My artistic voice was there all along. After recording dozens of short piano pieces over the summer and fall of 2021 and previously with the cinematic noise trio "Fade/Dissolve", I've discovered, of course, that my voice was there all along. Listening to the playlists/videos, one can hear the "voice" as clear as a bell. Our "artistic voice" is revealed in a body of work, created a long period of time.
The next question of course is do I like what I hear? Does anyone else?
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'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?
Every year I'm witness to the following scenario. Junior is in the last year of high school and the question comes up. "what do you want to do for the rest of your life?" or something similar.
Wow! Anxious parents and terrified teenagers seeking a path that will guide junior through life with the least resistance, pain, or notice. Grand plans are shelved and little plans are hatched.
Life is going to hurt. Tough decisions will have to be made, consequences will be severe. No one is spared. Cowering will not help. Wishful or magical thinking won't help.
My take: demonstrate courage, creativity, resilience, and grace to your children through your actions.
Maybe this is the antidote for aging musicians too.
1. Find new folks to play with. I did it a decade ago, it's taken me around the world. Got me out of more than one rut. The picture above is one example: Preservation Hall New Orleans, yep that happy guy is me.
2. Change instruments. I teach piano, I live for the drums. An instrument I took up over a decade ago. It changed everything. Made all the old jazz and rock repertoire I'd be playing for years new again.
3. Musicians don't retire, they just change bands. Good advice from a forgotten source. Just be gracious as you step aside into less demanding formats. The pressure is off, have fun.
4. Teach the younger generation. Be open to learn from them. Help them, but realize they are entering a different world than the one you are leaving.
5. During these times, the world's best are mostly sitting at home. Call them, book a class or two. They'll be happy to hear from you, you'll be happy to have met them.
6. Learn a new musical skill from a reputable source. Good deep. Check out Berklee online: Individual Courses | Berklee College of Music
7. Play music with your spouse. Suck it up, have fun. Especially if they are not professional. The feeling is great. I know firsthand.
Have a great year,
Let's play a game. Make a list of 10 musical adventures that would inspire you to get busy, get moving, and stay at it. Then pick one from the list and get going.
My 86 year old father just signed up for cello lessons, the first since high school. They are going well. He can barely speak of anything else. He called up the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and asked for a recommendation. He got one.
My wife, who will be retired when this is published, just completed her first violin exam at the Royal Conservatory of Music. It was a big success. She could barely wait to start the next level. See this link for a full description. My first violin exam - David Story Online Toronto Piano Teacher .
In the reality series "Travels With My Father, "daddy" is 80 and he's game.
So, if you are healthy enough to move, get moving I say.
I'm off to practice,
Meaning a Life. Shortly after the book appeared, the poet Michael Heller praised its sensibility in the New York Times Book Review: it “has that rarest of qualities in an autobiography, a story of lives refusing to be victimized by experience."
Easy for me to promote. I've a job, my health, my ability to still play, my social circles of musical colleagues, my hopes and dreams.
Regardless of those "privileges", we are ageing musicians. The circle of opportunity is closing. It's difficult to renew our fan base when our cohort is slowing dwindling and to potential younger fans we look like their dads or worse, granddads.
We Boomers are going out swingin', rockin', poppin' scrappin', and tootin'. No stopping us.
What have we overcome to keep playing?
(I've compiled this list from the experiences of my students, jamming colleagues, and jazz camp buddies.)
I'm going to go and practice.
Two generations apart, four decades, same message.
One day you just look inside yourself and say, "I've had enough", And then importantly, you take the steps and make the decisions that move you into a new positive re-direction. You work on building the relationships and infrasture that will support you moving forward.
In short, you take responsibility and address what needs to be addressed.
A recent release from Fade/Dissolve our cinematic noise trio
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.