The Confident Musician

One of the greatest tools available to you as a musician is confidence. In fact, it should be as essential to you as scales. It should be as familiar to you as your repertoire. Why? Because music is a emotive nuance-driven force. There are so many variables to music, that to say that something has a great melody is not nearly enough. A great melody can be overshadowed by awkward phrasing which shaves milliseconds from notes, which is the actual physical sound. A millisecond difference in how your ears and brain perceive the vibrations of music, can drastically alter the fundamental experience of music. Our music is seemingly held captive by the tiny, almost imperceptible variations of time.

Okay…before I lose everyone in the psuedo-analyitical nature of the frames that hold our music…let’s bring it back to practise.

Confidence plays out in a really tangible way with drummers. A drummer without confidence does something funny. They will have a hint of hesitancy when they play. But what happens when a drummer is hesitant? What happens when the groove-machine is malfunctioning by milliseconds? The moment of connection between the drum stick and the drum skin is altered. It is usually played milliseconds later than it should have been. It is in this detail, this nuance that the drummer loses…”it”. Our highly evolved musical terminology has brought us to this wonderful realisation of ‘it”. The drummer either has “it” or he doesn’t. And a drummer who hesitates a little, hasn’t got “it”. A drummer who hesitates a lot, plays out of time. This “it”, I believe refers to Groove. But not some nebulous groove, to a central syncing up of the collective players in this musical outing. This is where confidence can come striding in.

Confidence, found upon skill, is going to help. And to a lesser extent; confidence, without skill is going to help. A drummer who believes in themselves will start to hit more like they should, no hesitancy, they are less likely to play out of time. This applies itself to all instruments. You are going to play better if you apply confidence, which in turn will lessen hesitation, and will cause the physical sound, the physical timing to change in your playing.

Nice thoughts, but how can this idea become attainable to me? …Good question…I’m glad you asked.

Firstly, practise.
There is no better source to draw confidence from than a awareness and assurance of your skill. If you can nail that solo, you can be confident about it. If you aren’t sure you are ready to play that solo in front of a crowd, your confidence is going to be affected. A honest evaluation that says your skill is at the level of what you are about to attempt to play, is the biggest vein from which to draw confidence.

Secondly, imagine.
Take a few moments before a gig or performance and just imagine. Put yourself in the place of where you are playing that which is ahead of you. See yourself nailing the bits that have caused you some worry. See yourself doing it effortlessly. This is a simple way of saying no to the stress and worry, and a practical outworking of “as a man thinks in his heart…”. Now, again, this skill will get you so far…but doesn’t negate the need, the absolute essential necessity of practise and preparation. But it will help! It will be the extra top-up that you need. It will be the thing that can help you calm and focus on the task at hand. It has been helpful for me.

How can you apply this to your musicality? What performances, services and assessments could this help you with?

Would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives on the matter.


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