It’s kinda known. We singers are a sensitive bunch, especially about our voices. But would you want to listen to a singer that didn’t care how they sounded? That was just completely bullet-proof when it came to people’s perception of them? Of course not. Singing publicly places us in a vulnerable position. The fact that criticism can hurt us, shows us first of all that we care about what we do. This is no bad thing. However, for those putting themselves out there, if we’re not careful with how we deal with criticism, it can bring us down, big time. Here are some tips to dealing with criticism, especially the type that hurts us, whether it comes from loved ones, or the public at large.

  1. Feel it. If something somebody said has got your back up, the first thing to do is to accept this. Don’t fight it. Allow your feelings to flow. Don’t try and change them, it won’t work. Try and identify where in your body you feel the pain, and let it be. Acceptance is the first step.
  2. Be honest with yourself. Try to figure out exactly what it was that hurt you- however insensitively (/or downright insulting) the criticism was delivered, is there any truth in it? Were you singing out of tune? Did passion take over completely and you lose control of your technique on stage? However much it hurts to admit that you might not have done your best, only by being truthful about it can you start to break down what you would do better next time, in your preparations, or in your practice, to improve next time you go out on stage, or record the vocals for your next single. Use the emotion as fuel, to transform the way you do things.
  3. Context. Where is the person coming from who delivered the stinging blow? Was it a friend? Was it a complete stranger? Was it from somebody who might not like your style of music anyway? Was it a music magazine journalist that you respect? Or was it from some completely unrelated quarter? Was somebody just being rude/ unkind for the sheer sake of it? Analysing in this manner can help put things in perspective- do you need to work on something- or not? Maybe after all, you can take it on the chin, pick yourself up, and go again next time. Be vulnerable all over again. As Ian Brown once said- “I’m a singer- I wear my heart on my sleeve- so stab it.” It might hurt, but you can take it.
  4. Be inspired by ultra successful singers! The singers at the very top have to deal with an extra-ordinary level of day-to-day criticism, insults, negativity, shaming, and even threats of the worst kind. Ask yourself how they do it- grow the courage you need to be like them- to just stand up and do it the fuck anyway.