Irrationality
April 12, 2018
Book Blog Tour Update
April 26, 2018

Notes on an Address by Joe Satriani

[My photo of my JS Series Ibanez guitar.]

Some years ago, I went to a commencement at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles. By some miracle, the speaker was none other than Joe Satriani, perhaps my favorite electric guitarist. I took notes.

[Photo by Larry Dimarzio, borrowed from Joe’s official website About page.]

He spoke about his big break when he was invited to substitute for a musician who couldn’t make it to a performance by a named band. He wasn’t sure at the time whether he had the chops to perform at the level required, but rather than turning the opportunity down he simply said yes. The rest is history, so to speak. Here are my notes from his address.

  1. Practice every day.
  2. Always feed the artist in your head, your heart and your hands. Nurture that, and seek to foster the artist that you are.
  3. Play what is yours. Play what you want to play. Only create the art you want to create. Do not seek to imitate, or meet someone else’s expectations, because your art is part of who you are, so you can’t be like anyone else and still be true to what is you. (This does not mean to be a prima donna and refuse to participate in the creation of group art, or to insist on only playing your kind of music in a band, but that you create what is yours, whatever form you do it in.)
  4. Learn everything you can about your business. Seek the inspiration of those who inspire you, and learn from them.
  5. Prepare for success. Then you can seize the opportunities that present themselves. (His motto seemed to be “I’ve been preparing my whole life for this” when faced with opportunities.)
  6. Be unafraid to fail. Sometimes you can learn more from a spectacular failure than you would have from a string of minor successes.
  7. Learn to say “Yes” when you ask yourself, “Can I do this?” Even if you don’t think that you can, say, “Yes” anyway. You’ll find it within you to make it happen.
  8. Becoming successful takes a lot of hard work, but it’s good work, because it’s work that you do to create the art that you want to create.

Yes is probably the most powerful and empowering word in any language.

 

3 Comments

  1. Silvia says:

    Wow, incredible.

    These are words of wisdom and I’ll somehow copy/save them and look at them often.

    Not to imitate this artist, simply to receive something that makes sense to me too.

    Thank you for this one, Ivan.

    SILVIA

  2. Cristi says:

    Vision and determination, every day, keep trying…a lesson to print on my wall – keep walking, always. Thanks for the reminder Iván.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to see this post since Joe Satriani is, hands-down, my favorite guitarist! I love point #6, be unafraid to fail. Each day, I’m getting better at embracing failure and I’m learning to accept it as a part of life. I actually look forward to failing sometimes knowing that I’ll always learn something valuable in the end. So thank you Ivan for sharing these thoughtful notes!

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