LIVE in THE SPOTLIGHT
- How to practice: exploring strategies and tactics in an aging body through book reviews, interviews, personal anecdotes, with the goal of staying happy, healthy and focused.
- Attitude: what it is a good attitude, how does helps us to learn and persevere, which daily tactics help us to acquire or keep a good one, what to do if yours needs a tune up?
- Metacognition: what it is, what it can teach us about learning, resources for study, conferences, and in practice.
- Intrinsic motivation: what it is, how it helps us to learn and persevere as we age, how to help those we mentor with theirs.
To be grateful for a career well played is one of the consolations of aging. A good project for a rainy day is to list all the memorable moments of your playing career. The good, bad, and ugly. Follow up by searching and contacting some of the survivors.
Possibilities include former musicians, band leaders, agents, club owners, and fans. Tell them you were thinking of them. Retell the stories together. If they live close share coffee and swap impressions. It's worth it. They'll love it, You'll love it too, I promise. Everyone loves to be remembered.
Your career may not have soared to the level of the Funk Brothers, but I bet they are just as colourful.
Gary Burton Calls It a Career
“It increasingly makes me uncomfortable when I go out on stage and I don’t feel as confident that I’m going to have a great night,” Burton says. “I’m starting to have moments — what we call senior moments. I have them sometimes when I’m playing. I suddenly forget where I am in the song. So, for a few seconds I’m fumbling and having to guess where the heck am I, how do I get back into it, and so on.”
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/gay-south-florida/article135228289.html#storylink=cpy
And he has heart problems too.
So, he decided to call it a career before he either drops dead on stage or makes an ass of himself. In other interviews, he mentions other Jazz Legends who overstayed their welcome and played way past their ability to maintain their dignity: Oscar Peterson, Dizzy, and others.
I too have witnessed first hand some indignities. A senior band director going headfirst into his music stand. Another, so blind he couldn’t follow the score. Poor man proud to the end, fumbling with the score in front of 60 embarrassed friends and colleagues.
We owe it to our fellow musicians to stand aside, both for our own dignity and the integrity of the music and our legacy, big or small. We don’t want people to say of us, “they used to be great”.
Until then folks, get some sleep, curb the booze, take a walk, practice, hang with friends, write some music, play some gigs and have some fun.
Why are musicians luckier than most people?
...most people get to die only once.
Music gives us a chance to test our reliance in the face of disasters, big and small. Here is the story of a small one.
Last weekend I performed in a street festival here in Toronto, playing drums in a classic rock band. Let us count the challenges.
Forty five minutes later it is mercifully over. The bass player remarks, "you didn't sound like yourself today?"
Gary Marcus' short video introduction to learning something new. He explodes the idea of 10,000 hours. But, he reiterates the importance of correct practice habits, commitment, and bias for action.
Another good example, that you can participate in, is the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Workshop in Louisville Kentucky this summer. Each year hundreds of adults from around the world gather to play jazz together. Some are beginners, some are pros. They are all obsessed with learning to play jazz. Starting at 8 AM and going to 11 PM, they chase the jazz rabbit. A truly thrilling and inspiring bunch.
Deliberate Practice focused attention on the right things for a long time. A good working definition. As aging musicians, we might consider the following areas for focus:
"In one way, I think of myself as a tenacious loser. I mean, the Met was my 28th audition." Jason Haaheim, Principle timpanist of the Met Orchestra NYC. An inspirational story of commitment, dedication, and focus. A great read to start the day. http://jasonhaaheim.com/how-did-scientist-become-timpanist-met-orchestra/ He makes the important point to focus on the process not the outcome. Outcomes are the result of successfully working through the process.
Musicians and booze. Old school thinking that persists. Me, I never drink on the job. Ever. I won't hire folks who do either.
Back in the day, drinking was very common in the music business. Those who persisted are now unhealthy, incapacitated to varying degrees, or more likely just plain dead. Don, Bill, Kurt, Steve, my personal list goes on and on.
Imagine your child's grade school teacher proudly declaring that it helps them relax and get in the zone before class. Or lawyer, doctor, bus driver, etc. Unthinkable, dangerous, and the quick cause of sanctions.
I'm not impressed. If you are an alcoholic, you know it. Slay the dragon before it kills you, what's left of your career and/or family and "stay in the game".
"No fool like an old fool"
We could go on.
I think it is really important to compartmentalize our musical lives with the rests of our lives. Planning regular practice times and sticking to them helps. Learning how to practice effectively and healthily is imperative. Being easy on ourselves while effectively dealing with our goals is important or unpleasant consequences are sure to follow.
Ask yourself the following
Stretching has become one of my tactics to stay in the game. I play drums and piano. I practice daily, I play and jam regularly. I'm going to 58 years old this week. I'm still in the game.
For the past number of years I've attended the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Workshop in Kentucky. Full of weekend warriors who 3 days in, sometimes after just 2 days were already suffering. Stretching and proper warmups may have helped some, but not all the discomfort they experienced.
A word to the wise: Don't wait until you have inflammation and tingling fingers. Carpal tunnel, repetitive strain injuries and worse are no joke. You don't have to be a mature musician to suffer from these problems.
Social isolation as a musician is musical death, or at least a lonely purgatory. As we age the musical colleagues and scenes we were part change, die, or mostly likely, just fizzle out. Not a good situation. If you are a jazz or rock musicians who remembers the glory days of gigs, gigs, gigs, fun, fun, fun, $, $, $, you know what I mean. Most jazz fans are either dead, in the home, or too old too tired to go out.
Here are some thoughts.
Musician Hand Stretches and Warm Up
David Story: Professional pianist, drummer, composer, and educator. Well into his 4th enthusiastic musical decade, David works with adults pursuing musical dreams in the autumn of life, while he maintains an active presence in the Toronto arts scene.