So we have all been there,
It's a Saturday night gig for some inexplicable reason your drums decided to sound terrible tonight despite your best and consistent efforts with a drum key. Your forgot your favourite ride cymbal, your hihat stand broke in the second song, the singer decided you desperately needed to play that super under rehearsed song, your solo was beyond awful and to top it all off you left your spare shirt at home and face the rest of the night sitting in your own sweat.
Suffice to say its not difficult on nights like those to be a little 'down' on your playing ( and probably your organisational skills!) but it is usually those nights when someone will walk up to you and give you a compliment like
"That was awesome mate... Awesome!"
"I just wanted to say I really enjoyed your solo, amazing!"
Which is ofcourse lovely but.........
Most musicians I know are highly self critical, I know I am. In past times I've found myself thinking in my head
"are you mad!?"
"are we talking about the same event!?"
To my detriment I don't mind admitting that once or twice I may even have said it out loud.
After some consideration of these situations I decided that this really isn't fair to yourself or more importantly the kindly person who is trying to express there appreciation of your performance.
The person speaking to you may well be a music fan who has no idea of the dark inner workings of drum tecnique and just enjoyed the music for what it hopefully was.... Good music
In the past I have given unsuspecting listeners chapter and verse on why or how I haven't played my best this evening which when I think about it really wasn't needed.
What your actually telling that poor person is
"what do you know? That was awful...
You clearly don't know what your talking about!"
How would that make you feel?
It's actually quite mean isn't it.
Let's look at what's happening here:
You the player have a certain level of performance that you strive to reach every time you play and anything under that is disappointing.
They the listener have a certain expectation of live music and anything that exceeds that expectation is a wonderful surprise.
It seems very possible that you could fall short of your own expectations whist exceeding that of your audience
Depending on how hard you are on yourself.
I have a new policy that no matter how bad I think my gig was if someone says they enjoyed it or offers a compliment I simply say
"thankyou very much I really appreciate it" and then shake there hand
You can see the difference on people's faces and to be honest you do actually feel a little better about that awful gig.
And anyway you can always have a good moan with the guitar player on the way home ......