Interview with John Barnard

Interview with John Barnard


Through-out the course of this Calming Music blog I have discovered and had the privilege of listening to some wonderful music.

It has been a pleasure to correspond with some of these fine musicians.  So much so, that some of these musicians have contributed to the calming music featured here at Calming Music Weekly.

As a result, I thought that it might be an idea to start an interview series, so that you the reader can get to know more about the featured musicians – their hopes, their reasons why they write and play music, who they are and what they do.

The first in this interview series is John Barnard.  John has kindly added several songs into the mix of this site and its pages, for which we are extremely grateful.


CMW – John, What was the first instrument you learnt ?JohnBarnard

JB – I began classical piano lessons in the UK at the age of 8 and completed Grades 1 – 8 successfully. I gave a recital at my primary school concert once at the age of 11 and was rewarded with a write up in the local paper which praised my ‘brilliant piano solos’ consisting mainly of Mozart Sonatas. I then neglected my music for over 30 years.

CMW – You are a fantastic and very talented musician.  What is your main instrument ?

JB – Besides having private lessons for pianoforte I also learned how to play the clarinet at school.

CMW – Your calming music style is beautiful and you are well known for this particular style.  Can you give us a little bit of background about how you got involved in calming music and what led you to become such an expert ?

JB – No one was more surprised than myself when I discovered that I could compose music. I was going through a period of personal crisis.  With time on my hands and much to reflect on, I went to my keyboard, more for solace than anything, but I couldn’t help thinking that maybe this was the last ‘play’ before considering selling it. All thoughts of disposing of the instrument however were put aside when, remarkably, I discovered that I could compose… and it was at that precise moment that my life took on a whole new meaning.  So, in 1993 after a few months of constant practice, arranging and recording, I had sufficient content to formulate an album.

Possessing insufficient funds to manufacture a CD, I made a master cassette and dubbed off a hundred copies.  I designed the labels and the cover assembling them all, one by one, which took about 150 hours.  My problem then was what to do with them. So I rang the local radio station and announced, on air, my achievement. To my astonishment I received 60 calls in the next few hours. By the weekend I had sold the lot, necessitating in my having to run off another 100 copies to meet demand as the Sunday paper had got hold of the story too.

So I set myself a goal of producing an album that would be good enough for a CD and then have it signed to a record company. I reckoned it would take me two years, so I carved a path in my mind that nobody was going to cross, closed the front door and got on with it.  I managed to find a local second hand shop in the vicinity and picked up a few items like a reel to reel tape recorder and a second keyboard in time. All the music was put onto tape until I had saved up enough to buy a digital audio tape recorder on to which I recorded everything.John_Barnard_BeyondTheClouds

I practiced for up to twelve hours a day for all those months and years, arranging, recording and listening to my compositions until I was finally satisfied with my creation.  I sent demo tapes off to two record companies. Lo and behold they both came back wanting to license the album. I signed with the larger of the two labels and the title was decided upon… ‘Beyond The Clouds’.
Precisely two years since I had set my goal, on January 29th 1995, I received my initial quota of fifty CDs. I was unable to play it though, as I did not possess a CD player!

I experienced a feeling of well being, as if, one by one, my emotional conflicts were being miraculously healed.

I received a fax out of the blue stating that British Airways would like to commission the album for a year to be played on all their long haul flights, worldwide and did I have any other releases they could listen to !  Well I was flabbergasted. Actually I nearly panicked…..

But one morning, I experienced a remarkably warm and content state of mind and I distinctly recall as if I was being shepherded to my studio, thinking, “There is a time for everything “.
Two weeks later I had completed ‘The Changing Years’.

Whilst selling CDs of ‘calming music’ is not the easiest business to market and advertise, I was well pleased with the ever growing mailing list and the hundreds of letters from consumers of my music from all over Australia and overseas, some from those who simply wanted to let me know how my music had affected them.

CMW – What is your definition of calming music, relaxing music, meditation music, and/or your style of music ?

JB – That which was gifted me by a higher authority, for my own good and others. The only other composer I listen to is Bernward Koch. I had never heard of him until recently. His style, remarkably, is almost identical to mine! His equipment however is far superior.

CMW – Can you please describe your creative, composing, writing and recording process ?

JB – There was no process. I possessed an upmarket leisure machine (Roland E70), a reel to reel tape recorder and a cassette recorder. I worked in total solitude for 5 years, except for trips to the studio for mastering. Everything was recorded live to tape. I had no computer and the sounds I generated were as a result of reading the keyboard manual! My chords and melody line were written down like hieroglyphics, which only I could understand.

Everything you hear today on my website are the original recordings, post mastering.

CMW – Where do you get your inspiration from ? Who inspires or inspired you ?

JB – No one inspired me. I have no idea where the music came from. I can only presume that because of my inability to express myself verbally, I was expressing my ‘felt emotions’ in the form of compositions. I was aware however of a spiritual presence around me during the entire process of composing my music. And this has been retold to me by those who have listened to my music.

CMW – In your opinion, what is so good about calming and relaxing music ? What are the benefits to the listener ?

JB – It has been written that there are many benefits of listening to ‘Calming Music, including healing, insomnia, reduce stress, enhance studying, relaxation and generally chilling out. Airlines used my music to reduce the fear of flying.

CMW – What are the top 3 things someone should know (or be good at, or learn or understand) in order to become a successful musician in your genre ?

JB – Faith, determination & having the will to never quit.

CMW – What other styles of music do you enjoy ?

JB – Apart from my own music, I have always loved classical music.

CMW – It is well known that calming music such as yours relaxes the mind and the body. How do you stay balanced, or relax and unwind ?

JB – I now have a heart condition. Listening to music helps deal with my anxiety.John_Barnard_Araluen

CMW – What other “strings to your bow” do you have ?

JB – I am a stay at home Dad. I now offer my music ‘Listen Free’ and make no income out of it, except if anyone wants download the entire collection of mp3s on an ISO file and burn a CD for the car or computer for $15.  The link is on my website –

I have built two 5 metre timber boats, a granny flat, drove from England to Pakistan in a 1948 Morris 8 in 1968 before continuing onward to Australia!

CMW – How do you market your creative endeavours ?

JB – Twitter, mostly for fun. @calmingmusic

CMW – What is the one item that you could not live without ?

JB – My keyboard.

CMW –  What is your proudest moment ? Musical or otherwise or both, when have you stood back and said to yourself, “you know what, that’s really good” ?

JB – My Award Night.  I had been nominated, with 2 others, to receive an award for the most successful venture as a recipient of Arts Venture Capital in 1997 and would I kindly attend a Business & Arts dinner at the Entertainment Centre.  I proceeded to extract my one and only suit from a long forgotten wardrobe, actually washed a suitable shirt and pressed one of my two ties. The first one shrivelled up, so my options ran out….

Altogether it was very swish !  The linen serviette was so stiff that I couldn’t even unfold it. Meanwhile I had sat on my reading glasses.

“And the winner is…” my heart rate shot up dramatically… “John Barnard”.

I had a piece of lamb stuck in my front teeth and I was more worried about that, than accepting an award and delivering a speech, but it became dislodged whilst climbing the stairs to the stage, so I broadly smiled to all and sundry, quietly wishing I hadn’t had that glass of something.  After a few lines of my speech I heard a sprinkling of laughter. I remember subconsciously checking my zip, but it must have been something I said, so I became a little more adventurous, trying hard not to slur my words, concluding with a “thank you very much”.

Desert was on the table when I got back to my seat and I had no hesitation in demolishing a double portion of black forest cake, totally without inhibition this time around. Everyone was smiling politely and insisting on engaging me in conversation whilst I had a mouth full of cherries.

I felt quite chuffed about the entire experience, I had appeared on a current affairs national TV program and needless to say, the album went off like a rocket but I also carefully reflected on where I had come from in the last five years.

CMW – Do you have any words of wisdom or quotes that you live your life by or that inspire you ?

JB – Never quit.

CMW – Where can people find out more about you ?

JB –   My website at and people can follow me on Twitter – @calmingmusic .

CMW – Thank you John for taking the time to answer these questions and thank you once again for allowing us to listen to some of your beautiful music !!!

To listen to “Beyond The Clouds” by John Barnard, click the play button:



Calming Music Weekly


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