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Music Critics detect good music from bad music. They don’t have to play music; they just have to love it and listen to it. Samuel Taylor Coleridge perfectly described the job when he said, “An ear for music is very different from a taste for music. I have no ear whatever; I could not sing an air to save my life; but I have the intensest delight in music, and can detect good from bad.”
As a Music Critic, you’re employed by newspapers, magazines, and websites not only to listen to music but also to critique it, often as a specialist in a genre, such as rock, classical, or jazz.
In addition to taste, therefore, you must have knowledge when you’re a Music Critic. That doesn’t mean you have to sing or play the violin; it does, however, mean that you need to know what a good Vocalist sounds like, and what factors — tempo, acoustics, and arrangement, for instance — impact an orchestral performance. In other words, along with what you like, you must know why you like it. That requires studying music history, technique, and style so your opinions hold water, both with Musicians and with audiences.
While informing and forming them is important, your primary job is communicating your opinions, typically in the form of written reviews that you compose after listening to a recording or watching a live performance.
Because your best reviews both describe and analyze the auditory experience you’ve just had, think of yourself like an aural Tour Guide: Music is a foreign language; it’s your job to translate it.