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If you want your audience to “get it,” you have to “bring it” to them. If you want them to experience joy when you play, you have to present joy. This may seem obvious, but there are some subtleties involved.
You don’t necessarily have to feel joyful, but you have to bring joy to the audience to take away. In other words, to answer Wlliam Miller’s question in the film Almost Famous, you don’t have to be in love to write a love song. You just have to write a good love song.
What ever you need in order to get the reception you envision, you do. For some people it means coming from a place of utter truth, like a shaman. For others, it means crafting the best lie they can, like a magician.
If the audience don’t feel what you’re bringing, two things are possible. 1) You may be feeling it, but you’re not bringing it, or presenting it to them. 2) You may be presenting it, but it’s not what they want and they aren’t taking it.
Either way requires a back-to-the-drawingboard approach with a creative work, or a quick shift on stage in a performance. Neither way allows you to blame the audience. That’s like blaming your significant other in a relationship - that just ends the relationship.
The first scenario is the easier of the two. If you believe every word you’re singing, but you can’t express the feelings you’re describing, you have a craftsmanship problem. You need good feedback and probably some solid guidance from a pro or trusted friend.
If, on the other hand, the audience doesn’t want what you’re offering, that’s much harder. You then have two choices - persevere and hope they grow attached to what you have, or figure out what they want and give that to them. Depending on your attachment to what you’re offering, the first choice may be your only option.
Did James Joyce ever expect his audience to “get” Finnegan’s Wake? He was determined to write that insane masterpiece his way, no matter what. Then again, Joyce had already given his audience what they wanted in previous works, so he could eat his cake and have it too.
In the end, you have to decide what feedback means to you. If it’s your livelihood, your bread money, you probably can’t afford to be precious, and had better figure out what your audience wants most, right now. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a confirmation of your talents, feedback may be too complicated a way to get it.
I’d like your feedback on this issue. Do you get what I’m saying? Or is this something you’re interested in at all?