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.
Back from a recording session with my hobby band. Bed tracks of guitar, bass, and drums live off the floor. A click track was used. After a few bumps in the road we got all the tracks done. None in the first or second take though. Most on the 3rd, a few on the 5th.
What did I learn?
Time, Tone, Feel, Facility, Repertoire
· No time, no gigs
· No tone, no gigs
· No feel, no gigs
· No facility, no gigs
· Inadequate repertoire, no gigs
For those of us who play “beat music”, practicing with a metronome is mandatory. When I play classical piano, not so mandatory.
Recording our practices reveals to us our progress in time, tone, feel, facility. Knowing the repertoire makes us employable. A lot of this can be done by ourselves after we have reached a certain level. But, it’s always good to seek out a coach from time to time. After all, even poor Tiger Woods has coaches. The Toronto Maple Leafs don’t practice without several coaches observing, pushing and evaluating. Why do so many musicians think they are so different? Good question.
Wynton Marsalis on practicing: Confront your deficiencies
Every few years I need to rethink, reconsider, regroup, refocus my activities. After 2 years in my new home of Toronto, the time is now to do just those things.
When I first moved here my professional goal was to successfully establish my teaching studio. Secondly, find folks to play with and make beautiful music. Done.
Now it's time to move the studio to the next level by increasing the value of my work for my students.
Plus my regular day gig. How do I feel? Freaking beat. And, a bit sore in the upper back. Time for rest, stretching, and some heat. I think I over did it.
“Stress demands rest, and rest supports stress.”
― Brad Stulberg, Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
Sometimes the best strategy is to fix bayonets and charge the hill. Really. Guaranteed to catch everyone off guard. And, it might work.
Step one: Make a goal, write it down, etc. You know the drill. Think you are too old. BS, I almost 60 and nobody and I mean nobody said to me, "what are you doing here?"
Step two: Prepare
Step Three: Get out there
I'm now jamming and playing shows on drums in my new home of Toronto. Nearly everyone I play with is younger than me, sometimes a lot younger. (25 years old and up!) Some are older too.
If we are not growing, we are dying. A universal law. Without future plans, you're done. Goal setting isn't only for the young. So, here goes.
Make the following lists:
Here are my drumming lists:
Please notice that my short and long term goals are in harmony with the rest of the lists.
Depends. It depends on how your self-concept. And, the health of your mind and body. If you are the resigned type who declares to all that will listen, "I'm a .... always have been, always will be". For you it will be difficult.
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Sophia Loren
To which I would add, "your energy level."
Try this. Make a list of musical styles you've thought about and either never played or mastered to any level of accomplishment. Then, go to a show or two, take it all in. Do some research of the most common repertoire in that style. Learn the top 10 tunes. Next, go to a jam and hang out, take notes. On your third visit ask to sit in. Call one of the tunes. Voila, you've just changed course.
Never played brushes? Here is a good start.
Now, a caveat I must bring up. If you are being treated or need treatment for mental health issues this blog is not a substitute for medical attention. I'm not a doctor. Be smart, stay safe, take care of yourself.
It's the best activity for keeping the well of joy full. Younger musicians dream of the future, not the past. That makes for a refreshing experience.
Are you practicing or just screwing around?
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.