Conner Giles is a recent graduate from the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a Bachelors of Music. Although his degree is in Music Performance with a focus in Cello, Conner plays a variety of instruments. “I guess my forte is cello and guitar. Then after that I do mandolin, electric base, drums and software synth stuff,” explains Conner in a recent interview with the 402.
Growing up in Council Bluffs, Conner started taking lessons around the age of 7-years-old. “I started playing violin then I switched to cello when I was in the 4th grade.” When asked why he made the switch he explains that he too asks himself that very question. “I think at the time violins were to squeaky and bass was to humongous, therefore I chose the cello.”
He tells the 402 that his family has been very supportive of his music endeavors since the very beginning.
“My dad did a lot of what I am doing now. He went to school for music. He is definitely a musician in his heart, soul and mind,” describes Connor. He goes on to say that his dad was the one to really push him out of the “musical nest.” Always encouraging and never discouraging, his dad has watched his son grow as a musician. “My dad plays the double bass in the Omaha Symphony. My brother grew up very similar to me. He is a talented musician but focused on sports more then I did growing up.” When it came to his mom, Conner smiled and shook his head, “No oddly enough she isn’t musical. She is a huge supporter— or maybe she is just tolerant of it all,” he laughed.
Along with orchestra and all-state for cello, Conner was also in several bands growing up. In high school he was in a band called the Kanesville Boys. “The early stages of musicianship was a lot of pop, rock and alternative inspired acoustic music. Well— how do I describe it? We basically would play Radiohead covers on bluegrass instruments. It was kinda weird,” described Conner. “We took songs and played them on instruments that we wanted to use. The band was me and my friends Perry, Matt and James. We basically did whatever we wanted to do. It was interesting- very different.” Currently Conner is in a band called Skypiper as well as participates in other musical endeavors.
Inspired by several musicians, Connor told the 402 two specific that men had the largest influence on his music. “My dad inspires me. His goal was for me to figure it out on my own— to see if I really liked music for myself. He is definitely my main influence.” Connor continued by saying that he is also inspired by a Chris Thile, a mandolinist. “He has a bluegrass background but is inspired by and listens to a lot of classical music. I just love all that he does because he is looking at music, genre hopping, there is no box and it is so inspiring.” With that mindset, music doesn’t have to be put into a constricting box of rules and regulations. The underlining component that can put music in such a box is failure.
“My junior year of college I was playing in a recital,” Conner smiled. “The last movement in the piece is super lively and fast. It was all going really well then at the last thirty measures or so my memory just went- PFFT! Gone. I was scrambling. It ruined my day to say the least,” described Conner. Conner tells the 402 that moments like this one makes him think he isn’t cut out for the musical world or he just wants to quite. “As soon as I have those thoughts however, I will go back to being normal again. When I finally built enough courage to listen to the recording, I noticed that all I was focusing on was that five seconds when the rest of the performance sounded great. It is so much easier to focus on failures.”
“What that taught me was A. when you get off the stage it is never what you think it is, unless of coarse you did really well then it is exactly what you thought,” he laughed.
“B. Remind oneself just play and don’t worry about judgement. Music should be fun.”
When asked the question what he wants his students to walk away with after taking lessons, Conner responses with, “Well I think beyond anything, even beyond playing their instrument, I just want them to find out what they want to do. I feel like if I was their age again I would do a lot of things different. I would try harder at school and really find my passion in music sooner. I want them more then anything to just find that thing. Music is a good place to start.”