Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Critics

Richard I. Garber commented here about voluntary/involuntary audiences. Yes, indeed, I refer often in "Speak Up" to the differences between the two and how they need to be treated. But how do we treat the 1 or 2 members of a voluntary audience who are there to critique or distract or who knows what? What do you do when you can see your competition in the audience and know that they're there to criticize? I didn't have an answer until a few days later when I attended an orchestra concert at which a group of conservatory students in front of me wanted to make sure that everyone knew that they, too, were brilliant musicians. No matter how loud their comments, they only affected 6 people at most. The rest of the audience–probably 800 people–remained attentive to the stage. Although one would ordinarily treat the show-offs as an involuntary audience, their effect was so minimal that they weren't worth consideration. At a presentation I did a few days ago, one man arrived early, took a seat at the back of the room, and began to read a newspaper. He read his paper for the next hour and a half. I have no idea why he was there. But his disinterested energy was far outweighed by the enthusiastic energy of the larger audience and, therefore, didn't deserve special treatment.

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