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Excessive self criticism

posted on #1
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This is something I've been struggling with i varying degrees all my life. I also get the impression that i'm not the only one. And i did some work to remedy the negative effects of self criticism. Don't get me wrong, a certain level is just healthy, it helps you improve and boost your creativity. But if you reach a level where your own critique hinders or scares you from accomplishing your goals it should be dealt with.

Here are some of my findings:

1) Set reasonable goals. The higher you set your goals, the more likely you will experience failure. And experiencing the same thing frequently makes it a habit, and you don't want this one.

2) Practice, practice, practice. Not only makes practice perfect, it also boost your self confidence and creates a foundation for your creativity

3) Refine your own style. You never come first by running behind others... Create your own unique mix of skills, knowledge, solutions and tricks that work for you. And be eclectic as well, try to apply your findings out of their normal context. You might be surprised how well that works

4) Document what you are doing. If your'e not happy, don't share right now, but go back from time to time and check what you've done. Again, you might be positively surprised...


It would be very interesting to get other opinions on this subject
Pure fingerstyle
posted on #2
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Joined: 20.02.13
Do yourself a favor, and if you haven't already, take 1,5 hr of your time and watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Un3p614XExc

You will never self-criticize again after understanding how this builds up your own limitations.
posted on #3
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Excellent video and very interesting thoughts..
"It doesn't take talent to upgrade your playing, it takes patience"
"Practice the Zen of practicing"
"What a musician does too often is underestimating how their mind is screwing everything up"
"When the answer is not there, stop asking the question"
"As soon as we get exited about it, its gone.."
"Some people had such a karmic destiny to play music that even the educational system couldn't ruin them and as a result they became musicians"
"Liberation through form is such a great attainment that its the greatest feeling of liberation"
Thank You
Edited by nilton on 04-06-2013 17:23
Pure fingerstyle
posted on #4
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just dipped into that vid really quickly, and I can recommend the watch...
I believe, self criticism is a diffrent issue when it comes to performing arts or other life issues. In art, self criticism is of no use - take any known band, you'll find a lot of things to criticise. If Mick Jagger had seriously reflected on "I cant get no satisfaction", he would have never released that. What people love about artists is their attitude, while most contemporary musicians can hardly play or know stuff about music when judged by a classicly trained person. So, to make a long thought short: Its about doing your thing, and presenting it with the feeling of "this is just right the way it is". Take my guitar playing as an example: I uploaded a few reggae strums under the username "Rich" - I cant play guitar really, but theese self-sufficient riddims are within my scope of what I can do right, and I believe they work well. No need to feel bad about my lack of skill there.
Of course, there is ways to make a fool out of oneself, but theres little way to tell if p.e. a certain guitar part is extremely difficult to play or if that player just wasnt able to do it the way one would have expected. Music is always good if its heartfelt.
As far as wikiloops is concerned, I'd like to add that this does not apply to recording - a shitty recording can spoil everything, so criticism on technical aspects is a good thing to have.
Of course, having a certain not too HighEnd sound can be a statement and add to the overall experience, but there is limits to that. If a recording clips all the time, has dropouts and an overall feel of "I dont give a ***", then thats certainly not acceptable. I dont want to keep anyone from sharing stuff - get your tracks up here and get some feedback. Not everyone has a great quality multitrack recording setup at home, thats no problem.
Just be as good as you are, dont try to seem to be any better, give sincere respect to those who play even better than you (hoohoo alexj and dafunkydrummer ;)) but dont let that make you feel bad. Most imortantly: Play.

just my 2 cent...
"Sorry - had to do it!" - Les Claypool

yes, you are looking at the administrators signature.
posted on #5
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Posts: 5
Joined: 31.01.13
hi nilton

i ve first missunderstood your message.
thought you wanted to kick musicians out with lower/other/younger skill levels .
but i ve read again what you written and....bang...it was my bad english that made me think so.
im 56 years old and makin music- mostly live - since i d been 14.
i m a thirdclass musician but with much experience.
when i was young i was less disciplined f++++ing around, feelin like a rockstar, drugs..... ...and a little guitar playin..clashin my guitar to the ground, experimenting
with growling feedbacks in front of my selfmade fullstack.
in my time - would there been internet and such sites like wikiloops - maybe i d a better chance to work my talent out.
now i m old - close but past to be a Rockstar:D - i m really glad to exchange my musicianbrain with musicians here all over the world.
thanks for given audicity to the younger and less experienced musicians.
one thing we all have in common : A HEAD FULL OF MUSIC

p.s.:sorry i m not so good in foreign languages....appropriate to my abilities on guitar:D:D
i know dick is speakin german.if theres something given to misunderstanding
please be so kind and correct it.
posted on #6
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I think we've all been down that road to some extend. And somehow that seems to be the nature of youth..

So the ideal compromise would be to have a young persons open mind and in-sensitiveness to criticism along with a matures discipline and experience.

That's something to strive for.....
Pure fingerstyle
posted on #7
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Joined: 23.12.12
very interresting thread!

gonna watch the video today.

another advice to watch when your believe you aren't "talented" or aren't good enough at your instrument is this movie by scott devine:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKAHDALZKhg

(it's a bass guitar teacher but this lesson is for every "artist")
Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.

Plato
posted on #8
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I thought a lot of Kenny Werners video. Then i came up with this idea:

If your brain is messing up your playing and practicing by criticising and questioning, pretend that there is someone else doing the playing or practicing. You-self take a step back and try to guide and help that person. I find it much harder to criticize others than myself. And similarly i find it easier to be helpful and advising to others instead of criticizing.

I tried this during a practice session and it seemed to work. At least there were other tings going on in my mind than usual. If its the idea/technique itself or that just what Kenny said i cannot distinguish between. At least not yet.

It would be interesting to see other people to try this and report the results
Pure fingerstyle
posted on #9
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one question I have:
Is there any particular goal you have set for yourself that brings up so much criticism? I have stopped having goals concerning my instrumental playing for some time, and all pressure vanished. Cant remember ending a session because I felt like "I'll never get it right". Why and what is so important to achieve. Its about fun. At least, to me :)
Another thing: I think its important to keep in mind: Practising will help. Even if your exercise wont be any good the moment you excercise, it will improve your overall skill. Just because you been playing. Allow yourself to suck during excercise, if you play alot, you will improve, maybe not at what you are practising, but in your overall skills on that instrument - try to develop a positive attitude towards playing things bad while practising, laugh at that instead of getting a stomach ache. Maybe hard to do if your very ambitious, but it helped me learn a lot of instruments by myself and having fun.
"Sorry - had to do it!" - Les Claypool

yes, you are looking at the administrators signature.
posted on #10
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I always try to have goals with everything i try to accomplish. And i am fully aware of that it can be a dangerous or counter productive strategy to do so. And as i wrote in my original post, when setting up goals it is extremely important to set these goals reasonable. And also, it is important to set goals that are what i call multidimensional that is the goal should cover several aspects.

For example when playing an exercise you can set up an overall goal containing speed, timing, phrasing, toneshaping etc. Also the selection of the exercise is part a goal in itself because i choose them based on my analysis on what i need to improve. I often found that when i'm blocking myself in one direction there may be a free path in another. If cannot get the speed you want, go in the other direction an play as slowly as possible and practice timing instead. You'll be amazed how hard it is to keep time below 30bpm...

On the other hand, when performing or recording your goal should be not to have any goals at all. This maybe sounds a little self contradictory but having any goal in that situation will certainly mess things up. Just clear your mind as much as you can, or at least, do not focus on what you are about to do. I think we can agree on that one.

And i agree on that practice always helps, no matter what. But i think "having fun" is a too narrow definition of what state of mind to try to achieve. There are many others that are at least as productive. The common nominator is that they are positive, non critical states.

Yes, I am a very critical and ambitious person, no doubt about that and I'm actually quite content with myself. But being that person has created a specific set of problems during my life. Just as (I believe) other kind of personalities have their own specific sets of problems. And that's why i started this thread, to share my findings to others having the same problem set and knowing their thoughts om the subject.
Edited by nilton on 06-06-2013 11:12
Pure fingerstyle
posted on #11
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Posts: 80
Joined: 10.09.11
Great thread nilton. and really great YT video P-Tar.
Since my band split I've been going deeper into self doubt when it comes to my music ability, These days I only upload 1 out of 10 sessions i play on because of it.
posted on #12
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Joined: 25.03.12
Been there, done that. I think one of great dangers not mentioned before is when you compare yourself to others especially when setting goals. Try to avoid that at all costs. Easier said than done that is.

Uploading is one thing, the other one is actually recording. As stated in the video, you should either be playing or practicing. And for me it is like this:
When i have decided to make a recording things start to take shape. There are specific subjects to practice, analysis and transcribing do be done etc. For me this is constructive and structured work that leads forward. You can set specific and realistic goals to fulfill. And when practiced enough they will hopefully come out in the recording, not fully but to some extent. And recording is great practice in itself, not for musical subjects but for setting the right state of mind for playing.

On the other hand, just noodling along leads me mostly nowhere, its neither playing nor practice. Of course there are exceptions to that and gradients as well, but generally speaking it holds. And for me it often fires the negativity that is so very counterproductive.
Edited by nilton on 09-06-2013 18:37
Pure fingerstyle
posted on #13
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Posts: 18
Joined: 20.02.13
nilton wrote:
I thought a lot of Kenny Werners video. Then i came up with this idea:

If your brain is messing up your playing and practicing by criticising and questioning, pretend that there is someone else doing the playing or practicing. You-self take a step back and try to guide and help that person. I find it much harder to criticize others than myself. And similarly i find it easier to be helpful and advising to others instead of criticizing.

I tried this during a practice session and it seemed to work. At least there were other tings going on in my mind than usual. If its the idea/technique itself or that just what Kenny said i cannot distinguish between. At least not yet.

It would be interesting to see other people to try this and report the results


I think it is a great idea. My teacher always emphasizes that I should try to get outside of myself, as if I was part of the audience and was watching someone else play. This way you open up to the music, and then the music itself takes the lead.

I only experienced that episodically, but when it happens, it is a blast.

Edited by P-Tar on 19-12-2013 04:15
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