Music editor Jason Sidwell introduces this month’s lessons with more words of wisdom.
Confidenc e is one of the most important attributes you can have as a player. Regardless of style, ability or instrument type, it’s a hugely invaluable component to how well you come across to an audience. Not only did I see this truth throughout the week I was at this year’s IGF, from students and fellow tutors, but also during discussions I’ve had with name players. For example, here’s a recent quote from studio A-lister, Allen Hinds, when I spoke to him for a recent article in GT’s sister title, Guitarist. “When I was a student at MI in LA, I sat with Robben Ford one week out of every month. Once I had got over the ‘jitters’, I saw first hand that he was human after all. The big thing I learnt from him was all successful players have one thing in common… confidence. To the point that, if I had to choose between more technique or confidence, I would take the latter every time.” Most interesting; despite the ability that Allen has, he would rather trade some of it to increase his sense of comfort and control. Of course, the question borne from this is; how to get (more) confident? Some musicians appear to be born with it, to the point that, regardless of their ability, they will perform to a very high level, seemingly effortlessly. Can seem a bit unfair, eh? Of course, there are simple and well-known solutions to puffing up one’s sense of worth (imagining the audience naked; pretending you’re your favourite guitarist; these kinds of things). But I and countless others recommend one important perspective; the more prepared you are before a gig, the better you will perform. This is because you have cultivated a solid foundation to rely on when a gig feels like tough going, or something outside of your control occurs (a band member throws a wobbler, or some great player walks in the door just as you are about to go on). By knowing the material, practising and isolating the tough sections, running a mock gig scenario on your own and with the band (very useful this!), and having all gear checked and working well, your level of confidence has a very definite reality to draw on. So, whether it’s a gig you’ve got coming up, or you’ve planned to do a one-take recording of Gary Moore’s Cold Day In Hell (page 36) in three weeks’ time to test your memory and chops, I hope your levels of confidence are directly proportionate to the amount of preparation you’ve put into your guitar playing. Now smile, and step out onto that stage!