Janis Smilskalns acquired the basics of his musical education at High-School of Musical Education named after E. Darzins, where he took classes with the acknowledged teacher I. Abramiss, and later with Vadims Beskrovnijs, concert-master of the alto group for chamber-orchestra of State Philharmonic society. As a student, he played in the group of school violin-players. After graduating from the school, he continued his studies at the Latvian Academy of Musical Education (LMA) and, in 1983, graduated from it, finishing Prof. B. Tiltins’ class, giving the first performance of K. Porter’s concert.

While at the academy, from 1979 to 1981, he was playing in the Operetta’s orchestra, guest-performing in several cities of Russia, as well as he was playing in LMA’s chamber-orchestra, giving several open concerts.

In 1981, M. Smilskalns and he independently staged a solo-programme for performing on LMA’s concert hall.

As a member of LMA’s chamber-choir,  he has performed in Valmiera City and Vane Town’s concert halls, in Lvov, Drogobici and Truskovec, the Ukraine, as well as on the stage of State Philharmonic society as a soloist.

He has been working at LNO since 1981.

In spring of 1980, as a student and the winner of a local competition, he took part in the former USSR’s honourable competition of the young performers in Lvov, and in October of 1980, he was a successful participant in one of the musical competitions of Latvia.

Upon graduating from LMA, he had a recording made at the public radio station.

He set a concert hall in Vane Town, Tukums District, where he gave several solo performances.

Apart from playing in “Optimisti”, he is also performing the managerial and administrative functions in it.

Several times he gave the first-night performances of musical compositions by the young Latvian composers (A. Maskats, J. Lusens, D. Apsitis). Arturs Maskats has dedicated his composition “Music for the Violin, Alto and Chamber-Orchestra” to the brothers Smilskalns.