We all know that there seems to be a never-ending array of “attitudes”, both positive and negative, in the world of music, and of course, the world of the guitar. In your formative years, any kind of criticism can be truly taken to heart for many reasons, but the way it can affect you is especially important.
I can remember in my early days, how there often seemed to be a barrage of criticism, often leveled at me from people who really turned out to be nothing but very jealous of my abilities, especially for a guitarist so young. This being good at a young age can sometimes be a bit of a “curse” since you are so vulnerable and impressionable as well. This is a time when many can take advantage of you, as I was very taken advantage of when I was younger, and the fact that you really want to impress everybody can sometimes work against you, as you actually and inadvertently leave yourself wide open to all kinds of attacks and criticism. On the other hand, this period in your life and career can also be so positive, and here’s to those who always find a way to either praise you, or to at least give you truly “constructive” criticism. I know that in my own time, I have never forgotten good, constructive criticism when it was given to me, and it somehow has really always been something I’ve gone to in my memory for help and guidance.
In my later and current years, I have truly enjoyed being a mentor and helper to many gifted and many not-so gifted players. This ability to complement and to properly criticize students and fellow players is a well-honed skill that should never be taken lightly. My responsibility as a mentor and leader of others is certainly something I take very seriously, and I always enjoy and embrace the wonderful honor it really is to work with these people.
I have always found that I’ve learned a great deal from folks who mishandled me in the past, to be sure that I never mishandle anyone now. This is especially important when recording, since that process can be very tedious, and can leave large “marks” on someone if handled wrongly. The act of “being under the microscope” in the studio tends to magnify what you do, and the sheer intensity of the atmosphere of recording and being under scrutiny can heighten all egos and emotions involved, so one must take extra care to be only “constructive” when criticizing anyone. After all, it is what translates onto tape that matters most in a case like this, and you don’t want unhappy musicians to be making unhappy sounds!
So keep all this in mind as you move forward, and be good to everyone, even if it means having to be “constructively critical” in the process!