Cultivating Your Strengths With Steve Vai

Steve Vai is virtuoso guitar player who began his career as a music transcriptionist for Frank Zappa. He later joined Zappa's band for several years before stepping out on his own. After David Lee Roth left Van Halen in 1985, he picked Steve to be his guitarist. This meant that Steve essentially became Eddie Van Halen's replacement - a thought that was inconceivable to many until they heard the result. Several successful and acclaimed albums followed. Steve frequently lands near the top of "best of" lists among fans and critics when it comes to guitarists.  He's a virtuoso in every sense of the word. However, unlike many within pop/rock universe, he is also extremely thoughtful and clear-headed when it comes to speaking about his craft. I have found two clips on youtube that illustrate this.

In this first, short, seven+ minute clip, Steve talks about achieving success.  More specifically, he discusses setting goals, maintaining focus, cultivating your strengths, and working through periods of discouragement. 

This second video is a bit longer - a little over an hour. It's billed as "The World's Largest Online Guitar Lesson" and to that end it is aimed at beginning guitar players. If you are looking to pick up the instrument, this isn't a bad place to start. From simple things like tuning the guitar ("Go out and buy a tuner.  That's what I do!") to more advanced topics like improvisational soloing, Steve touches on and demystifies art of playing the guitar.

Interspersed throughout the lesson, he expands on the more inspirational topics he covered in the shorter video above. Following your interest(s), dealing with criticism, breaking things down, learning the art of relaxation, and embracing your imagination are just a few of the things he is able to cover.

At this point, some of you might be wondering what playing the guitar has to do with architecture. It's not necessarily a direct correlation.  Clearly changing a broken string or tuning the guitar doesn't have much to do with architecture. At least on the surface. I suppose if you really wanted to, you could make a comparison to setting up and optimizing your design software of choice. That's kind of the same principal as tuning a guitar. But I'm not going to go there.

The real point I want to make with this post is that there are larger characteristics that are shared across creative/artistic endeavors. In the case of playing the guitar and practicing architecture, both involve study/practice. Both involve a degree of relaxation, confidence, and the ability to listen. Both involve setting goals, maintaining focus, cultivating your strengths, and working through periods of discouragement. And certainly, both involve finding inspiration.

I find my inspiration through a wide variety of interests.  At first glance, many of them appear to have nothing to do with architecture. However, if you really look at them, they are more closely aligned than you might first think.