The art of accepting constructive criticism

Isn’t it hard for us to accept criticism, even so called “constructive criticism”? We tend to take our playing too personally as though it was a part of us.

In previous positions as concertmaster and section leader, I had to give great professional musicians criticism and witnessed how hard it was for some to take it.

Because of how critical we are, sharing our progress with others can be very difficult knowing that we could be judged the same way. We often know what we are doing wrong but must accept our imperfections to continue playing and performing.

Allthough we are in awe of great soloists we can still find flaws in their performances. Even they are not perfect. We enjoy their performances in part by choosing to hear the greatness and not focusing on the faults.
One way to accept criticism is to realize that no one is without fault and every one of us can improve.

The musicians that I have had the most respect for in my life are the ones that don’t appear to be negatively affected by criticism and actually try to do what is suggested.

I remember being impressed by opera star Dilber who was a soloist at a concert I played in Sweden a few years ago. She is extremely self critical, and spent time during the rehearsal asking orchestra musicians sitting close to her if a particular note was too high or too low, etc. She seemed sincerely concerned with doing the best job she possibly could, even though she is successful and well known.
Professional orchestra musicians are more used to divas who love to give instructions and very few that would accept advice. It’s true that big name soloists have earned the right to be pompous and that is understandable.

One of my life time goals is to become great at accepting criticism. The better we are at doing this, the more secure we are as individuals.
Whenever I can accept critique without feeling bad, I am very proud of myself for doing so. We can all learn faster if we are open to advice.

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