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Beer Tent The general discussion forum, and the place to start a new "beer-tent-like" Piping Related discussion...

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Old 07-13-2020, 08:21 PM   #1
CalumII
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Default Constructive Criticism for Pipers

Hi folks, I have created a Facebook group that I hope some of you might be interested in (link below). It is called "Constructive Criticism for Pipers" and hopefully, it does what it says on the tin. The aim is for it to be a friendly, respectful space where we can all learn from discussing our performances in depth. It's open to all levels and not restricted to any particular kind of music, competition or otherwise.


It's a private group, not to keep people out, but in order to keep it a friendly space where everyone is on the same page and where your submitted performances are only seen by group members.


https://www.facebook.com/groups/198770071578122/
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Old 07-20-2020, 07:12 AM   #2
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Constructive Criticism for Pipers

It's challenging.

Because people have difficulty with the idea of criticism being neutral.

It can be done. I was an Art Major and you take "crit" classes where one of the students hangs some of his work in a studio-like space and everyone discusses it.

A crucial rule is: saying "like" or "don't like" isn't allowed.

Because liking or not liking something is a value judgement.

Beyond that, it requires no thought, no analysis. Being prevented from merely liking or not liking forces you to think, to analyse, to compare and contrast.

And it helps avoiding hurting feelings. Though people can get invested in their work. You develop a thick skin.
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Old 07-20-2020, 08:47 AM   #3
Green Piper
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Default Re: Constructive Criticism for Pipers

Surely you can say “I like it because.........” or “I don’t like it because..........”

I’d be happy with criticism of either type as long as the value statement is qualified with the reason. It is the reason that I can work with.

I also don’t mind negative criticism as long at it includes qualifying remarks that I can work on.

I teach university students and when they’re completing evaluations, I joke that they can say “Butterworth is a crap instructor because.............”. I have never had anyone say that, yet.
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Old 07-20-2020, 09:31 AM   #4
CalumII
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Default Re: Constructive Criticism for Pipers

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
A crucial rule is: saying "like" or "don't like" isn't allowed.

Because liking or not liking something is a value judgement.

Beyond that, it requires no thought, no analysis. Being prevented from merely liking or not liking forces you to think, to analyse, to compare and contrast.

Yes, this is exactly the ethos that I'm trying to create - that it's not a competition, it's not a hierarchy, it's just an exploration of the elements of performance. The way I phrased this in the rules I wrote for the group was:


Quote:
Be constructive
It's OK to say that something is not good, but you must explain why and how the performance could be improved. A comment that isn't actively constructive may be removed.

We are now up to about sixty members though so far only one person has been brave enough to stick their heads above the parapet - it would be great to have a few more submissions.
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Old 07-20-2020, 10:55 AM   #5
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Default Re: Constructive Criticism for Pipers

I have signed up, but not yet made a recording/video, but I will for sure.

Thank-you for doing this.

Charlie
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Old 07-20-2020, 05:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: Constructive Criticism for Pipers

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Originally Posted by Green Piper View Post
Surely you can say “I like it because_______” or “I don’t like it because _______”
You cannot.
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Old 07-20-2020, 05:42 PM   #7
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Default Re: Constructive Criticism for Pipers

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalumII View Post
this is exactly the ethos that I'm trying to create - that it's not a competition, it's not a hierarchy, it's just an exploration of the elements of performance. The way I phrased this in the rules I wrote for the group was:

Be constructive
It's OK to say that something is not good, but you must explain why and how the performance could be improved.
We could not say something is "good" or "not good".

Those are value judgements, tantamount to "like" or "don't like".

Suggestions for alternative paths to explore, of course! Along the lines of "I wonder what it would be like if you ________ ."

But leave the "don't like" and "not good" out of it. The aim is utter neutrality. You get used to it! After four years of it, it becomes second nature.
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Old 07-20-2020, 06:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: Constructive Criticism for Pipers

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Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
You cannot.


Well I disagree. We play/perform for other people’s appreciation. As humans, we “like” or “dislike” things.

When I do finally get round to posting for critique, please don’t feel that you cannot say “like” or “dislike.” Give opinions that add why. The feedback and suggestions are far more important.

......and, if you think my playing is crap, please say so, but give me suggestions on how to improve it, so it isn’t crap (or at least less so).

Charlie
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Old 07-21-2020, 08:14 AM   #9
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Constructive Criticism for Pipers

Sorry I was referring to the ground rules in art "crit" classes.

I was just mentioning that critique culture as an example of maintaining a neutral critique environment. It works only because the ground rules are understood and respected by all participants.

It forces deep thought, careful consideration, and precise expression. The problem with opinions was well expressed by a friend who said "opinions are like _____ , everybody has one."
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Old 07-21-2020, 09:21 AM   #10
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Default Re: Constructive Criticism for Pipers

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
Sorry I was referring to the ground rules in art "crit" classes.

I was just mentioning that critique culture as an example of maintaining a neutral critique environment. It works only because the ground rules are understood and respected by all participants.

It forces deep thought, careful consideration, and precise expression. The problem with opinions was well expressed by a friend who said "opinions are like _____ , everybody has one."
In watching a bit of this 'debate', I agree with you, pancelticpiper. Whether our experience comes from our education, vocation, or other....or whether it comes from judging/critiquing...or all above, a lot comes down to the mutual goals, and the willingness of the person being critiqued to accept comments.

In general, as you've outlined, people respond better--and thus are more likely to receive comments--when the approach is supportive, yet still honest. Most of us have simple requirements. We want to know that we're heard and that we're respected; just to name a couple (I could go into a whole litany of our 'needs', but won't). And so there are many ways of generating a critique that provides the message that we heard, that we respect (the attempt?), and to provide comments of "ways to improve"...which at least gives a base from which the person feels he/she can work. The important feature is that if the person receiving the critique goes what some of us call "closed channel" (shut down), none of it matters. This applies to virtually any scenario: debates, therapy, critiques, etc.

On a related topic, specifically to judging/critiquing piping, drumming, dancing, and so forth, some common complaints I hear from competitors is that the judge was totally negative (even brutal), focused on like/not like, gave no helpful ways to improve, had no comments about anything done decently, and/or says virtually nothing (e.g., I've seen some comment sheets with nothing but check marks! No comments).
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