Part 9: What musicians expect from music journalists & critics

This is pt. 9 in our series of observations from musicians, responding to this burning question: When you read music journalism or criticism, what qualities are you looking for in the writer and the writing?

CHRIS WASHBURNE, trombonist-composer-educator (Columbia University)

I do read music journalism/criticism regularly. I am reading to learn. I want a writer that has their ear on the pulse of the newest trends. As a musician I am just too busy to constantly check out younger musicians and new bands. I let music journalists do the scoping and I will check out unknown musicians after I have had a chance to read about them. I also prefer a writer who has a solid grasp of the music’s social and stylistic history and who can provide insights about new projects which are informed by that knowledge. In terms of critiques about my own work, I also read them, but I admit that it requires some effort and self-discipline to not take things too personal. As I get older, that becomes easier.

SALIM WASHINGTON, saxophonist-composer-educator (Brooklyn College)

The main thing that I judge music criticism/journalism by is whether or not I get a sense that the writer understands what is truly at stake with the music, what it is that makes it important, and not simply, ‘I like this cat, I don’t like that one’ kind of boosterism.

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