What do you say to a friend when ...

Telecaster582

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I would point out , politely, a few of the issues , and then the positives. That way he knows what he’s got to work on
This^^ I would very kindly try to point out the bad things, and then give them some help or advice on how it can be fixed. I would think that it's not being a very good friend to lie to him or let him sound terrible and he not fix it because he thinks he's awesome. A friend should be able to tell the truth and help their friends, not lie to them. Just speak the truth in love and if he gets offended you did the best you could and now it's his fault he got mad and doesn't want advice. Nobody can get better if they don't know what they did wrong.
 

regularslinky

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Did he ask you because he wants your in-depth, detailed professional criticism, or did he ask you because he wants to hear something nice from his friend? It's probably the latter, and if you are his friend you should oblige. It's like when your wife asks if the pants she's wearing make her butt look big. A wise man is honest when it matters, creative when it doesn't.
 

57joonya

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I’ve received plenty of critique from friends about my bands over the years . All of the stuff they told me , I feel like I already knew . Stuff like , u guys need to pick some songs people know. You need to tell the bass player not to sing, too many notes .. it depends on the situation, but I never took my music too serious , and I appreciate honest talk about my music . I have certainly been on the other end where a friend wanted my honest advice on his band . I do t think constructive criticism is a big deal, or a bad thing . Close friends should be honest . But of course discouraging words are a different story . Don’t come out and say , u should hang it up, U guys suck . Nobody needs to hear that of course
 

Fiesta Red

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I think other people have asked some good questions:
—What are the dynamics of your friendship?
—Does he want a true critique or just want to talk about music and guitars?

Depending on those factors, I’d probably do the “counsel sandwich”…
A complimentary statement, followed by some counsel about what needs improvement, followed by another compliment.

That usually works well without being hurtful.
 

Larry F

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With snideness in my heart, I asked a kid at school how he liked my band at a church dance that weekend.

"Hey! How did we sound last night?"
"Could have been better."
 

421JAM

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Usually when someone goes out of their way to ask for feedback, it’s because they already know they aren’t good and are looking for validation. I’ve been there. It’s good to have something positive to say. But if you just blow smoke all it does is encourages bad music and shows that you won’t give an honest opinion.

Most bands can be ten-fold improved with minor tweaks. Identify one or two of those tweaks and offer them as constructive criticism. Most bad bands make the same mistakes, so it’s pretty easy to identify what they’re doing wrong and offer suggestions:

All songs the same tempo, all songs same volume or energy level, everyone plays 100% of the time, taking too long between songs, poor connection with the audience, someone’s always out of tune, drummer overplays and/or plays with force rather than feel, band is intoxicated, two guitar players using the same sounds, etc.

Most of those issues can be corrected pretty easily if the band wants to improve. A lot of times, though, bands don’t care about improving, or worse, they think they are automatically great just by existing.
 

JustABluesGuy

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I would offer them only encouragement without too much brutal honesty unless they specifically ask for constructive criticism. Even then I would be very careful about how I present it.

I clap for the rankest beginners no matter how bad they might be. They are up there putting themselves out there, and I applaud the courage it takes to do that, especially when one isn’t all that good yet.

I always try to avoid offering “unsolicited” education or advice to other musicians. They tend to not appreciate it as much as you would think!
 

tery

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I have a friend who saw Van Halen audition in the early 70's. He said they will never make it and walked away from them.
 

421JAM

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It kind of depends on whether the band are beginners or not. In this case, it sounds like it’s not beginners. If it’s beginners, then it’s best to offer only encouragement. If it’s long term full grown adult hobbyists, as it sounds like is the case here, then actual critique is appropriate when it’s asked for.

It’s weird…if you were a beginner at sports, nobody would have any issue with an experienced friend or neighbor offering pointers. It’d be welcome, and is the norm. But when it’s music, if you offer constructive advice you end up hurting feelings.

Somehow musicians don’t seem to understand that constructive criticism is a form of encouragement.
 

Digital Larry

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One thing that is easy to overlook is how much guts it takes to get up in front of people to do something like sing a song, even if you're bad at it. When I was in my first college band we could barely play but we did open mics and got gigs wherever we could. Someone told me once "you guys look like you're having a lot of fun" which we were! And it omitted "you sounded great" which I knew we didn't!
 




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