Why do we play music "nobody" likes?
Many styles of music are of a minority interest. Especially if your musical interest originates from a country, era, or culture different than your own.
Hanging out and posting online only goes so far.
So why do we persist swinging, shuffling, rocking and improvising decades after demise of these once popular forms in tiny rooms to tiny audiences? We are hardly making art with a capital A. We are essentially paying homage to something that already exists. Yet we continue.
I think there is a bit of all the above in myself.
"To everything there is a season". Sage words. But perhaps a bit self limiting if taken too literally.
Here are some seniors, of my acquaintance, who inspire me.
1. Heather, now preparing for her Grade 2 violin exam. Yesterday she shopped for a violin upgrade.
2. Gary, now running his own weekly jazz jam session with his new found pals.
3. Glen, recently performing online with musicians and dancers from 2 European Countries. Today I found him practicing the piccolo.
4. Eleanor, writing music for her website for her fans around the world.
I say, don't sell yourself short.
It won't be easy. Going stale, losing interest in things, aging out, and other maladies are well known and well documented in aging adults. What can one do to stay in the game?
1. Stay fit or get fit. Creativity takes energy. Fight like hell to stay upright. But work with what you've got. Your high school track days are over. Accept this gracefully and with your doctor's advice, get to the gym.
2. Stay connected. Friends matter. Who you hang with matters even more. Are the folks in your orbit "in the game" or are they lazy, burned out, narrow minded, and in denial of reality? If they are, I'd make a move.
3. Take on new challenges. Start with your tech. Learn to use your phone, tablet, and laptop like a pro. It's not hard, start on YouTube and get busy. Working with senior adults who can't do even simple tasks is heartbreaking to see as a teacher. Tech literacy is a real thing. Incompetency with your gadgets is an impediment to being creative, connecting with other creatives, and just participating in modern life.
4. Learn something new. Take some lessons on your instrument, go all in. Learn a new instrument even. I'm working with a bass teacher this summer learning the basics of Country music bass lines in the music of the 1950s and 60s. My appreciation of that period of American music has grown. I hear it with fresh ears.
5. Do something new. I'm deep in the breakfast piano minute series. I've been creating 1 minute daily postings. It's been fun. It is leading to lots of new connections, and it encourages some daily creative effort. I've learned about camera lighting, video editing, and much more. And folks like them. I've a new and growing audience on social media.
If I can help you find some new creative activities, call me.
I’ve an aging body. Accommodations will have to be made. If you are reading this, you are likely in the same boat. Here is what was recommended by the physiotherapist recently.
I'm 62 years old. How do I stay in the game?
I found a mentor half my age. He keeps me humble, focused, and challenged. I figure he'll help stave off old fartum by at least a decade. He points out my blind spots and introduces me to new areas to explore, new points of view, and new ways to execute my musical ideas. It is all very exciting.
What about you?
Who can you reach out to?
One way to stay engaged is just to do it. Quick and short. Put it up there, see what sticks.
"Everyone used to learn by trial and error, we all had our own slightly wrong ways of doing things"
This may have cut it in the past. But not today. Engage a teacher, take a course, find some humility. The competition is fiercer that ever. Nothing is worse as an aging musician that not to know you don't know.
Ari Hoenig, jazz drummer
We live large in the catastrophic click bait age. It's only going to get worse. Count on it. Louder and shriller.
So, how do we turn off without turning inward?
I haven't the friggin' foggiest idea.
An ever-present danger. Giving up, settling early. This past year has been unprecedented. Most people have been inconvenienced. Some though have been deeply affected by job loss, illness, or death.
Assuming you are in the first group and not the second how do we proceed and stay engaged in a world of imagination and action?
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.