Following Your Inspiration Makes You Confident

Trist Hendy playing bass with NativeJune

This week saw 3 fabulous interviews with very different musicians and the last of the interviews of the week was with the remarkable musician and performer, Tristan Hendy from signed PunkPop band NativeJune. Everything about Tristan’s personality oozes a natural and energetic confidence about music. Over here in the South West of England for only a few weeks but living in Los Angeles the rest of the time, it is fair to say that Tristan has a naturally sunny disposition and I was determined to interview him about what makes him a confident performer. I was a little unsure what might come out in the interview as Tristan may not be aware of what makes him a confident musician. It became apparent in the interview that Tristan has developed this confidence and now after playing bass with NativeJune for 6 years, having been one of the founder members, he has achieved a level of confidence which is truly sustainable and he plays, writes and performs with this confidence.

Having seen some of the band’s performances from their website, www.nativejune.com I was under no illusion that their confidence was fake and their energy purely for stage effect. The energy is real, the performances are powerful and the audiences love them. I asked Tristan had he always been confident as a performer and he said no. Recounting a story of childhood panic whilst playing a piano solo of The Jurassic Park theme tune, he pretty much crumbled through nerves.

Tristan's Piano Album Cover

This didn’t stop him from playing the piano and he still composes, performs and records his own material which is available from www.tristanhendy.com The material is an amazing mix of influences from a wide range of sources combining techniques which are wonderfully rocky and not your usual sedentary piano compositions one has come to expect from self-composed solo piano albums. It is clear that performing his own compositions is an area of massive inspiration for Tristan.

The composition theme is a familiar one in Tristan’s outlook. Whenever he talks about amazing experiences, amazing gigs and successful outcomes, he is always talking about the material that he or the band has written. This is really food for thought. On the music course I teach with my colleagues, we have always known that when students play their own material, they develop their confidence because they feel a connection and a passion with the music. NativeJune have taken this to the next level touring the music across America and soon to be touring it across the UK and Europe. Confidence always grows and you have to capitalise on it.

Native June

Whilst in conversation, the energy is also apparent and Tristan’s outgoing character comes across brilliantly. The overriding sense I get from talking with him, is in no way about arrogance at all but a real sense that Tristan is following his inspiration and pursuing his dream. It is utterly contagious and is something which instils confidence and excitement in anybody who is around him. It is interesting to meet somebody who is 6 years down the road of following his inspiration and to see what it can do for you and your confidence. I couldn’t help getting the feeling that Tristan must be like a Roman soldier ready to go into battle before he goes on stage, fighting for the Rome of his musical inspiration. I urge you to listen to the interview with Tristan and download it from here. He is a powerful role model for any performer and has inspired me to start writing my own piano pieces.

Tristan had excellent tips which are really worth taking on-board.

  • Develop your confidence by playing the things you want to play.
  • Play in a band as it is easier if there are 3 or 4 other musicians on stage – this will develop your confidence.
  • When you are playing solo material, develop your confidence by playing your own material. Nobody knows it better than you!
  • If you go wrong on stage, HEY! IT WAS MEANT TO BE THAT WAY!
  • Play background music gigs to develop confidence for solo playing.
  • Tell yourself “I am the best person at playing this song because I wrote the part!”
  • The fear of the unknown goes when you do it more and more. The more you play your set the more confident you will be.
  • Most performers are out there because their love and drive for wanting to play the material is stronger than their fear of playing in front of an audience.
  • Never turn down an opportunity to play (unless it is paying to play.)
  • Playing sober will help you play and we agreed it is much more sustainable.
  • If it helps, imagine your audience has no clothes on! (…only if it helps)
  • Play again and again – it develops your muscle memory of the songs.
  • Invite friends over to a practice space to hear new songs. It will give you confidence in new material before you go on stage.
  • When recording in the studio, remember that you wrote the parts. Always keep the parts playable but aim to get better and better.  The parts you write are a playoff between being playable and being slightly ambitious.
  • When recording, get the energy that you have when you play live. Set up the session to make this possible. Capture the live performance.

Check out NativeJune at www.nativejune.com and Tristan’s solo piano work at www.tristanhendy.com

Listen to the interview at http://www.clivestockerweb.co.uk/tristan.zip

Confident Performer is written by Clive Stocker

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About clivemusic

I have taught music, enabling musicians to be confident about performing for over 20 years. I also train teachers and trainers to be confident in the classroom. Keyboard, piano and composing, arranging and singing are my musical loves. I love performing and play Jazz with a Quartet and also sing and direct my own Barbershop Quartet called The Sherlock Combs. I used to be an incredibly nervous performer, suffering from stage fright and through teaching music and learning many mind training techniques, come with me on a journey to confident performing.
This entry was posted in Improving Confidence in others, performance strategies, Strategies for recording., Thinking in a better way and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Following Your Inspiration Makes You Confident

  1. kat says:

    I’ve just found your site and it’s well wicked! thank you for your inspirational interviews. Where I live, it is an etremely boring, conservative city and I’m finding it so incredibly difficult to find anyone to play with. It seems everyone just keeps to themselves and doesn’t want to perform with an aspiring jazz singer like myself. I mean, I am a 29 year old gal who has been singing billy holiday since I was five! not easy to find people interested in jazz let alone blues, soul etc. Sometimes I feel like giving up but I find the more obstacles I face, the more I pursue my dream. All I want to do is cut a record one day. So hard though. But hey I’ll keep visiting your site and getting inspiration. thanks again.

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    • clivemusic says:

      Thank you for your kind comments about the site, I am acting on my own inspiration here too, I love helping people to perform and I am writing a book which I am researching for and writing at the moment. I think if you are singing Billy Holiday and have been since you are 5, that is a pretty good basis for getting out there and doing your thing. The good thing is, that there are no barriers any more for following our inspirations. There are many activities you can do to move forward and get gigging and recording. In times gone by, people would have to perform with a band and if they wanted to cut a record, they would have to hire expensive studio time and then tit would be very difficult to release the record themselves. These days, it is totally different. Many artists and singers now use Youtube to get started, recording home performances, however rough to get feedback and then uploaded new recordings each and every week and start to get a bit of a following. This is a really fun way to approach the career and the feedback you get is so motivating as a performer. Every bit of feedback is a bit of a boost, your comments on here inspire me to write an article on how to make the first steps. ACT NOW is my advice. I will list a few ideas which may help you to take the next steps. Let me know how you feel about each one and I can track this road to success on the site. There is nothing better than a real journey. 🙂
      1. List the songs you can already sing
      2. Pick a song which you would want to perform/record first
      3. Find a backing track on http://www.ameritz.co.uk/ (or a similar site) of the song in your key. A good backing track is also really inspiring and motivating. I record with students and my niece and nephew with these and it draws us in and makes the results better. They are less than a UK pound and easy to work with and download and all legal.
      4. Practice singing to the backing track.
      5. Route one is to perform live on a video camera and sing to the backing track and then upload the video to Youtube. This may sound like a low quality solution but the results are often quite good in terms of sound quality and many many people get thousands of hits and start generating some interest really easily.
      5. Alternatively Find some software – if you have a mac, GarageBand is really useful for this. It is easy to use and the results are very good. Just import the backing track and then plug in a mic or even use the in built mic if you have one to get started. You do not have to do it all in one take.
      6. Export the whole track of backing with your vocal and you will have a file which you can prepare for upload to Youtube.
      7. Making a video from the file and then upload this to Youtube.
      8. Post your video as response to other songs on Youtube. This generates a really good response and I know some students find it quite addictive, posting regular weekly videos of cover songs, or original songs they have written. One such artist is Gabrielle Aplin, an ex student from City of Bath College where I work who got into the top 10 on iTunes this January. She is a great singer and song writer and works very hard at her craft.
      9. Send people your links to songs and youtube channel, send them to local musicians you want to work with, send them to venues and get some response from them.
      10. Go to open mic nights in your area and perform the odd track with a backing track. Look out for pianists or guitarists who could back you, live backing music is always so nice.
      11. If you get enough responses from a venue, you could even book yourself a gig with backing tracks or with one of these pianists or guitarists.
      12. Send to Radio Stations and see if you can get a guest spot.
      Hopefully that will get you started! Any of that sound too difficult?

      Let me know what you think.
      Good luck!

      Like

      • kat says:

        Just want to up-date you; I have taken the first two initial steps and brought my guitar (yayness) and made a YouTube account. Next I’ll find some backing music. Slowly finding my courage bones.

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      • clivemusic says:

        How do you feel about taking your steps? I am proud that you are taking action. Action is the quickest way to make new things happen for you. Can you post a link to something to something you have done?

        Like

      • kathleen says:

        Oh I haven’t got that far just yet lolz…but when I do I’ll keep you in the loop on this scary, scary journey of mine.

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      • clivemusic says:

        The journey is exciting! what song have you chosen?

        Like

  2. Liz says:

    Hi Clive. I’m a student of Basira’s and i briefly met you last sunday at the Frome friends of Palestine meal. I’ve just been listening to a few of the interviews that you did with Basira and found it all very inspirational as i hope to become a professional choral singer in the future. However i suffer from social/performance anxiety, so therefore i find it hard to get the audience out of my head when i am performing and find that i’m very critical about my abilities as a musician. I hope to be able to get to the stage where i am comfortable with performing, whether that be singing or playing the piano, with out having the dread of something going horribly wrong because i’m extremely passionate about music, but i feel that my lack of confidence really gets in the way of being able to fulfill my potential. Hopefully hear from you soon. Liz Kelly

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    • clivemusic says:

      Hi Liz, thank you for kind words about the interviews. Everyone suffers from nerves and anxiety at some point or other and to some extent, all the time! I am a bit worried that you want to get the audience out of your head. I think that the audience need to be thought of and cared for like a loving relative. Where would you like them to go on a journey to? where would you like to take them.
      Being critical as a musician is a good thing for sure – just remember that we are either getting better and there is nothing else on the road of our career. Richard Bandler writes about this in his books. So, what I mean by this is that at the end of a performance, whether it goes well or not so well, you only have one choice, what will you do next? That is the only thing to think. At the end of the performance I did 2 weeks ago with “Inspirition” which the last article is about, I was so excited by the music and the performance. I loved the energy of the performers and Isabel in particular. I made quite a few mistakes in terms of endings. I am an experienced performer now so I know I will just identify the areas that I need to change to get better. I didnt play the structures of the pieces accurately and some of the endings either came as a bit of a surprise to me or to Isabel as I didn’t really learn them properly. Now. what do I do next? Tell myself I am a bad musician for making mistakes? or to never play again? NO! I will sit down with the headphones on and a pen and paper and write the structure down and learn them. Next time I will know where they come in and where they end and I have something to aim for. I am now not beating myself up, but giving myself a new positive goal. Does that make sense? Think of a performance you would have liked to have gone better. Ask yourself what didn’t go so well. What could you do to make sure that it goes differently and better next time? It is all about taking actions that get you closer towards what you want. What actions are you going to take? There are many many techniques you can use for anxiety. I am working on my improvisation skills at the moment as I still have a way to go. I have decided after all these years to make actions not excuses! It is hard sometimes!
      So – what do you want to change?
      What action will take do to get better? No judgements, just actions and your goals.

      Clive

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  3. Liz says:

    Hi Clive,

    Thank you for your advice.

    I think the thing i need to change is the way i view the audience and the way i view myself. I always seem to view the audience in a negative light, as if they’re going to penalise me if i make a mistake in my performance or think badly of me (even if its just my family). This then leads to me worrying about a concert weeks in advance because i’ll be thinking about all possible situations that could go wrong (Instead of focusing on the work and thinking about the positive aspects of a performance).

    I would love to be able to give a concert without the worry of the audience ‘judging’ my ability or what they’ll think of me, especially on the piano, because i find it harder to get into the ‘zone’ on the piano rather than when i sing. There are SO many confident musicians out there, that i know that if i don’t get my act together soon then i’ll never get anywhere because lets face it, no one wants to watch a performer who is shaking with nerves or is embarrassed!!! I understand that making a mistake in a concert isn’t always a bad thing but i seem to build it up into this massive thing in my head, so that when i do perform, i’m so worried about not going wrong that i often do. I suppose it’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Is it possible to gain confidence in yourself and your musical abilities, if you’re not a naturally confident person? If so, whats the best way to go about it?

    Liz

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    • clivemusic says:

      Ok – lets take the points one by one.
      “I think the thing i need to change is the way i view the audience and the way i view myself.”
      This is great place to start. How would you like to view them? Why are the audience there? I presume they are there to listen to music and hopefully to be entertained. There is a very good saying which is: Energy Flows where the Focus Goes. So if the focus goes on the audience being nasty to you, your subconscious does everything in its power to attract that bad energy and you exhibit it to the audience. Footballers when taking a penalty often deliberately (on a subconscious level) kick the ball over the net. Why do they do this? To end it all as quickly as possible and bring the derision that they were seeking in the first place. I used to do this a lot. I would think about I MUST NOT MAKE A MISTAKE. what happens? I make mistakes big time. My subconscious gives me what I think about. What should I be thinking about?
      I think about music. I am a musician. If i feel distracted, It is because I need to focus more on the music to share that with the audience.
      What should you be thinking?

      I always seem to view the audience in a negative light, as if they’re going to penalise me if i make a mistake in my performance or think badly of me (even if its just my family). This then leads to me worrying about a concert weeks in advance because i’ll be thinking about all possible situations that could go wrong (Instead of focusing on the work and thinking about the positive aspects of a performance).
      This is a little bit of a habit really. We get into cycles in this sort of thing. You are focusing on negative energy and you are bringing more of it into your life. It is nothing to judge yourself on, just the way it is really. My own life was the same, I would republish bad memories and swamp any good feelings with bad ones.
      So what should you focus on? Focus on a good performance. One that you really enjoyed. What was good about it? WHY was it good? Fill your thoughts with these good experience and pick apart the actions that took place. It may have seemed like good luck at the time. IT WAS NOT. it was you, bringing a few key things together together to make it something special. There are some musicians I work with that just make me feel a million dollars and I love working with them. We have fun and laugh in rehearsals and the music is so special as a result. I now prepare properly – I used to NOT do that – just underprepare and tell myself I was not very good for having to do more rehearsing and practicing than others… WRONG! Professionals practice till it cannot go wrong. WHATEVER! there are other strategies to cope with difficult music which I won’t go into here but it is all great!
      SO BRING in to your mind the memory of a good gig/concert and focus it brightly – analyse it. Tell US about it.

      no one wants to watch a performer who is shaking with nerves or is embarrassed!!!
      You are right. You are not thinking enough about the music and your performance. You need to look at your scores and know what you want to get from them and what they mean to you.

      making a mistake in a concert isn’t always a bad thing but i seem to build it up into this massive thing in my head
      Yep! You said it! The best musicians make mistakes. You have to remember that mistakes are not dog’s mess on your shoes. They are an opportunity for you to forgive yourself and get on with the music. We all smile in my band when we make a big mistake. It isnt important. I have heard, made, experienced some big ones and laughed them off. The audience forgives you if you are focused on the music.

      i’m so worried about not going wrong that i often do. I suppose it’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
      Not really. You mind gives you what you think about. What should you be thinking?

      There are SO many confident musicians out there, that i know that if i don’t get my act together soon then i’ll never get anywhere How old are you? How old is too old to get anywhere? My friend Doreen started writing books after the age of 70 and has had 6 or 7 published. So she may beg to differ on your theory! My inspiration changes and I am always finding new performance opportunities to do new things, conducting, singing and playing the piano and guitar. Will your career be doing one thing? I wanted to be a concert pianist when I was 18 and didn’t get there. Does that mean I failed? I dont think so. I earn my living through teaching and playing music. I Love it. focus on the inspiration and not the goal. As soon as I failed my audition for the Guildhall Piano course when I was 18, I felt relief and discovered a whole new world of singing and arranging which I would have not discovered. Nothing is fixed. What is your inspiration, why not follow it?

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      • Liz says:

        I’m 19, but will be turning 20 this year. I’ve just taken my grade 8 on the piano and am taking my grade 8 singing again in june. I’m also hoping to do my DipABRSM in singing sometime next year. I auditioned for places at colleges such as the Guildhall, RCM, Trinity Laban etc to study singing, however they all said i was to young and didn’t have enough experience, so therefore i didn’t get in anywhere this time round. I am hoping to try again in a couple of years time though. 🙂

        How come you never re-applied for a place at the guildhall and followed your dream? I’ve always said to people that i want to sing in a professional chamber choir such as The Sixteen. That is what really drives me to achieve the best because i want it so badly. I don’t know what i’d do if i couldn’t sing or do something musical for a living.

        However my musical inspiration doesn’t just come from singers. I’m also really inspired by concert pianists such as Sviatoslav Richter, Glenn Gould and Josef Hofmann. I get the feeling that when they play, they are so absorbed in their music, that it has a direct effect on the audience because their passion and respect for their instrument really comes across when they play. I also like the fact that they are all technically brilliant and that they’ve mastered their instrument.

        At the moment, i have a goal set in my mind, which is to become a professional choral singer. I know i’ll have to go into teaching and am very willing to as i would like to pass on my skills and knowledge to other people. However if i never reach that goal then i will feel as though i’ve let myself down or that i’d tried for nothing as i obviously wasn’t good enough.

        The view that i take when thinking about my inspirations in life is that it is possible because people have managed to get their. People ARE singing with The Sixteen and it IS possible to play your scales at ‘100mph’ because people do. So therefore so can i.
        I feel that the reason most people get to where want is down to a lot of time and effort (with the exception of some people) Therefore if i put in the time and the effort then surely i can achieve that level of musicianship. However there is a lot of competition because lots of people are very good… thats where i fall down because they have the confidence and i don’t.

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      • clivemusic says:

        Hi Liz,

        I think that it is great that you get your inspiration from other performers and not just singers! That is a sign of a greta musician. The voice is only one instrument and singers that just emulate voice are missing so much. The musical sound is a broader beast!

        Well done for auditioning for the range of courses or which you have been applying. This is really great – you have the conviction to follow through what you want to do. This is excellent. Regarding my own reaudition for Guildhall, at the time they had an upper age limit of 19 on students entering on that course so I was going to be too old if I reapplied. This was actually a relief for me because I found practicing for these things rather soul destroying because I wanted to write music and sing as well as play piano. Classical piano took up so much of my time and it wasnt really where I wanted to be. The fact I was relieved said it all! I enjoyed playing for the panel though. It was great. My sight reading was so poor though that it would have taken me 2 years to get to anything like the ability I needed to be to pass the audition. Was I prepared to do this? Even if the upper age limit had been 23, I would have had to say NO i was not prepared to do this.

        In the meantime I had found a course at Bath Spa University which I LOVED. I wanted to go there. I fell in love with the place and the range of opportunities it gave musicians. I got to sing, compose, conduct and do loads of technical things. I realised that my inspiration was broader and more about making music happen. I learned how to stage and rehearse concerts and learn blues and a bit of Jazz. Amazing times and amazing people. Looking back on it, my poor sight reading would have made for a miserable 3 years on the course at the guildhall, and I am so relieved I found a course which enabled my career to progress in a better direction. It may seem hard for you to believe but there it is!

        I learned very early on that I didnt need to be the best to be good. I also realised that I could organise and arrange music for the great vocal ensemble I sing in called Adlib which was formed at college. We are still together 20 years later… We love singing and we sing what we want to sing. There is nothing stopping you from organising your own group and making things happen that way. A great way to gain experience. If I waited to be asked to do things, then I would not be doing much at all! So what opportunities could you make happen? Could you organise a vocal group? could you make something happen? Get some experience as a conductor? What experience are the courses looking for?
        I was nervous about conducting and then I realised that so few people out there wanted to do it. They found it a bit stressful. I found it ok and it was so lovely being able to stop and put right all the things I heard that were not quite right in a group’s performance. Love it!
        So ! after my long ramble, exactly what do you need to do to be considered more favourably at your next audition?
        Make a list of things you could make happen.
        Could you put on a concert?
        Play piano in it? Sing in it?
        Get a couple of vocal groups together?
        You know Basira which is a great starting place for concert and gig opportunities.

        What would you do if you knew you couldnt fail?

        Clive

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  4. Liz says:

    I was thinking about Bath Spa, however i not very academic so thats why i’m more drawn towards the conservatoires. It sounds as though not going to the Guildhall turned out ok in the end because you got loads of experience in other things rather than just classical piano. That was one of the reasons i was interested in Bath Spa, because they gave you the opportunity to do conducting!!! Jazz or Blues isn’t really my cup of tea so i’ve never really done much group work with a band but have been singing in a Chamber choir since the age of 15.

    I think if i knew i couldn’t fail then i’d definitely do more performing on the piano and really push for some conducting experience. I’d accompany singers for their grades or recitals, Enter competitions (piano and voice) I’d even think about auditioning on the piano, as well as singing, at music colleges in a couple of years. I know that sounds mad but if i couldn’t fail then i wouldn’t have anything to lose.

    I could happily sit down at the piano all day and practise… (Once i practised for 8 hours, and would do every day but i’ve got A levels) I get a real buzz from it because i can see my improvement as days go by. Some people think i’m a bit dull as i enjoy perfecting my scales and arpeggios. However i wouldn’t want to go into the piano professionally, not because i wouldn’t want to put in the practise, but because i couldn’t face going on stage and playing in front of all though’s people. Too stressful… It’s funny though because my parents say that i seem to have more interest in the piano than i do with singing, with regards to who i admire and look up to. I love reading about pianists such as Richter and Evgeny Kissin. (Especially Evgeny Kissin), and yet i don’t really do that much reading at all on singers.

    I can remember ever since i was about 10, (Before i found my love for chamber singing) i used to say to people that i wanted to be a conductor when i was older. I’ve never had the opportunity to conduct a choir but have asked Basira on several occasions, showing her the pieces that i’d like to do. Sadly she’s never agreed for one reason or another… On the plus side she’s given me loads of concert and gig opportunities. I’ve done workshops with the Sons of Arca and a workshop for a soundtrack for a film/ T.V for a music producing company who are based in London. She puts student concerts on about once a year, but i get lots of performance opportunities with her chamber choir (BellAcappella).

    Thanks for the email by the way. I replied and would definitely be interested in talking about confidence issues in more depth to try and become more confident. However (Like i mentioned in my reply) would it be better to meet in person rather than discussing it over the phone because it’s quite a complex topic… Let me know what your opinion is on this.

    Liz

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