The key to better Songwriting: Critique

I remember when I first started writing my own lyrics and attempting to put melodies to them. I would get so excited that I was able to put the two together and, from what at least I thought at the time, forming into a song. I would then take it to my mom and sing it for her. Always the encourager, she never wanted to discourage me and would tell me how wonderful it was. That had to have been rough for her listening to those gems in the early days.

And just like any creative endeavor, you just can't keep it to yourself. I had to share it with someone. That's the payoff. When other's are impacted by it. So I sang for my mom because well, she seemed to like it. 

Years would go by and I would continue to write songs and hone my craft. In all honesty, I've always been a bit hasty when it came to sharing my work. I learned the hard way that not everyone was able to see the potential in my unfinished masterpieces.

I started soliciting the feedback of people other than my mom and found out that everything I wrote was not actually a #1 hit. Crazy, I know. But true nonetheless. Many time's I would receive feed back that would crush my heart and, in my immaturity, would walk around devastated for days over one small critique. Many times mad at the person who gave me the feedback I requested. What I learned in that process as painful as it was, was the tremendous value of others perspective. Perspective and advice that would lend to making me a better songwriter. 

I believe it is a good thing to have others listen to and give feedback on your music. It sharpens you not only as a writer (performer, artist etc), but it also builds character and fortitude. 

3 things to remember when soliciting feedback:
  1. Make room for Mom.
     Let those who love you no matter what provide the necessary motivation you need to be inspired. Family, friends, that crazy Facebook stalker that likes everything you post. Let your grandma proclaim to the nations and the cashier at Walmart that you are the most talented person alive! You need to be encouraged. It's fuel for the journey. 
  2. Get a second opinion. Just like a medical diagnosis can require a different professional opinion, so too can a song. Respect their opinion, listen and consider it, whether good or bad, get 1 to 3 more perspectives. This will help in giving the song some clarity and direction going forward. 
  3. Believe in your stuff. Having confidence is the best thing you can do for your music. Without it, no matter the talent level, if you don't believe that your music is great no one else will. No matter how professional the person you are asking, they are NOT the final authority on YOUR music. You are. 
It takes a bit of courage but I believe as you let others hear your music and respond to it you will find yourself writing better songs with something to say.