“They all had this magic inside of them where they wanted to play music” Joe Satriani on mentoring players like Steve Vai
“They wanted to invent something musical and share it with people and that drove them to seek out a path that was their own.”
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Joe Satriani has opened up about mentoring some of guitar’s biggest names like Steve Vai and Kirk Hammett, and the qualities that these players often have in common.
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Speaking in a new interview with Ultimate Guitar, the virtuoso himself discusses some of his takeaways from his years of teaching guitar. Of his many star students, Satriani says that each one of them had impressed him in their own way.
“They were all really surprising. Every time you get a chance to just do a one-on-one lesson, you really learn a lot about that student, and their personality,” the guitarist explains. “What I learned over and over again, was that talent shows itself in so many different ways. You can’t look at a student and think, ‘Well, if they don’t have this particular asset, then they’re not worth my time or they won’t move forward.’”
“What I learned is that when you have a young Charlie Hunter, following a young Kirk Hammett, following Alex Skolnick and Kevin Cadogan, and you have all these different personalities, and they all had something very unique. They didn’t necessarily share the same physical talents, but they definitely were different personalities, they definitely liked different kinds of music and different players.”
But most importantly, “they all had this magic inside of them where they wanted to play music,” says Satriani, adding: “They wanted to invent something musical and share it with people and that drove them to seek out a path that was their own. So not only did I love recognising it, but I knew that I had to do that as a teacher, so that I wouldn’t waste their time.”
As Satch explains, his job as a teacher was to “figure out what is the information that’s going to make them smile, what is gonna make them feel like they found something they can work with, and give it to them and say, ‘You do what you want with it. Don’t copy me.’”
“I wouldn’t try to change them or bend them in my direction.”
He continues: “They were so young. I was in my early 20s, but the difference between teenagers and kids in their 20s, I mean, it’s huge, really. It’s just another generation and they turned out to be monster musicians and they contributed to the way music sounds, they had a fantastic effect on it, which is amazing.”