critical swimming

A friend asked me one upon a time what I thought of her violin playing. I hate that question because I wasn’t blown away and I love this person, even admire her but her violin work and my not-impressed-by-it, is not something I want to share. Probably result in feelings hurt. I don’t want to do that to our relationship and yet when I went for a lesson with Freddie Stone he stopped me after 15 seconds and said “you don’t know what you’re doing”. Nobody I met back then would tell me I didn’t know what I was doing. New musical parts started growing before I left his North York house that night.
The chemistry between who he was and who I was perfect for me to hear him and make use of the rest of our lesson. It was fair for him to insinuate I was an imposter but I have no reason to send negative opinions to my friend. What’s the point? Who cares about my opinion? She may become a greater violinist and I don’t want to be any reason for slowing her down. The worst part is I sense her insecurity and so I lied. “You sound great” I said feeling very believable. Possibly I did the right thing. Possibly she could tell I was lying and I’ve made our relationship worse. Possibly if I told her my true thoughts she would find it useful and possibly if I told her my true thoughts it might have been the end of our friendship. You pick up cues from relationships. With some people you can swim in the deep end and with others you can’t leave the shallow end of the pool.
In years past when writing a song, if very excited I play it to someone expecting them to be just as excited and usually they aren’t. It’s so easy after that to forget the path I was walking, to think maybe this thing is not as good as I thought it was. I might even throw it away and decide I was wrong in the first place. In a way we’re all thin skinned. For a long time now I try not to share it before it’s done. Don’t want to risk having my heart broken if the thing I’m into isn’t met with the same enthusiasm I currently have for it but once it is done it doesn’t feel nearly as vulnerable. That might be why sometimes I don’t want to share a critical opinion, I think it’ll do more damage than good.


  1. Re: “you don’t know what you’re doing…”

    If I know what I’m doing while I’m doing it (musically) then I know one thing is for certain: I’m having a terrible night…


  2. Giving feedback is a skill in itself which is why it’s a good idea to be careful who you ask. If you ask people randomly you are putting them on the spot. I have a couple of friends who write and we have an agreement that we show each other our writing and we have a way of giving each other useful feedback. I don’t ask anyone else for feedback other than these friends and my music teacher who is superb at giving feedback and ways to improve my work.


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