I was recently browsing the ‘Composer’s Corner’ over at PianoWorld. It’s a place where pianist/composers can ‘lay bare’ their work for the scrutiny of others.
This is done a lot in the classical music world. And it can be very useful for feedback. The budding composer is told that this or that about the harmony. Melody may be picked apart as well as the entire composition itself.
The purpose of the scrutiny is for the budding composer to grow. But I have a problem with this and it has to do with the word ’art.’
You see, you really can’t improve on art and here’s why -- it’s unique and original in the moment it was created. No two pieces will be the same. Each one a perfect representation of the artist’s inspiration. Each one a stepping stone to the next and so on.
If the purpose of critique is improvement, I have to ask “what is being improved?” The answer, of course, is technique. And technique, while important, shadows in importance when compared with the artist’s capacity to trust themselves and what comes out of them.
By asking others if this or that can be improved, what you’re really doing is giving others permission to tell you what they think is good, bad, etc. And this usually is not very useful.
For example, how helpful would it be if I told you I didn’t like a certain harmony you used and suggested something different. Or, suppose I took a listen to your music and said “the melody doesn’t do it for me” or anyone of a thousand suggestions I could possibly give.
By trusting yourself … by giving yourself permission to create without judgment, you won’t need others opinions on whether something can be improved or not. You will bypass the need to garner approval and reap the rewards of this - the ability to create unfettered!
Edward Weiss is a pianist/composer and webmaster of Quiescence Music's online piano lessons. He has been helping students learn how to play piano in the New Age style for over 15 years and works with students in private, in groups, and now over the internet. Visit now and get a FREE piano lesson and 342 page book!