I home from New Orleans and the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Camp, I was drumming. What a great experience. I return with new insights on teaching jazz and maintaining a happy heart.
The bad: New Orleans is a study in contrast, wealth/poverty, happiness/despair and the smell of stale beer, urine and vomit.
The ugly: too much eating, drinking, and other nasty habits that lower life satisfaction and joy at every turn. I asked an instructor how he stays healthy to keep playing. He laughed bitterly, "don't do what I've done". A large percentage of my fellow campers are overweight, some morbidly so. Too many have an unfortunate relationship with alcohol and food, and an aversion to the gym. I mean they really drink a lot. Bloody Mary's for breakfast! Six beers before the jam! And, most of them are seniors.
What do I take away from this? A renewed determination to stay healthy through conscious living. And recount my blessings: my loving wife, sober friends, good health, stable self-employment, food on the table.
I'm back from the physiotherapist. I'll live, I've enflamed my rotary cuff. Duh, there is no fool like an old fool. Doubly embarrassing. Thank goodness I stopped before any permanent damage. What did it? Conditioning workouts at the boxing gym. What was I thinking. Apparently I wasn't thinking.
So, to quote the Bible, "to everything there is a season". That season has passed.
Update: July 4 I've recovered. A week of playing in New Orleans didn't do me in. Stretching works.
Many of this blog's readers have been playing more than 50 years. I'm in 48 years since I first learned the riff on "Smoke on the water" on an open E string.
Why do we still keep at it? What do we still love about the "game"?
1. The endorphin rush of creating something of beauty alone or with others has been well documented.
Music 'releases mood-enhancing chemical in the brain'By Sonya McGilchrist Health reporter, BBC News
2. Community. At this age jamming with my contemporaries is a warm friendly event of music, story telling, and camaraderie.
3. Identity: we are musicians, we've the scars and stories to prove it. We had careers, we made it, we celebrate it. In the modern world it is a small club.
4. Money: Music still feeds me. So off to work I go. Today I start with a drum coaching session with Terry Clarke, then teaching in the afternoon.
Full time teaching is over in 10 days. As the song says, "See you in September". Priority one this summer is getting ready for the big band workshop as a drummer. Priority two classical piano practice, time to re-engage the keyboard. I miss it dearly.
Musical goals for the fall?
Sometime what you are looking for is right under your nose. Since moving to Toronto a few years ago I've been building bridges and rebuilding my musical/social circles. I'm trying to balance the urge to revisit past glories with the adventures of new vistas. Going back at this age in search our glorious youth will quickly put us in the old fart club. I truly believe this from experience doing just such activities. Fun but socially isolating.
On the other hand new adventures are called adventures for a reason. They are the key to happiness and give the us the endorphins blast and adrenalin surges we still crave. A great thing at this age I say.
Let's get out there.
Never ignore aches and pains. I've got a sore shoulder area on the right side from presumably drumming. I will rest it this week before it gets serious. No drum kit until Friday's lessons, just pads played lightly. Trust Facebook for good advice from fellow drummers.
David Story: Professional pianist, drummer, composer, and educator. Well into his 5th 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.