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  • 10/08/18 01:29 AM

    Madsen's Musings Ep.1: Are You Hyper Critical?

    Music and Sound FX


    In the first episode of Madsen's Musings, I discuss the issue of being too self critical about your work and how that can get in the way of your progress.
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    A transcript is provided below the video.


    So I'm walking my dog Kobe, she's right here, and I had this idea -- this thought -- that I noticed myself, and so many artists seem to deal with feeling like they're inferior, or they're somehow a fraud and people are going to find out that they've been faking it this whole time.

    This is something that plagues so many people, from the highest tiers to the newest beginner in our industry, and just some ideas -- some thought -- that came to mind for me with the right ratio; with the right balance it can be an ok thing to have hypercritical thoughts about your playing, but it can quickly turn to a negative thing if it's out of balance.  If you are too negative; if you are too hypercritical about your playing; if you don't appreciate what you're doing well.

    You want to have a list of things that you can work on.  You want to have a list to say "these are objectives that I haven't met yet".  But you also want to relish and enjoy; appreciate and recognise the things that you do well.

    I'll give you an example:

    Oh yeah, quick story.  In 2014, I was fulltime freelancing and I had a brief lull in work, so I joined Fiverr -- that's with two Rs: F I V E R R.  I joined that service to offer remote saxophone recordings.  (Mosquito on my face.)  I didn't know how well it would go.  I thought "well maybe if it goes well it'll keep me on my horns a little bit more often and also it will help me just fill up my schedule and get some extra cash."  Before doing Fiverr I used to be really critical about my saxophone playing feeling like "oh I don't do this like this player over here" or "that player over there is really really good at this approach", that sort of thing, and... not to brag, but to put it humbly, the response from Fiverr has been great!  It's been really really positive.  I've done something like over 580 projects on Fiverr, have a 5-star rating from about 99% of my clients, and that's fantastic!

    And it's made me realize that there's things in my playing that people appreciate and that they want to have... they want to have in their songs.  (Sorry, I've got some people behind me I guess.)

    Anywhoo, if you're feeling in fear about your performance as a musician; as an audio professional; as a composer or sound designer, you know what?  Keep it in check.  Let some of that propel you and motivate you to get better, and let some of it just roll off your back because you want to keep your morale high.  You want to keep your enthusiasm and you want to keep your self-confidence high.

    Artists just tend to be hypercritical of themselves.  Artists to be very sensitive and feel like they suck.


    So there's this TED talk I watched and it discussed why people feel like others are more creative than they are and it's a real simple premise: When you look at someone else's finished work you don't see the whole process.  You don't see all the doubt.  You don't see all the terminal, or even just not knowing what to do next; the evolution of ideas that the person goes through to finally get to the end product.  Instead you're seeing the end product, and you're saying "man, this is awesome, I could never do something like this."  But that's just not reality.


    So what is the takeaway here?  The takeaway is to have a healthy balance of being critical about yourself as a musician and also appreciating and recognizing what you do well.  I think in the long run that can help keep you more motivated to stay in music, to stay on your horn, to stay on your instrument, to feel good about the efforts you're putting into it, and yeah... I'm gonna have a beer.

    [Out takes]

    [Wayback Machine Archive]

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