Tonight I had the chance to watch Yanni: A Living Legacy on KSPS (public broadcast, for those who don’t know). As a musician I am often taking notes on other musicians and concerts that I go to. I thought I would share with you some of the things I picked up while watching Yanni.
Now I should point out that I don’t usually watch TV. All of that kind of changed when I was offered a free DVR. The ability to skip through commercials is rather essential in my opinion, and the ability to record what I want to watch and watch it when I want to is also a nice feature. But I digress, let’s move on.
Whether or not you’re a Yanni fan (I’ve never identified myself as such), there are some important lessons that could be learned from his music.
Yanni is Always Engaged in the Music
You can see that it makes him come alive. He feels every note and every beat that’s played. He’s always involved in the music, whether he’s actually playing or not. That in itself could be a big lesson. Sure, he has an entire orchestra backing him up, but knowing when NOT to play is just as important as knowing WHEN to play.
Yanni isn’t Afraid of giving up the Spotlight
Yanni is indeed a great musician himself, but the musicians backing him up are equally so. Yanni isn’t the only one that gets a solo; many of the musicians and singers playing with him have the opportunity to be in the spotlight as well. You can see that he gets great joy out of letting others shine.
Yanni Performs in Exotic, Unusual, and Beautiful Locations
Now this might be a little harder to duplicate for us independent musicians. However, there is something to be said about the venue you play in. Is the venue interesting? Does it engage your audience? Is it easily accessible? Does it have plenty of parking? There’s a lot more to picking a venue than we usually tend to think about.
Yanni’s Music has a Particular Esthetic
Orchestral, New Age, Middle Eastern, Instrumental, whatever you want to call it, his music has a particular quality to it. He doesn’t pretend to be anything he’s not. He’s not a Punk Rocker. He’s not a Blues Crooner. He does what he does.
I think this is often overlooked in music. All too often we’re caught up in trying to engage everybody, when we should be focused on who we are and the people that are attracted to our music. Everything from your hairstyle to the way you play your instrument plays a part in who likes your music.
Yanni has Quality Musicians backing him up
I think I’ve already touched on this, but Yanni has some incredible musicians backing him up. Not that everyone and anyone should aspire for virtuosity, but rather we should aspire to be the best that we can be. We should get comfortable enough with our instrument and what we’re playing that we don’t stumble over ourselves in the process.
Author: David Andrew Wiebe
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.