What is an attitude adjustment? That’s a good question. What do you think? I think it is dissatisfaction with your status quo or “stinkin thinkin’” that leads to action so that dark days become sunnier.
A good attitude verse a bad attitude
It was easier in the old days because we played weekly gigs. Some of us remember 6 nights a week and weekend matinees. But, like everything else this is a new day. No point lamenting the "good 'ol days".
Gerald Klickstein suggests making repertoire lists and creating a maintenance schedule that cycles through this list. The cycle length is determined by the complexity of the music. So, 100 Jazz Standards (for a basic jamming list see http://www.hopestreetmusicstudios.com/articles/100-must-know-jazz-tunes) The first list has 50 tunes, I know 25 intimately. No point spending time on those. That leaves 25 needing a tune up.
Some great ideas here: https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-best-spaced-repetition-schedule
Every goal needs a why big enough to keep us going when the going gets tough. My why? I'm enjoying playing jazz around town in jam sessions. On drums I'm cool. On piano I've a few frustrations with my repertoire being a little rusty. It is a point of pride that jazz musicians play from memory. No fakebooks, or apps on the phone to get us through. I had to use an iReal B to get through "There will never be another you" last Thursday. Sax player, my age, looked at the phone and said, "so that's how it's going to be?" How embarrassing.
Here my plan of getting 25 more Jazz Standards back into my working memory using the 2X2X2 method of spaced repetition as advocated on the quora site.
In a nutshell: review each tune practiced the following day then in ten days, in thirty days, and finally sixty days. To which I'll add: keeping a playlist of tunes on my phone to listen to in the car.
Day One: Tune A
Day Two: Tune A and tune B
Day Three Tune B and tune C
Day Ten: Tune A (at this point I'm reviewing three tunes a day, one in depth, two less so)
Day Eleven: Tune B
Day Thirty: Tune A (at this point I'm reviewing four tunes a day, one in depth, three less so)
Day Sixty: Tune A (at this point I'm reviewing five tunes a day, one in depth, four less so)
At this point Tune A should be stuck in there. I'll keep you up to date on my progress. And, at Jams I'll suggest tunes from the new list.
I'm seven years in. Here is what I learned from the experience.
From my facebook post of Sunday night.
"Played a show tonight with Glen Hall and Diane Roblin as a drummer. It has been an interesting journey taking up this instrument and progressing to the point where I'm welcomed to join in. This ongoing experience of learning has reinforced the obvious.
1. Start with desire. "Without desire you have nothing" Nadia Boulanger
2. Get a great teacher. Thank you Terry Clarke, Paul DeLong, Gregory Hutchinson, and Kevin Dempsey.
3. Make time to practice.
4. Get out there and play."
To which I'd add, "screw fear".
"Metacognition - Wikipedia
Metacognition is "cognition about cognition", "thinking about thinking", or "knowing about knowing" and higher order thinking skills. It comes from the root word "meta", meaning beyond. It can take many forms; it includes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving."
In short, taking responsibility for our own learning to avoid the following.
“Why People Fail to Recognize Their Own Incompetence” (2003). They found that “people tend to be blissfully unaware of their incompetence,” lacking “insight about deficiencies in their intellectual and social skills.” They identified this pattern across domains—from test-taking, writing grammatically, thinking logically, to recognizing humor, to hunters’ knowledge about firearms and medical lab technicians’ knowledge of medical terminology and problem-solving skills. In short, “if people lack the skills to produce correct answers, they are also cursed with an inability to know when their answers, or anyone else’s, are right or wrong”. https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/metacognition/
This short article is worth a quick read and a moment of reflection. The authors present several helpful suggestions to help us grow as learners (musicians). I will leave you with this strategy which I've adapted for musicians.
"How did the gig go last night?"
"I don't know, but I made a recording off the bandstand. Let's listen and discuss the results at the next rehearsal"
Competence or incompetence exposed. To grow as humans, we got to man up to the truth. Or woman up as the case may be.
Sometimes the best way to stay inspired is just to get out and hear some great music. I head home in the morning. I can hardly wait to get behind the drum kit.
Apparently stress levels sometimes rise in older musicians to the point where thaey hang it up. By older musicians I mean after age 45 years. In the abstract, "the aging musician" https://www.deepdyve.com/lp/ios-press/the-aging-musician-VYGFTo0Pil
What might cause stress you rise to the level where we want to hang it up? Here is my story.
In my mid-forties I found myself working in the corporate entertainment world. The world of household names, large productions, and real money. It was flattering to be there, in the beginning. Real money allows you to hire and play with the very best musicians. But, as time went by the triviality of hawking corporate products: cell phones, hardware stores, credit cards, and toothpaste did wear a bit thin.
Stress went up, way up. I started to dread the idea of playing. One thing that stood out was the level of fear in the corporate Canada. Everyday, or so it seemed to me, folks feared losing their jobs or reducing their future promotion potential over the success of a cocktail party announcing a new brand of soap. I decided enough is enough. I went back to school and earned an ARCT from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and re-invented myself as a full time piano teacher. Good move, less stress, more music, stable income.
Then, I took up the drums at 50. Seven years later I'm playing both piano and drums in the Improvisation Community in Toronto once a month, jamming weekly, and having a blast. I write this from New Orleans where I'm attending the Jazz Educators Network annual conference. Thousands of jazz fans, students, and their teachers. Tomorrow I attend a workshop on musician wellness, stay tuned.
Would I go back to full time gigging? No way. Do I miss it? Sometimes.
Other causes of stress
Goal #1: Be here in 2018
It has been a year of tumultuous changes in the world. To quote the Guardian, "So you thought 2016 was an unpredictable bastard. Now meet 2017, his wilder sister." I'll leave the whining and fear mongering to others. Screw that. I'm inviting us musicians, especially those on the ever-shorting track, to consider another tack.
Be positive, proactive, adventuresome, audacious and...
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.