A musician's career goes through a number of periods
1. Student: learning the craft and skills needed to make your mark
2. Neophyte: finding a place to get started
3. Journeyman: paying the bills, dodging distraction
4. Leader: making our mark
5. Teacher: helping the next generation
Repertoire, repertoire, repertoire.
My question is this, “is this possible as an aging musician to reinvent one’s self and persevere long enough to succeed in a new direction, or are we forever stuck with the play lists of our youth?”
With the forced timeout from the pandemic, now maybe the best time to make a move.
Here is a short list of artists who have reinvented themselves at least once in maturity.
“Growth comes from stepping outside your comfort zone” Dawn Staley
Easy when you are young. Harder when you are old and comfortable.
Dream for a moment. Don’t worry if time is short, better to die in the saddle on the trail of a new adventure, than stuck in a chair staring at the wall.
Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.
Think for a moment of your musical heroes, mentors, and villains. Did they exhibit these qualities? Did they express and live these qualities prior to obtaining success?
They never chased a sound; they created a sound. As my mentor Bill King said in response to listening to one more mainstream jazz recording presented to him by eager hopeful shiny faces, “haven’t we made the record already?”
Have a great day.
Ten things you might consider:
“Flexibility, improvisation, practicality, and the ability to recognize and respond to changing environments”
This is a good time to revisit these thoughts from my old alma mater. We all understand the disruption of the pandemic. Now what lies ahead for musicians? Public performances are out until an effective vaccine appears. And, is widely adopted by the population. In this “age of the crazy” that may be wishful thinking.
For established performers it may be time to consider alternative career paths. This is the path I took 20 years ago in response to the SARS pandemic. As the songs says, “you gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them”.
For younger musicians though it is a whole new opportunity to reinvent the arts. The established crowd is hoping for a miracle, the younger crowd got one. The status quo is not likely to return. And, anyhow the young will not wait. They are filling the void with viable alternatives. The leviathan of public arts support will need to be reimagined and reallocated post Covid-19
I hope I live long enough to be a witness; it is going to be good.
Darn Tootin' it does. This won't last forever. Reach out everyway you can to stay in the loop. Project positivity, keep moving, keep practicing. Be ready.
I'm off tonight to introduce myself to a new bunch of musicians in the Loretta Hale Big Band. Damn they rehearse late: 930 PM to 1130 PM. I'm playing piano. It will be fun. It's been years since I've played big band on the piano. I'm happy to go. (I've brought my ear plugs for the sound levels I anticipate)
This opportunity is a great chance to revisit the basics of aging and staying in the game.
Loretta posted on Facebook, I was the first to respond I guess.
Wish me luck,
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.