Itzhak Perlman at the White House in 2007. (Shealah Craighead via Wikipedia)

Violinist Itzhak Perlman and his wife Toby had a simple message for the Class of 2016 in a Last Lecture event on Feb. 9: Do what you love.

“Part of the secret of life is loving your work and positioning yourself so that your work nourishes you,” said Toby Perlman, who also pursues a musical career as founder of the Perlman Music Program for gifted young string players.

Creative nourishment comes from continually seeking out challenges in one’s work, the Perlmans said. School provides a natural environment for growth, but it’s harder to find opportunities for inspiration after graduation.

“Never miss an opportunity to teach,” Itzhak Perlman said, explaining that teaching has challenged his own playing to take on new levels of meaning. “When you teach others, you teach yourself.”

And his thoughts on the Perlmans’ own futures? “I don’t like to plan stuff. It’s nice to be surprised,” Itzhak Perlman said. “A lot of the great things that happen to us in our lives just come without a plan.”