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Perspective from Chile: Talent is Not Enough

Meet Igor Saavedra –

How many requirements have to be met for a bass player to become “Acknowledged” in the bass community? The truth is that they are numerous, and it’s worth it to analyze at least the most important ones. We do this in order to put into perspective the degree of real implication that talent has on this crowded and miscellaneous potion that is success.

A good way to look at these ingredients is to go in a vertical order, that is, perhaps by listing these ingredients according to their potential ideal order of appearance, or participation.

In my opinion the first ingredient has to be “The desire!” This desire is capable of overcoming any weakness or limitation. This represents that furious desire that is dependent upon that dream that has been built and forged. That same desire which must remain intact once it has reached the objective, so that one is able to accept all the imperfections and all the things that didn’t turn out as they would have imagined. An excellent analogy would be moving from “Being in love” to the state of “True love.”

It’s not enough to have just desire, because this desire takes its shape based on hard work, dedication, and perseverance, essential characteristics to channel that energy in a proper manner. Once you proceed, you begin to realize whether you have that talent or not, and if you have it, what level is it on. This is extremely significant because it creates many potential courses to consider. These will be managed either by rational intelligence, and/or emotional intelligence.

With these capabilities, you will be able to evaluate, make decisions, analyze, troubleshoot and manage the courses of action in the best possible way. So, if you note that you don’t have enough skills to throw around, you will need to go out there and “get them”. All of us know the phrase……”10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration”. It is not about proceeding to work with no purpose at all, because the results from that perspective will be obviously lacking….hence the importance of having a sufficient dose of intelligence to address problems properly to come out flying the flag of victory.

Coupled with intelligence, we must note that a Top musician must be a Top “artist” as well, and even more importantly, “A PERSON in accordance with that level”….an educated, informed and socially contributing person who does not believe for example that the Tower of Pizza is an edible thing, or that Malcolm X was one of the “X Men”. One must strive to be more credible as a person, as an artist, and therefore, without doubt, “As a musician.” There are always exceptions, but this article is not about those exceptions, it is about the average musician.

The next ingredient of this potion is one that has to do with human interrelations, meaning personal relationships and the ability to use those relationships well (in the best sense of the word). A pleasant and friendly person is more likely to succeed than an unfriendly or egotistic person, which in some cases may be due to shyness, low self-esteem and insufficient self-assessment. This is very sensitive point, because it has to do with a person who acts in accordance with their values and principles. What I mean by this is that it wouldn’t be correct to fall into cynicism and permissiveness under the guise of a nice person, as to manipulate everybody around you.

It’s good to assume the fact that you are not going to be accepted and loved by everybody in this world, but it’s important to make an effort to try to get along with everyone.

It’s more than clear that if a player has problems with a lot of the musicians around him, he should take that into consideration and act upon it in some fashion, so one doesn’t jeopardize any musical or life project.

Also, keep and eye on that person who seems to have no problems with anyone. This could be problematic as well. It could imply that he’s a victim of inconsistency, and a lack of commitment towards his principles and values, which sooner or later will make him collapse endogenously or exogenously.

Unfortunately, this world is moved by money! You had better take into account that you can’t escape that reality in order to function effectively in this society. A poor but talented musician will be in serious trouble if he doesn’t have an awareness of professional/survival tactics. Show some ingenuity. You don’t want to be confined to playing in the subway, or in a corner bar for the rest of your days. You need a stable home, a vehicle that will not leave you stranded on the road, a healthy diet, etc. This will help any musician to reach his goals and achieve his accomplishments in a better fashion. It’s very important not to lose perspective on what I’ve just mentioned. All of these thoughts are a “means to obtain your goals, not ends in themselves.”

Speaking about professionalism, there are countless stories of enormous musical talents that have been dropped to the bottom of the call list. So it’s important to exhibit punctuality, sobriety, a good appearance, and have the ability to transmit calmly and confidently to those who have hired you. These are inescapable requirements for a musician who aspires to be a serious professional.

Also important…..take care of yourself. If you are living on junk food, sleeping badly, doing drugs, drinking alcohol in excess, etc, this will become your weak link in the chain of success, and your projects may fail if this is not taken into account.
If you are physically impeccable, and I’m not referring to the aesthetic connotation (also important), this implies one is able to think and make correct and accurate decisions. Also, your hands and fingers will be ductile and will always have good circulation and good muscle tone with good joint elasticity. Needless to say, this is critical for any musician. All these factors depend on good nutrition and good physical condition…. vital elements for good technique. These are all considerations to be aware of at an early age. I have seen 75 year old musicians in a better shape than some 40 year old musicians that have not taken their health seriously.

Talent sometimes works as kind of a drug, which can paralyze coherent rationality for some people, in the sense that musicians often come to believe that the path to success is completely paved and secured by their talent. Nothing could be further from the truth, since achieving success requires a vast array of conditions and skills to be considered, and talent is just one of them. What really counts here is an examination and pursuit of all the positive elements that will inherently reflect who we are in our profession, and much more importantly, in our life.

That’s all for now my friends. In my next article, I will explain to you the criteria needed to acquire and make effective use of an Extended Range Bass.

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