gave your energy and joy up to the audience and for how they gave that back to you.
Unfortunately your singing teacher has no idea what singing is REALLY ALL ABOUT. It's in the giving and the receiving... not the discouraging and belittling.
WHAT A JERK.
Don't let him take away your spirit of joy and love of singing!
Rock on, Joyce!
@Streeter : yes, I should get rid of this teacher but he also happens to be a show organiser plus there are other singers in his group that I LOVE to sing with. Sometimes I feel that I should start my own group but it requires a lot of time which I am short of right now and also I lack experience in this activity.
Then I started KTVA and learning how to use the voice. As I started growing in my vocal development and began singing comfortably in full voice up to High C, I was puzzled to find that instead of complimenting me as my voice grew stronger and higher, this "friend" started criticizing me and giving me backhanded compliments.Ironically, what gave me confidence was compliments from people when I actually did sing in public, but the funny thing was.....these people were always TOTAL STRANGERS and staggeringly, people who did not like me at all previously.
....."It's just kind of strange how reserved some folks can be and how they can be very careful to NOT compliment you, lest ye begin to believe in yourself that yes, there IS Hope that you can sing and sing well.. unquote
EXACTLY!!! that was my experience and my feeling.
Just to let you know of what happened next, I have now officially lost my confidence when I sing in front of him and the others, the song that I delivered yesterday at the lesson was a distaster. God I could have cried , of course I am also tired, but I hope nothing is wrong with my voice . I have decided to quit training with this guy and this bunch.
The good news is that (my prayers have been heard!!) there is a new singing teacher that has just open his school,ironically just in front of the "grintch".
This young man has participated in the show "the Voice" in Paris.
I hope that my singing adventure is not over yet and that it still has something nice in store for me.
I've been singing all my life. This whole time I've also been on a constant journey to improve my voice. I have a natural ear for music that kind of defies what many people understand. I hear harmonies in my head even without music playing, and I can write melodies or incredibly odd harmonies in seconds without even thinking...when I write melodies I turn off my brain and somehow end up almost instantly coming up with 2 to 3 melodies to edit and splice. I can come up with parts for any instrument, save guitar, because my brain just can't figure out the underlying logic of guitar chords...I get chords on piano, but guitar just is weird...I like it this way though, because it forces me to need someone else to actually write a song, which I think is perfect. I also write pretty good lyrics as well, and I have a great sense for song structuring.
Now that I've patted myself on the back with my now dislocated shoulder, my big reason for joining us to get feedback and maybe help some others too. I've worked very hard to recognize my own flaws, take ownership of them, and then do everything I can to either fix said flaw or maybe set it in a more proper and healthy context to maybe transform my perception of it being a flaw to begin with. The strongest people embrace their weaknesses and can thus craft those seemingly inferior traits into positives. I've been alone pretty much my whole life, so that's why I've worked so hard to achieve that mentality...I want to constantly grow as a human being, and facing yourself head on without shame or regret always seemed like the best way to do that to me. But anyways, I'd like some feedback or criticism. I want to grow more as a singer. But I really hate when someone blatantly and cavalierly seems to just be trying to shatter my confidence...like this one guy who (even though I told I'd been on stage and recorded in my lifetime) decided to ask me if I'd ever recorded my singing and listened to it, because, somehow, (which I still can't understand how) he said that every single note I sang was flat...I was improvising an r and b sort of melody for some music he wrote, and it was my very first attempt also. Not to mention that it was my first time doing anything in music in 5 years due to my band of like 8 years turning on me and kicking me out because I was "crazy"...I actually just ended up getting the girl my drummer apparently had a thing for, and my guitarist had been jealous of me since we formed the band...I know this because of all the weird comments he (and the rest of them occasionally as well) would make to me always diminishing my role in the music writing process...they also would demand I sing things I didn't feel comfortable singing, and they played so loud that I had to scream and ended up butchering my voice for a few years until I stopped. It was a terrible situation for me, both because of self made choices (I felt like I had to grind my voice in order to sound more powerful...the constant forced screaming ended up giving me constant sinus infections and it destroyed my accuracy...but those are back now praise god), and because of the people I was working with...it was my first real band though, and we did a lot of fun shows, and it is how I learned to be a great frontman...so when I got kicked out it devastated me...(plus my living situation sucked/sucks, and my life has not had any real joy in it...it's been filled with abuse, neglect, and too many bouts with suicide, plus one almost too close to successful suicide...so Yea...). Anyways, so that guy knew I was kinda fragile and was wanting some help getting back into the groove of things, and plus, I had sat for 3 hours listening to his music and telling him my thoughts on it, which was almost all positive. Yet, I'm given one attempt to write a unique melody to something I'd heard twice, and when I did, he completely trashes everything I did and then brings my music credibility into question by condescendingly asking if I had ever actually listened to my voice on a recording (which he knew I had because I brought it up at least 5 times...). After he told me ever single note I sang was flat and I thanked him for what I at first thought was genuine criticism, he started acting super weird. He suddenly had to go pick someone up or something, so he told me I needed to leave immediately...it's like me singing made him become super stand offish...I still don't quite get it. Anyways, that comment DEVASTATED me for months...I would spend hours singing into tuners and recording myself over a song playing, so I could see how flat I was. While these exercises have ended up helping me out...it turned out that every note I sing ISN'T flat...but I can't see why that guy would tell me it is...
And we want to welcome you.
I do suggest that when you post (and everyone else, too) that we all post any given demo or wall of text, or whatever, only once in one place. When members post the same thing in more than one place, the discussion can get disjointed, sometimes people get ticked off because they think everybody is ignoring the poster, but instead they were answered in the other area, yada, yada... continuity is lost when several people respond to the post but in different places. It just works best to keep it all together.
Enough from the Posting Police.
Your story is worth telling, so I understand why you wanted to be heard. And yes, there are a lot of folks discussing the same kind of thing here that you posted about in the other area: Rude people doing rude things to people who don't deserve to be treated that way.
So if I see a lot of people chiming in here, I'll just go delete the other thread so that we can keep things a little more coherent. I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just trying to help keep the flow more contiguous.
In my current band I work with a drummer who was always looking for some excuse to rip on my singing, especially my upper high range belting which he described as "high falsetto straining." HA!
Then one day, a guest guitarist commented positively on my ability to sing Led Zeppelin and this outside approval weirdly not only seemed to silence my drummer's criticism but he also complimented me on my upper range.
I can also relate to your frustration of screaming over your loud guitarist and band.
When I started out with this band, I was oversinging like crazy because even with a PA system, I just couldn't hear myself.
It wasn't until I started using in-ear monitors that I actually started singing better with this particular group.
In the end, you aren't able and shouldn't have to fix the issues that people in your group have. Hone your singing skills and constantly improve but also try to find a band environment that doesn't include toxic people.