Notes on giving + receiving feedback

There's no doubt about it: both giving and receiving feedback is an art. Like any art, it's a process that takes time to get comfortable with and know how to do well. Feedback's necessary for growth but it can take us to unfamiliar places and has unique challenges that accompany it. It also brings with it potential for transformation, skill development and new learning always.

Below are a few useful points sparked by a vibrant conversation at the roundtable where together, we wondered out loud how to best support each other as songwriters in the feedback process. We came up with the following evolving methods and habits to cultivate when giving and receiving feedback:

1. The songwriter chooses a number from 1 to 5 relating to the level of feedback they're wanting on their song. Number 1 is "No feedback thank you. I just want to share the song", number 2 might be "I'm a tiny kitten with my eyes barely open, please be gentle" and number 5 being "Yep, I want it all, tell me everything you're thinking". 

2. To use the constructive criticism sandwich technique (start by reflecting what you like about the song, add one point which could be improved upon and finish with another reflection on a part that worked really well). 

3. To become aware of the language used when giving feedback: ultimately, saying "I like it" or "I don't like it" isn't helpful. It's better to be specific - what exactly did you like and why? What exactly didn't work from your perspective and what could be done to improve it? 

4. To express compassion in communication and sensitivity. For me, it's a vulnerable place sharing a brand new song and it's a gift to be in a group of people who understand that journey and are giving lots of encouragement along the way. 

5. Another option in giving feedback is to ask yourself the following three questions:

How did the song make me feel?
What specifically did I enjoy about it?
What's one thing that could be done to improve it?

6. From a recent workshop, the highlight was a process of remembering the best feedback I've ever been given and how that felt, then bringing that energy into how I give feedback to others. Here are the notes from the workshop. It's a worthwhile read for any of us learning how to write the best songs we can and hone the craft of songwriting.

Here's to freeing the muse and supporting each other on the journey!

- Mira