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Believe Them – Don’t Believe Them

Understand the true meaning of your performance feedback –says Mister Tim

Here’s the thing: people will say nice things about you.

To stay happy, DON’T BELIEVE THEM.

Or rather, believe them, but be careful how you believe them.

Honest words are not always accurate. Nice words are not always honest.

Understand the Context

Just because someone says something does not make it so, even if they think it is so.

Comments and feedback must always be judged by perspective and context: who is saying it, why are they saying it, how does what they are saying fit into a larger perspective? (Check out this page for some examples)

No one will ever seek you out after a performance and tell you how terrible it was. The people who hated what you did will just go home.

Anyone who is going to speak to you face to face after a show is going to compliment you.

Most people who come to hear you perform are already your fans, so they are hardly objective observers.

Enjoy their compliments, appreciate that these people really are speaking their truth, but don’t think that means you are the best thing ever.

Getting Accurate Feedback

Friends and family in particular want you to feel good. That’s great! They are supportive, and they should be!

But that means they may not be the best source for accurate feedback. They don’t want to hurt your feelings, nor should you demand brutal honesty from them and put them in the position where they might hurt your feelings.

Let them be supportive and positive, and seek out feedback and coaching from a professional.

Professionals are always working to get better, which means they are constantly doing the difficult and uncomfortable work of identifying the flaws in themselves and working to make them better.

Professionals have also been doing it for a long time, so don’t think that your natural talent is going to trump their natural talent plus years (or decades) of hard work.

So enjoy the compliments, and believe them… to a point.

Believe that you made someone’s day brighter, which means you are succeeding to some degree in your mission to share music. Compliments are usually sincere.

But be very, very careful what conclusions you draw from the compliments, lest you set yourself up for disappointment or become negatively warped by the positive attention.

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vid

Meghan – Rolling in the Deep (cover)

Super work, Meghan! You are very brave and have a strong, developing voice. I think you will benefit greatly from spending the next few years singing songs from great writers and singers like Adele. Keep up the great work! You have plenty of time to develop your voice. Don’t feel like you have to sound like anyone else. You are going to go through several physical voice changes in the next decade. Allow yourself to grow and progress, and allow your voice to be your voice. Take voice lessons, and be brave enough to let your teachers help you get better. Always be open to new ideas, and you’ll go far!

-Mister Tim

Mister Tim is a modern voice artist who respects the history of the vocal arts while not being afraid to push into new, uncharted territory. He artistic directs an eclectic array of vocal ensembles that range from traditional choral to cutting-edge, technology-based, ultra-modern vocal rock bands. A published composer, award-winning recording artist, and in-demand performer and teacher, Mister Tim is also a viral video star, sponsored kazoo player, and dedicated husband and father. He created and sings with 2010 Harmony Sweepstakes champions Plumbers of Rome, internet sensations moosebutter, beatbox online teachers and performers Mouth Beats, and all-original vocal band THROAT. He also tours with his solo vocal live-looping/beatbox shows.
www.mistertimdotcom.com and www.vocalitysingers.com

Submit Your Own Video for Peer Review

  • Dave

    I agree. What people hear and see is a show and the old adage, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” really applies. If you start feeding yourself on the encouragement it can be like candy, which will rot your soul. Enjoy in moderation but the real joy needs to come first from within.

  • MisterTim

    “If you start feeding yourself on the encouragement it can be like candy, which will rot your soul.” Dave: very well put!  I completely agree.

  • Anonymous

    I like this balance – let your friends support you but don’t forget to seek out a more objective point of view – though you said it better!  I recently saw a pro and she helped me see some critical issues I needed to focus on in order to take steps ahead.  

  • Gwomama

    Yes Dave, very well put.  Unfortunately, “serious” artists can fall victim to the opposite problem–not enough praise, which can also rot your soul.  The food/music/media critic in all of us can zoom in to absurd levels to find something wrong with art.

    For example, I had a friend in a small country who composed a beautiful piece, “The Elder Flake Fanfare”.  But soon after he wrote it, he was racked by self-criticism and tore up his composition.  While critical analysis is good for refinement, we still need to congratulate and enjoy frequently!

  • MisterTim

    Gwomama, thanks for sharing!  I hope your friend found happiness in whatever he chose to do.  Perhaps tearing up the composition was not a response to the composition itself, but to something else happening in his life?