Quentin Callewaert is not just any teenager; he’s an accomplished guitarist who continues to make adult jaws drop during each performance. His meticulous delivery of complex songs is awe-inspiring and his on-stage demeanor suggest a musician much older and experienced. It never gets old to see him slay his audiences with his virtuosic playing.
To learn more about Quentin, visit his website.
Here’s a great example of Quentin’s performance style—how many teens do you know who know how to play Doc Watson like this?
You’ve said that you started to play the guitar because of the inherent coolness of the instrument. Is there any other instrument that comes close to that coolness factor or is guitar your one and only?
When I said the guitar had an inherent coolness to it, I wasn’t lying! I always loved the way it looked in the hands of my favorite musicians. However, I do love watching jazz piano players and jazz drummers. I think the way they play and handle the instrument is incredibly cool.
Your taste in music is rather eclectic. I’ve heard you play ole-timey songs, gospel, r&b, pop, and classical. Have you discovered any new artists that have piqued your interest lately?
When I was young, I would listen to bands like the Beatles, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Led Zeppelin, as well as solo artists like Doc Watson, Jerry Reed, Merle Travis, Harry Sacksioni, and Tommy Emmanuel. Since then, I’ve been broadening my musical palette with artists like Rush, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, and most recently, The Police.
I understand that you’re starting to write some of your own songs. What can you tell us about them and what musical genre would they fit into?
I’ve been trying to write songs for a few years now, but it has only recently gotten to a point where I feel like my songs are good enough to play out in public (even though I still have a lot to learn!). I have written songs for both solo guitar and for a full band, each of various genres. They are a collection of ragtime, contemporary fingerstyle, swing and rock tunes which I hope people will enjoy.
Audiences are very impressed not only by your musical talents but your ease in public speaking. Have you always been able to express yourself from a stage or is it a skill that you’ve gotten better at over time? Do you have any tips for beginners who are just starting to appear in public?
My stage presence is something that’s developed over the years. When I first started playing in public, I was very timid, and would never talk to the audience during the show. Instead, I’d just play my set straight through, then get off the stage! After about a year though, I began to open up, and it has only improved from there! For those who are just beginning to appear in public, I can offer a few tips that hopefully will help. Firstly, I find that something as simple as standing when you play changes the entire atmosphere of a performance, and opens you up as a performer. I used to always play sitting down before I had a strap fixed to my guitar, and I found that I was always more closed off from the audience. When you’re standing up, you have more opportunities to move around and make eye contact with your audience. The second, and the most important thing, is to enjoy yourself! Music is one of the most powerful forms of expression, and it’s great fun to be able to share it with other people. Don’t be afraid to let the crowd know you’re enjoying what you’re playing as well!
Is it tough being you? Most teenagers don’t have as many demands on their time as you do. What do you like to do when you’re not making music?
Being ‘me’ is just like being anyone else in the world. Everybody has a passion for something, and everybody faces demands on their time as they work to accomplish their goals. That being said, not everybody has to go to school….
When I’m not actively making music, I’m either thinking about music, listening to music, or writing music. Even when I’m engaged in schoolwork, I constantly have a rhythm or melody in my head, or a lyric that I want to develop. It’s really a full-time job!