Want to Become a True Musician? Avoid Behaving Like a Dilettante!

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If the word Dilettante sounds strange to some of you, here is a classical dictionary definition:

“Dilettante comes from the Italian word Dilettare, “to delight.” Its connotation is that someone enjoys doing something, but does not take it seriously enough to become a professional at it. Most often used in relation to the arts and often is used as a critical way of describing someone who simply dabbles in the arts and lacks the discipline to perfect their skill.”

In fact I will extend that definition a little bit and bring it more to reality in my own words.

A Dilettante is somebody you don’t have to confuse with the general public or the general audience that have the right to express their opinion whenever they want and how they want. The Dilettante is a person who usually, but not always, keeps a sense of frustration inside him. This sense of frustration makes him feel always insecure, and this insecurity usually comes from his lack of skills, opportunities or discipline…. and mostly from his enormous desire to have become a True Musician and never being able to achieve that.

It’s not a coincidence that those guys usually know much more about music trivia than most of the musicians. When they are “Wealthy Dilettantes”, they usually have the best music collections around, the best amps, and the best instruments. Many times they are the ones who own the best instrument collections including rare editions, etc. Even though they dedicated their life to another profession (usually not by choice), you can find in their houses amazing studios with the cutting edge technology in them. They are experts in knowing names, dates, brands, models, etc. way better than any musician.

What’s the reason for that? Well, for me it seems really obvious… the reason is a matter of “Compensating”…. it’s like the short guy with the huge car… if you know what I mean. For me, the best example of a redeemed “Wealthy Dilettante” is the “Maecenas”.

When the Dilettante is not a wealthy one, he usually manages his ways for “Compensating”, like for example trying at any time (consciously or unconsciously) to find all the failures, mistakes and inabilities as possible on True Musician’s performances, even though they will never be able to play more than 10% than the guy they are talking about. It really doesn’t matter; this urge they have is stronger than their will. It’s fair to add that the “Wealthy Dilettante” is also a candidate to fall into the same sick pattern.

The Dilettante (wealthy or not) needs to destroy… whenever you read any destructive comment in any media (Youtube, forums, etc.), those opinions will always be coming from a Dilettante, and will never come from a True Musician. And of course 99% of the time those destructive comments will be anonymous…. does this sounds familiar to you?

Would you imagine for example Pat Metheny saying that a Patitucci solo is a piece of crap? Of course not, as a musician like Pat doesn’t have the time and the dark energy for something like that, and of course he won’t even think something like that about such a great musician.

But let’s suppose he would think that, he still wouldn’t write such negative things as he knows by his own experience how hard is to make and to play music, and how hard is to dedicate a life to music, so he will respect the artist and won’t say anything that could be destructive or at least non-constructive.

In fact what a True Musician like him or any other musician at this level would say if they found any “not very good performance” in any media, would always be constructive because of the reasons I mentioned before. They will try to find all the positive aspects in there… where is the potential, and if they find something they don’t like, they will always express that idea in a constructive way saying that this can be improved by doing this or that, never destructing anybody as I said before… that’s Dilettante’s Business.

It’s amazing how NOBODY escapes from the Dilettante’s reach. Take a tour on Youtube for example and you will see how amazing musicians like Dave Weckl, Chick Corea, Stevie Wonder, Maxim Vengerov, Claudio Arrau, Daniel Barenboim, Jean Luc Ponty, etc., and eventually all the great musicians you can think about, are always being battered, many times in extremely disrespectful ways by the Dilettantes.

The other thing that the Dilettante loves to do is to COMPARE musician “A” with musician “B”, transforming himself into a sort of gambler finding who’s better so to be able to bid on the fastest horse. True Musicians are not horses that are competing against the other one so to entertain the Dilettantes… True Musicians are human beings trying hard to make ART, True Musicians are not comparing themselves with the musician next door in any form… and this is again Dilettante’s business.

So this article is just some humble advice to help you construct a solid identity as a musician. If you want to achieve the goal of becoming a True Musician, start right now by avoiding falling into this destructive behavior, and it’ll be way better if you do so at a young age. If after reading this article you come to the conclusion that you have already fallen into this toxic pattern on some occasions, try to correct that ASAP… it’s never too late. As I said on this article’s title…

Want to Become a True Musician? Avoid Behaving Like a Dilettante!

See you guys on my next article!

Igor Saavedra

About Igor Saavedra

It's amazing that Igor was not into music till he picked up a bass for the first time at the age of 22 in 1988.

Comments

  1. Daniel Rebolledo Cormack says

    Very interesting article.

    I think we all are a bit Dilettante at the bottom, for example I can say “Hey!, it’s BareNboim instead of BareMboim”

    *wink

    Cheers!

  2. Igor Saavedraigor saavedra says

    Thanks a lot for the Fb likes…, it’s a lot for just one day..!!.., I really appreciate that you are enjoying the article…

  3. Christian Creixell says

    Thanks Igor for your valuable words, sure are very inspiring for me and others that are in this hard way to become musicians.

  4. Andreas FarmakalidisAndreas Farmakalidis says

    Hi Igor,
    Another great article!

    Funny thing –i had a discussion related to this article with a friend of mine –who is an amateur bass player–or in this case dilettante :). Very great guy, great person, but always has this sense of frustration inside him and ofcourse nothing in relation to music, especially bass playing, is good enough.

    His argument was that bass player A is “better” than bass player B, for the reason that his soloing was better ,his sound was better and his gear was better. :) Bass player B should have used that pre amp instead of that etc etc etc and he should have done this etc etc etc. You know the vibe :)

    My point was that both are great –but they are different. It would be good if we just isolate all the good stuff from both of them and just get those. does not matter what style of music it is.

    Both (A&B) are doing music for the right reasons and they are both very successful in their field.

    I guess i will send a link of this article to my friend. Hopefully , he will understand :)

    Again, great article my friend.

  5. Igor SaavedraIgor Saavedra says

    That’s right Daniel.., totally my fault.., in fact I know perfectly it’s “BareNboim”, but I pressed the M on the side instead…., I’ll fix it ASAP.

    Cheers,

    Igor.

  6. Igor SaavedraIgor Saavedra says

    You know why you arrived to that Conclusion about bassists A & B Andreas..??

    Because you are a “True Musician”……., that simple…!!

  7. Steve Seven says

    I think it is a pity you are continuing the too long tradition of misusing the word dilettante. Once upon a time a dilettante was someone who took their hobby VERY seriously but did not consider making a career of it. It was actually quite a complimentary term. Now if you can please provide a better word for someone who takes their hobby very seriously but does not consider making a career out of it I would love to know it. Not every serious musician will be a professional.

  8. Igor SaavedraIgor Saavedra says

    Thanks Steve for your comment….

    I know what you mean, and I’m completely aware of the origins of the word…, I didn’t cover that aspect becasue my article was focused on a different thing.

    Once upon a time the word “Emperor” was considered a compliment for who was supposed to be the ultimate power of a person over the rest of the people on this planet…,
    Actually, within the context of the first world, this word would be considered completely anachronic, very politically incorrect., and even offensive. The same has happened with thousands of words like for example the word “Pizzicato”.

    In my opinion, language and words are living beings that are always changing and mutating, so they have to be considered based in what they “effectively mean within the social and historical context.”
    Since the 20th century, and way before really, the word Dilettante with no doubt has been used to mean what I expressed on my article, despite the fact of the original meaning.
    If the word Dilettante should or shouldn’t have mutated on its significance, that would be a matter for a different discussion.

    I think that your opinion is not “a pity”.., quite the contrary…, it’s a matter of joy and celebration…, so that means I celebrate your opinion because “is your opinion”, I respect it and any further opinion from you will be always very welcome.

    Cheers,

    Igor.

  9. Andreas FarmakalidisAndreas Farmakalidis says

    Thank you very much for your kind words igor. just a small parenthesis on language.

    In some ways, it is surprising that languages change.

    After all, language passed down through the generations reliably enough for parents and children to communicate with each other. Yet linguists find that all languages change over time. For example, while Japanese has changed relatively little over 1,000 years, English evolved rapidly in just a few centuries. Many present-day speakers find Shakespeare’s sixteenth century texts difficult and Chaucer’s fourteenth century Canterbury Tales nearly impossible to read. Dont even going to start talking about ancient greek. Some stuff are really impossible to read. Even the syntax of the whole text is totally different and the words have some times even different meaning , or connotation.

    Frequently, the needs of speakers drive language change. i believe that the fact that new technologies, industries, products and experiences simply require new words. Plastic, cell phones and the Internet didn’t exist in Shakespeare’s time, for example. By using new and emerging terms, we all drive language change. But the unique way that individuals speak also fuels language change. That’s because no two individuals use a language in exactly the same way. The vocabulary and phrases people use depend on where they live, their age, education level, social status and other factors. Through our interactions, we pick up new words and sayings and integrate them into our speech hence the word dilettante.

    Teens and young adults for example, often use different words and phrases from their parents. Some of them spread through the population and slowly change the language.

    Just my thoughts on language.

    Sorry for my rambling.

    It is just a subject that i like talking about.

    Anyways…again igor.. i believe that with this is a great article you and you talk about something very important.

  10. Igor SaavedraIgor Saavedra says

    What can I say…, what you say has a lot to do with what I think and with what I”ve learned trough my life…, and it has a lot to do with my actual point of view…, so I agree completely with you..

    But well…, the main thing is to discuss about the Dilettantes and their toxic approach…

    Thanks Andreas…!!

    Be well,

    Igor.

  11. Ron Vandelli says

    very very interesting article, i think we all are guilty of this, whether its sports, music,or whatever. But your the 1st person i ever heard break it down like that.

  12. Igor SaavedraIgor Saavedra says

    Thanks a lot Ron for taking the time to make that comment…!!

    It’s true we are all guilty…, but we came here to this planet to learn…, I’ve been trying hard through the years not to fall into this toxic behaviour and mostly to understand why it shouldn’t been done (which I think it’s the most important thing)…

    The more we are.., the better the vibe around any activity like the ones you mention.

    Cheers,

    Igor.

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