Tag Archives: practice

What does writing have to do with Steve Vai?

Guitarist Extraordinaire

If you haven’t been living under a rock, and have even a passing interest in guitar, you know who Steve Vai is – arguably one of the best rock guitarists ever. Even if you don’t like his style, you probably know who he is.

Okay, so why should you, aspiring writer, give 2 shits about Steve Vai?

I’ll tell ya.

Showing Up

Because the dude wrote a fully orchestrated song EVERY DAY in high school.

Ever since I was a young boy I wanted to be a composer more than anything. The guitar fell into my lap along with the progressive rock music of the 70’s and even though my fingers were glued to the instrument, I started studying composition and musical notation long before I even started playing the guitar. I had a wonderful music theory teacher in high school, Bill Westcot, who gave me an assignment to write a song in manuscript form every day, then turn it into him to play on the piano. This was the only homework I ever did in high school and it made every day exciting. To be able to hear your music performed is the greatest gift a composer could hope for. I wrote my first orchestra piece in 9th grade for the Carle Place High School Orchestra. It was called “Sweet Wind From Orange County” and I actually still have a scar on my finger from the pencil I used while feverishly writing it.

I don’t know about you, but I try to write every day. Sometimes holidays and birthdays and stuff get in the way.

Focused Practice

But let’s take something out of Mr. Vai’s blurb – he didn’t just jot down rambling things every day. No, these weren’t just melodies on the guitar, or riffs, or snippets, or just a few lyrics. These were full songs, written out on manuscript paper, that someone was going to play. EVERY DAMNED DAY.

When was the last time you pumped out a full story every day that was suitable to be read by someone else?

It’s a tall order, and I’m sure some of those songs were terrible. But Steve Vai showed up. And I am, too. Are you?