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Backhanded Compliments - or nothing of the sort!

Pete Effamy

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183
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UK
You can usually spot them a mile off, loitering behind the people that want to tell you that you're the best sax player they'd ever heard (I'm silently writing an extensive list of great players they should check out). Patterned jumpers. They're the ones. After patting yourself on the back that you'd done ok (or gotten away with it!) they slink up, and after an uneasy pause (usually involving head nodding) they tell you that you should hear their brother/mate/sister/cousin/dog - they can play.

I should think most of us have had them. I recall Bob Mintzer recalling loads in one of his books. One was "can you play more like Al Cohn?!". To Bob Mintzer....
After one of my clarinet recitals at college in which half your peers and lecturers turned up to cheer you on and the other half awaited your failure, one of the lecturers did the nodding head thing and then merely asked if I'd heard Gervase De Peyer play it. Thanks matey!

Other unintended put-downs include "wow, what mouthpiece is that?" and the like. Yascha Heifitz was once told how wonderful a tone his violin had - to which he responded by holding it up and saying "that's funny, I'm not hearing anything".

Anyway, it's funny when you look back but not so much in the moment.

Anyone else had some good ones?
 
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Pete Effamy

Pete Effamy

Member
Messages
183
Location
UK
I guess the ones coming from relatives are not worth being mentioned
(like "They broadcasted your music by mistake, didn't they?")
On the flip side of the coin - do I detect a hint of Bendik (ex-Steps Ahead) in your tenor playing?? Nice!
 

randulo

19 months of alto
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France
My favorite is "I'd like to tell you how much I enjoy your playing... I'd like to, and some day it may be appropriate." (Many variations)
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
One of my friends teachers came up to him after his recital and said "Out of all of soloists on the stage, I think your instrument was the shiniest."

My mentor and the head of the music department after listening to a very poor master's recital by a vocal graduate student went up to him afterward and said "Well, you've done it again!" The student walked away beaming as those of us within earshot quietly chucked to ourselves.

Following my master's recital on saxophone and clarinet he said to me "There were sections of your performance that no one could have played better". Known for his "brutal honesty" I knew his comment contained both an element of praise and an acknowledgement that my preparation and performance lacked consistency. Listening to the tape recording afterward I was painfully aware of the measures that could have been played better.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
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3,804
Location
Manchester, UK
After one of my clarinet recitals at college in which half your peers and lecturers turned up to cheer you on and the other half awaited your failure, one of the lecturers did the nodding head thing and then merely asked if I'd heard Gervase De Peyer play it. Thanks matey!
He was never one of my favourites. I probably woukd have preferred your version.
 
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Pete Effamy

Pete Effamy

Member
Messages
183
Location
UK
He was never one of my favourites. I probably woukd have preferred your version.
Cheers indeed. He was a jealous sort and didn’t like my teacher, ergo his students. That was the worse he could say as I’d given a decent rendition.
 

ellinas

Senior Member
Messages
819
Location
Athens, Greece
Always after gigs ..... People say that you played really good. I had all sorts of people telling me things... Drunk people saying nonesense ..... People "teaching" me things even though they have no idea.... Others just being nice and asking for a photo. After all these years I learned one thing. To follow my 3 rules..

a) be nice with everyone and anyone. No matter what. It's the most important thing. If your band has a core audience that follows you this is super important.

b) most other musicians-bands are ultra jealous if you are successful and they express it in strange ways sometimes. Let yourself be the ultimate judge. Next time you'll play better, you'll sound better and nobody will believe how you achieved to be so different and so much better ....

c) in recordings and gigs strive to sound like yourself .... People might get confused .... But if they compare you with their idols .... That's a nice thing to hear.

Personal opinions from my journey :)
 
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