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.
Moldy bread verses happy puppy about sums it up. Or Grumpy cat verses a first date. Twice in the last couple of weeks I experienced listening to a couple of mature musicians performing sets at modest gigs. One at a mother's day brunch, the other online. Both men were dressed in tuxedos with bow ties circa 1977. The repertoire was so 1977. They played lovely. But, it was a meloncholy experience for me. I love the old stuff too, but... They might have spiced it up a bit. Even my 83 year old mother said as much.
My drum practice now averages 10 hours a week. I’m organized, I’ve a long-term plan, a 6-month plan, and monthly, weekly, daily practice plans. The practice space is in order, I’ve an accountability partner, a master teacher, workshops planned for the summer. I have deep listening sessions nearly everyday. I practice rudiments with my feet, I play along with great recordings. I’ve studied the history of jazz drumming. I’ve amassed over 90 tracks which have no drums. My jam partners have names like Oscar, Benny, Marc, Jim, Keith, Diana, and Barney. I’ve worked on my time. I’ve listened to over 400 episodes of drummer’s resource podcast. It goes on. Over the last decade since I’ve started, I’m about 5,000 hours in. I’ve listened to thousands of hours of practice sessions. Maybe 100 gigabits plus on my hard drive. I hang with other adults on a similar journey.
How are my hands and feet? My spirit?
(My long term goals.
It has been a great way to spend my 50s. Now to think ahead to my quickly approaching 60s.
The video below suggest ideas around staying in the game.
Another night of big band playing. Wow what blast, I'm grateful to have been invited. What did I learn? Some thoughts on my performance that come to mind are:
Now I'm off to see Terry Clarke for some coaching.
Last Wednesday I showed up at new boxing club for a cardio workout. Full of young bucks swinging away. Yikes. A couple of old guys, I was definitely the oldest. Over the next 60 minutes there was:
Wow, I'm still standing. I'll be back.
Piano update. I teach piano: jazz and classical piano. The piano has fed me for over 40 years. But, as you know from reading this blog, I'm devoted to learning to play the drums with the dream that maybe someday my drumming will equal my piano playing. So, piano practice has been neglected.
Over the last few weeks, I've been practicing 30 minutes a day advanced classical repertoire. Tonight I went to my first jam since starting this project. My friend Tim has a lovely well maintained piano. The guys all play well, they are friends. They all noticed a change in my playing. The piano was singing.
Next week 45 minutes a day.
What happens when at age 59 you go from 7 hours a week to 10 hours a week of practice?
Since I started playing drums at age 50 I've been averaging about an hour a day of disciplined practice on the kit. On top of that add passive listening time. This year I thought what the heck, let's go to 10 hours a week and see what happens.
A lot. I'm just finishing my third month and the hands and feet have never felt better. I've become even more focused on the exercises from my various teachers over the years.
Musicians can hear the changes. I can hear the changes.
That's the good news. The concerning news is this. This past week was a bit tough, I'm pooped. I didn't make my numbers. I'm always watching the clock.
The challenge this week to mediate on how to maintain my enthusiasm and energy. Rearranging some elements of my work schedule is one step. Keeping up my exercise regime is the second. Practice has eaten into exercise time, not a good thing.
Reading Brad Stulberg's new book: "The passion paradox" is a priority this week. More on this book soon.
In the meantime general rules apply.
Just back from a week away in the Azores. We had a great time. Do I feel refreshed? No. I think I've reached the age where I need instruction on how to have a vacation. Here are my self instructions, I hope you find them helpful.
Today my 2 jazz jam buddies gave me some firm direction on how to play jazz drums. Ditch the steady 4 on the floor bass drums and just accent with the snare/bass drum. It will tighten up the time and lighten up the texture. " We don't need you to keep time".
Bingo, 9 years of occasional chunkiness goes poof.
In 2015 over lunch Rufus Reid told me how to comp and play the ride pattern on the jazz kit. I was in a serious funk. I had just come from a workshop where trumpeter/drummer Bobby Shew, vibraphonist/percussionist Dick Sisto, and legendary drummer/teacher Ed Soph simultaneously critiqued my playing in front of my classmates, while I haplessly played away. It wasn't pretty. I went to lunch ready to call it a day, hand in my sticks and head back to Canada.
Rufus saved my drumming career over lunch when he saw me sitting alone looking like I lost my best friend. Sitting down he asked me what was the matter. I told him. He said, "Play quarters on the ride and whenever you detect a space in the soloist and or melody, throw in the skip beat and/or comping 8th note" Bingo more flow, more listening. Thank you Rufus.
There is a lesson for all of us here: Take direction from master musicians, value feedback, and suck it up.
I do a lot of music coaching everyday. It is interesting work. The most important part of the work is helping musicians get their goals and desires congruent with the time and resources available to them.
Next, is guiding them to enjoy the process of getting better. Musicians spend most of their time alone with their instrument. So, we all have had to get comfortable with being alone doing the work of mastering the instrument. A former mentor suggested I get good before I get "creative". Forty years later I understand.
Last point for this post is the idea that welcoming feedback is crucial for development. Simple way to start? Record yourself, take lessons, attend a workshop, post a performance online if you dare, go to a jam, join a band. Get out there.
When to act your age? When things get serious.
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.