Michael Green Interviews.... Bruce Carson
Originally posted on December 16th 2020 here is a Q&A with pianist Bruce Carson. He talked about his experiences in music.
Where did it all start for you getting into music?
I think I’ve always had music in me, I liked singing along to songs and learning the words and I didn’t mind singing them in front of people. I would even write the lyrics down for songs in a notebook I had, the first song I wrote the lyrics to was Will 2k by Will Smith. My family is quite musical too, my brothers both had musical talent in singing and keyboard and my grandad on my mothers side always sang and he could play the harmonica. My dad played guitar and his brother played just about every instrument you can think of. The rest of my family in Scotland all play a variety of instruments from banjos, violins and flutes and I remember we used to sing a lot of folk songs whenever I went to visit. The first time I tried the keyboard was on a visit to Scotland, I was 8 years old and my dad showed me how to play Van Halen Love Walks In. From then I just kept learning new songs on my own. Who are your influences? My family are definitely the main influence, but I have a variety of musical tastes that play a part in my life. From rap legends like Will Smith, Eminem and Tupac to Rock artists such as Van Halen, Iron Maiden and Rolling Stones. Plus I am always listening to music from films, adverts and anything where it is in the background. My musical taste isn’t limited, I love all music. How do you decide what songs to play as a pianist? Most of the time it’s the music that resonates best within me, I definitely have favourite songs that I prefer to play, like anything from studio ghibli. I am happy to suit the needs of the general population so I learn what’s trending at the time and I make sure I always know the classics like Bohemian Rhapsody, or the Harry Potter theme and the Disney favourites. The general idea is that I want to be able to suit the needs of any person, that means adjusting to the crowd at the time and making sure I understand the venue that I am playing for.
How important is it do you feel it is to listen to current music as well as music from the past?
It’s probably the most important thing and this applies to all disciplines. Always ask the question “What has been done in the past and why did it work really well ?” Then ask “What is going on now and how can I stand out from everyone else?” At the end of the day everything in the past influences the future, because it’s about learning what works and doesn’t work and always improving on the things that performed well.
Do you feel it is important to watch other acts perform and to watch other live music?
Yes of course, it gives you a chance to meet other people that do what you love. Plus if you get the chance to speak with those acts it can lead to collaborations, extra work and just general advice and improvements for yourself.
I’ve only recently started collaborating with musicians and getting out performing myself because I’ve always been a little scared to get out there. Everyone gets the nerves because it’s natural but once you take the first leap of faith into the industry you’ll find it’s the best thing you could have ever done.
Finally what tips do you have for anyone starting out when it comes to learning piano & performing live?
You can never practice enough. I always say that you can’t practice until you get it right. You have to practice until you can’t get it wrong.
Expect nothing from anyone and always do your best when performing live, roll with the punches. If someone throws you a curve ball, deal with it. There will be bad shows and good shows, the point is to learn from both types of experiences.
Presentation is important, you want to think about how people view you from the outside, you may feel great on the inside and have incredible talent, but impressions are made on presentation. Playing music is an act just the same as any other performer. Conduct yourself in a way that suits you but gives an addictive aura to you, find out your best assets and exaggerate them, because those are the things that come most natural to you.
Last but not least, don’t limit yourself. Try the best, if you’re going to do something, be better than everyone else. The best way to do this is to get as much advice as possible from the best of the best.
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