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.
Violinist Mark Fewer is breaking down old barrios between “classical” and “jazz” in 2018. Throughout my life span this barrier has been strong. Musicians have identified as one or the other. His exciting program started with a solo Bach piece, followed by a duo performance with cellist Joseph Johnson of a large work by Kodaly. Intermission was followed by a jazz trio with guitarist Nathan Hiltz and bassist Justin Gray. Mark was swingin’ hard, it was very exciting.
How many opportunities for musical growth and exciting collaborations have we musicians missed in the past due to this self imposed barriers? Good question.
I did it. I got a trainer, a boxing trainer at that. Day 1 done. I'm still standing. I was in much better shape that I thought. I look forward to our next meeting. Who knew boxing was so interesting?
Aaron, the trainer, goes how was that? I said, "call me in the morning and I'll let you know." Right know I feel like a super hero. Cool. Now off to work.
Thank you to Martin Hagger Professor of Psychology at Curtin University for the above picture.
I've come to believe that the field of sports psychology has a lot to teach us musicians, both as professionals and students.
The good professor explores in some detail each of the above areas.
Over the next few blog posts I will dig deeper into this area.
4.5 hours a day watching TV
1. 4 hours a day staring at media on our phones
It gets worse. According to CNN we spend upward of 50 hours of the 58 hours the average person has available for leisure, staring at some kind of damn screen watching/listening/and doing god knows what. That leaves very little for practicing our instruments, jamming, making music and having fun.
Get all the depressing news here. CNN report.
The solution is obvious.
Getting old can suck. Arthritis can sideline anyone. But my 77 year old student found out there are some work arounds that keep her in the music game.
She started a webpage of original arrangements of folksongs from her home country of Scotland. She has learned to score the music in finale, create mp3 files, print the pdfs, and put it all together in a lovely website. It's a busy site with hundreds of downloads a week of her easy piano arrangements. She is having a ball. Each week at lessons she has a few new arrangements for class. We review, I suggest, she updates the files and presto up they go.
My wife, who has taken up the fiddle in her 60's, is enjoying playing some of the melodies.
What a great example of "staying in the game".
Cycling home today I passed a house having a BBQ with a live band jamming in the back yard. Band is a generous term. Guitar, bass, drum thingys. It was wonderfully awful: enthusiastic, spirited, sincere, and likely slightly drunk. All I wanted to do was run home grab a drum or keyboard and knock on the door with beers in hand. I overcame the urge. But it made me think why do we jam.
So, in conclusion, it's time to dust off the guitar, get out of the house and meet some folks.
It is possible to be doing all the right things to succeed but realise you've planted your garden on the wrong plot of land. To continue the metaphor, the plants look sickly, or worse refuse to show their heads. What then?
Change your environment.
Same effort, different soil=different results.
Five things you can do.
Sarcopenia "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sarcopenia is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass (0.5–1% loss per year after the age of 50), quality, and strength associated with aging. Sarcopenia is a component of the frailty syndrome. It is often a component of cachexia. It can also exist independently of cachexia; whereas cachexia includes malaise and is secondary to an underlying pathosis (such as cancer), sarcopenia may occur in healthy people and does not necessarily include malaise. The term is from Greek σάρξ sarx, "flesh" and πενία penia, "poverty".
A quote from the NY Times article: In 1988, "Walter R. Frontera and colleagues at the Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University demonstrated that 12 previously sedentary men aged 60 to 72 significantly increased their leg strength and muscle mass with a 12-week strength-training program three times a week."
Conclusion: To maintain our ability to play over the long term we need to be healthy enough to pick up our instruments, get out the door, and survive a few hours of playing. Twelve weeks of strength training, at any age, apparently does wonders. So does a healthy diet, proper rest, and social contact.
See you at the gym.
I’m bored and embarrassed with my musical groups. Time for a shift.
Periodically a musician needs to reassess their commitments and direction. For me that time has arrived. I’m bored of much of what I’ve been doing musically here in Toronto. Some preliminary thoughts and principles to guide deliberations.
1. No going back to relive past glories. I’ve changed, but the world has changed even more.
2. It must be congruent with my marriage and work. Not a time to screw this up.
3. If I’m not proud enough to invite my friends and clients, forget it.
4. It must make me stretch to make it a worthy use of the precious time I’ve got left on this planet.
This past summer I spent time in New Orleans studying Traditional Jazz with Gerald French which culminated with a performance in Preservation Hall. This was followed up with a trip to Poland to study mainstream jazz with Ali Jackson of Wynton Marsalis fame. We played at the Vertigo Jazz Club, a beautiful well attended old fashioned jazz supper club. The first group: old, second young. Both group of musicians could really play. It blew me away. I really had fun. It was an endorphin explosion. I haven’t had so much fun playing music since college 40 years ago. It has given me the confidence and desire to try some new things. So, what shall I try?
One of the most exciting musical weeks since college 40 years ago. Ali Jackson was inspiring, tough, and encouraging. And, the young musicians I played with challenged me to the limit. Playing with bassist Luques Curtis at Vertigo Jazz Club was a highlight. After hearing him play with us, my wife remarked, "Oh, that is what all the bass players are trying to do". My dignity is intact.
Poland was beautiful, sophisticated, and friendly.
The jazz scene in Europe is as robust as ever. Young musicians can actually aspire to be jazz musicians.
Lastly, it was very exciting to meet and play with so many Russian musicians. Who knew there was a thriving jazz scene in Moscow.
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.