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.
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 I say.
The mask was awkward in the beginning, now it is a key part of playing safe. Other protocols include playing in a garage with the doors open, and physically distancing.
Winter will put an end to this soon. We will pick it up in the spring.
This will take work. Work that will get more difficult as this things drags on.
First things don't wait for the government to solve your money problems. Taking a temp job will be better that sitting at home underpaid on government benefits waiting for a miracle. Even a temp job that pays the same as benefits. It gets you up, dressed, and out of the house, or at least interacting with humans on some level. This has got to be better than sitting alone at home stewing in our own juices.
Secondly, seek professional help, we all know in our hearts that we are looking at another year before any kind of communal music making and audience gatherings are allowed. The vaccine will need to work and then be distributed widely to a reluctant and skeptical population to do its possible magic. Ask your doctor, union rep for ideas and possibilities.
Thirdly, take care of yourself. Sleep, exercise in sunlight, eating nutritional meals, and staying sober will up one’s chances to cope.
Fourth, take online lessons or classes if you can swing it. I find this helpful. I interact with my drum tutor weekly, piano tutor bi-weekly.
Fifth, stay close to your friends. Have online coffee meetups, or coffee in the park on a regular basis.
“It is not a mechanical routine but something essential to my daily life. I go to the piano, and I play two preludes and fugues of Bach. I cannot think of doing otherwise. It is a sort of benediction on the house. But that is not its only meaning for me. It is a rediscovery of the world of which I have the joy of being a part. It fills me with awareness of the wonder of life, with a feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being. The music is never the same for me, never. Each day is something new, fantastic, unbelievable. That is Bach, like nature, a miracle!”
Is it possible to improve at this age? Assuming the body is able, the answer is of course an emphatic yes. Can you address the shortcomings in your skill set? Of course.
I got my time together on the drum set at age 61. Really
Do I have goals at the piano? Yes, one simple one and more complex. Be able to beautifully demonstrate for my students their repertoire levels 1 to 10. Secondly, refine my skill in teaching improvisation. You can consider which is the more complex endeavor.
Drumming goals: bring joy to the bandstand, earn a skill level equal to my piano work, and teach drums successfully to keen beginners.
For these goals I’ve created plans, made room, engaged coaches, and allocated my resources.
Lockdown is imminent. What to do?
Three sessions in 2 days.
Where there's a will there is a safe way.
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.
Cognitive overload: Too much information, not enough context, too little time to process and reflect= stress, from the resulting inefficiencies in holding information in our memory for later retrieval.
A good example for musicians in memorizing music. Apparently as we age, we lose abilities with working memory. Memorizing becomes increasingly difficult.
How do we improve our working memory? It's complicated, but decluttering the mind might be of help.
Ten things to help lower this stress to free up our processing power, so to speak.
A recent release from Fade/Dissolve our cinematic noise trio
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.