James Rhodes | Classical Pianist

James Rhodes

"Find what you love and let it kill you."

James Rhodes is a British classical pianist - but not in the pompous tux & tails kind of way - more in a skinny jeans, converse & cigarettes kind of way... and if there's anyone who can make an epic piece of classical piano really effin' cool - it's this dude.  Apart from writing a (soon to be released) book and creating a few TV shows for Channel 4, James sent the internet into a frenzy last April with this courageous and startlingly honest blog entry for the Guardian. James kindly elaborates in this punchy & powerful entry for theVproject...


‘Creativity is not reserved for a select few. It's available for anyone who has the courage to take it.’ Why is leaning towards creative outlets often met with fear?

Because it falls outside the logic and security we are so comfortable with. It is so intangible and therefore subjective and open to criticism by self and others. The minute we create something it belongs to us and makes it inherently personal. There is no safety net and no 'right answer' and so it's a scary prospect. But it is, of course, available to anyone. And it has to be - if we are looking for some kind of antidote to the X-Factor, entitled and formulaic world we are living in, then creativity is the most successful way to find it.

 "...perhaps most crushingly, is the realisation that I will never, ever give the perfect recital. It can only ever, with luck, hard work and a hefty dose of self-forgiveness, be 'good enough'."

Worthlessness, lack of self-belief, perfectionism – there are many blocks that prevent us from leaning into vulnerability. How do you move past them? What do those blocks & blurts look like for you? What do you think we can do to make them less controlling/dominant?

Ha! I don't know if I do move past them. It's more a case of witnessing them and accepting them and then ignoring them. For me it's an (invariably) negative voice in my head that is there before, during and after each concert explaining to me why and how I'm going to fuck up and why I don't deserve some measure of success. The best way through it is bargaining with it, allowing for the possibility it is wrong and then a kind of reprogramming where negative self talk turns into positive self talk and that can only be achieved by practising it.

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"Only when we're brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." How much of your creative process is a battle with power? Do you always find the end result empowering? Yep. Not sure if I've discovered that light yet but i've certainly seen glimpses. As with anything. if you can find the strength to go up against something terrifying and come out the other side it is always empowering - whether that's asking a pretty girl out for a drink or playing a Chopin sonata in front of 2,000 makes no difference. The important thing is to do something our heads and hearts tell us we can't do on the off chance it's all bollocks and actually we absolutely can do it. And after the first few times we start to build up proof that it is actually possible. Then it's on us to refine, improve, practise and continue. There is no end destination, just, on a good day, a feeling that everything we've always wanted but never thought we could get is achievable. Here's the maestro at work at TEDx Oxford last year ... and check out more from this mighty individual >>


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