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I have always enjoyed listening to the different rhythms in songs, even from an early age I found music something I can turn to. In primary school, I learnt classical guitar, recorder and ocarina. Not having many friends at primary school, I just focused on my music alongside playing video games and playing sports. These areas of interest were places I could be me, I could be happy. I could escape.
There was a time during my secondary school years, when I was struggling. I was very quiet at school and not so popular, I found it hard to make friends, and I turned to music. I would spend my lunchtimes playing piano in the music classroom and there I found a different set of friends, other kids who were also into music.
At the time I would only listen to top chart music and didn't really spend any time expanding my musical horizon although I did expand my instrument collection, by and adding flute & piano to my list.
Things turned a corner when I first started college, I was spending every day doing something I loved and was good at! I was suddenly more confident, bubbly and outgoing, I found that I was able to help my fellow students through my musical ability and gradually I found my friendship group growing, to include people of all different ages and talents.
I was living my life.
I soon found that it would be my Music Theory class that would open the door for me to other types of music. I was now listening to many different genres that I never even heard of before. I discovered many new artists and bands that developed my musical knowledge immensely. It made me experiment a bit, by bringing back what I learned in my guitar lessons from primary school, and incorporating recently learned chords, scales & styles. I even started to branch out to bass.
Throughout my three years of college, I started to experiment more and more with music and discovered how to change around classic tracks in Improv classes. This is where I found out that I'm not a soloist, I'm more of a rhythm guitarist. With this in mind, I decide to focus my rhythm pattern playing. Around this time we formed a band. I had never had this before and loved every minute of it; jamming sessions, creating set lists, making covers our own, being on stage with my friends & having an amazing time.
During the second year of college, I decide to start singing as well as playing piano and guitar. I loved my voice but had been too scared to sing in front of a crowd, especially on stage or in front of a group but now we found ourselves with no singers on our course so it gave me the boost I needed to attempt it.
Between college finishing and uni starting, I went through a dark patch. However I was able to take something positive from it; these experiences, they give you life lessons and I was able to plough all I was going through into my songwriting.
My songwriting ability blossomed while I was at university but I was now meeting new people who, I felt, had so much more talent than me. This was the battle ground that made me toughen up and really hone my performing skills, theory skills and social skills.
I quickly found that being on stage, singing to audiences, held no fear for me. Sure, I was nervous before I went on but when you're on stage, the spotlight takes away the faces and makes you feel that you're performing to a empty hall. I was able to just let go and have fun. This is where I found my confidence, performing on my own, with my own voice for the first time and not having a band there for support.
During this time, I was going instrument crazy! I had so many instruments that I was running space in my room: five guitars, a mandolin, banjo, ukulele, flute, cajon, and a piano!!
In the third year, I changed my guitar playing direction by going into percussive playing. I listened to such great artists; Jon Gomm, Newton Faulkner, Preston Reed. I was lucky enough to interview Preston via video chat and to meet Newton Faulkner at one of the many gigs of his I went to. This inspired me to further develop my guitar percussion playing.
That year, I made my own EP called Tale of Souls with tracks using percussive elements added to my songwriting elements and rhythm too. Many people really liked the tracks on the EP and encouraged me to make more pieces.
Near the end of the third year I had to coordinate my own music event, promote it, sign up some great local acts and get an audience to come along. It turned out to be the greatest event I ever did and I aim to to organise many more events in the future!
A few months after graduating university, with a 2:1, my confidence slowly begin to dip back towards where I was at secondary school. I only realised this recently. I would get into a mind set where, I'd sign up for a gig a month in advance and get really excited about it excited only to feel increasingly nervous during the week leading up to it, so much so that the anxiety would make me sick and I would have to cancel.
I found that I had started to compare myself to other musicians on the same scene as me. It's the worse thing you can do to yourself! I was questioning everything I did, my songwriting wasn't going well and I would often throw away possible lyrics, feeling that they weren't good enough. Even trying to compose on the guitar, something that I used to love, I kept thinking I wasn't good enough. I got to the point where I simply stopped trying. Music has been put to the back of my mind for a while.
When I hear great classical music or even pop music on the radio or in films I start to get excited about playing my piano again but when sitting at it I lose motivation again. I still always sing around the house though. I am missing playing with other musicians, not just in a band but back when we would all turn up for the same gig and play solo. I miss that group of people from university now that we have all gone our separate ways, doing gigs without them is just not the same.
Trying to find the confidence to get back into songwriting and performing is something I am struggling with and I just wish I could turn off the negativity & find away to come out of my shell and free again?