Clavier Companion - May/June 2017 - 44
Writing a great critique
Writing a great critique
by The Minnesota Music Teachers Association
he written critique is the single
most important responsibility
of an MMTA judge. It provides the
student with a tangible record of the
audition and it may affect and influence
the student's development for years to come.
A great critique is nurturing
A great critique is always respectful and kind. Set
a positive tone by including positive opening and
closing comments on every critique. Remember
that words can inspire or deeply wound, and that
children have long memories. Every performance
has some element to commend-even if it is only
having the courage to take on the challenge
of the audition. For example: In the event of a
memory lapse, how well a student deals with
a lapse should be given as much weight as the
A great critique balances objective criticism
with words of encouragement. Teachers,
parents, and students look to the critique for
indications that the student's accomplishments
are being measured against a reliable standard of
excellence, but also for words that will motivate
the student toward greater challenges and future
progress. Let your words assure the student that
they are capable of taking the manageable next
steps that you suggest, and give them the spark
of desire to grow courageously as musicians.
A great critique is specific
A great critique is descriptive and specific, providing
a clear picture of what happened at the event.
Your comments should demonstrate a thorough
knowledge of the literature and performance
practices of the style/era/genre of the repertoire
performed. Balance comments about details with a
general summary of overall performance vitality and
Remember: You can't say everything about a
piece or a particular performance. Focus on a few
important aspects of the performance, particularly
elements that define the stylistic or expressive
nature of the piece.
To provide positive reinforcement, use phrases such as:
To describe what you heard, use phrases such as:
Your playing is...
Your performance was...
Today it sounded like...
Today, at measure...
Today, the B section was...
To provide ideas for growth, use phrases such as:
I would like to hear more...
How do you think it would sound if...
What if you tried...
You might want to...
Your next step could be...
I'd encourage you to experiment with...
A great critique is fair
A great critique is always fair to the student and
teacher. Evaluate the performance you hear-not
the performer or the choice of repertoire. A good
assessment will not assume anything about the