Ari Hoenig, jazz drummer
We live large in the catastrophic click bait age. It's only going to get worse. Count on it. Louder and shriller.
So, how do we turn off without turning inward?
I haven't the friggin' foggiest idea.
An ever-present danger. Giving up, settling early. This past year has been unprecedented. Most people have been inconvenienced. Some though have been deeply affected by job loss, illness, or death.
Assuming you are in the first group and not the second how do we proceed and stay engaged in a world of imagination and action?
‘Ne supra crepidiam judicaret,” meaning, ‘Let him not criticize above the sandal.’ Apelles
Ultracrepidarianism is the giving of opinions and advice on matters outside of one's knowledge.
A real danger in aging.
Closely followed by the Dunning-Kruger effect.
The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from people's inability to recognize their lack of ability. Without the self-awareness of metacognition, people cannot objectively evaluate their level of competence. From Wikipedia
Given the above, what can one be sure about? Not much. On the other hand, quite a bit we remember the shoemaker folly.
I know how to:
What's on your "I know how to" list?
Forty five years ago Linda, my girlfriend, and I travelled from North Bay to Toronto to take in the spectacle. This past week I was teaching a 5 year old how to play along on the drums.
Life is exciting.
1. Find new folks to play with. I did it a decade ago, it's taken me around the world. Got me out of more than one rut. The picture above is one example: Preservation Hall New Orleans, yep that happy guy is me.
2. Change instruments. I teach piano, I live for the drums. An instrument I took up over a decade ago. It changed everything. Made all the old jazz and rock repertoire I'd be playing for years new again.
3. Musicians don't retire, they just change bands. Good advice from a forgotten source. Just be gracious as you step aside into less demanding formats. The pressure is off, have fun.
4. Teach the younger generation. Be open to learn from them. Help them, but realize they are entering a different world than the one you are leaving.
5. During these times, the world's best are mostly sitting at home. Call them, book a class or two. They'll be happy to hear from you, you'll be happy to have met them.
6. Learn a new musical skill from a reputable source. Good deep. Check out Berklee online: Individual Courses | Berklee College of Music
7. Play music with your spouse. Suck it up, have fun. Especially if they are not professional. The feeling is great. I know firsthand.
Have a great year,
Let's play a game. Make a list of 10 musical adventures that would inspire you to get busy, get moving, and stay at it. Then pick one from the list and get going.
My 86 year old father just signed up for cello lessons, the first since high school. They are going well. He can barely speak of anything else. He called up the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and asked for a recommendation. He got one.
My wife, who will be retired when this is published, just completed her first violin exam at the Royal Conservatory of Music. It was a big success. She could barely wait to start the next level. See this link for a full description. My first violin exam - David Story Online Toronto Piano Teacher .
In the reality series "Travels With My Father, "daddy" is 80 and he's game.
So, if you are healthy enough to move, get moving I say.
I'm off to practice,
Meaning a Life. Shortly after the book appeared, the poet Michael Heller praised its sensibility in the New York Times Book Review: it “has that rarest of qualities in an autobiography, a story of lives refusing to be victimized by experience."
Easy for me to promote. I've a job, my health, my ability to still play, my social circles of musical colleagues, my hopes and dreams.
Regardless of those "privileges", we are ageing musicians. The circle of opportunity is closing. It's difficult to renew our fan base when our cohort is slowing dwindling and to potential younger fans we look like their dads or worse, granddads.
We Boomers are going out swingin', rockin', poppin' scrappin', and tootin'. No stopping us.
What have we overcome to keep playing?
(I've compiled this list from the experiences of my students, jamming colleagues, and jazz camp buddies.)
I'm going to go and practice.
"I dwell in possibility" Emily Dickinson
Good question. Over the last decade I've been to jazz camps, jazz workshops, and jazz conventions in Canada, USA, Italy, and Poland, All of them were unforgettable experiences.
The thought of being in a small enclosed space with a bunch of senior citizens and college age kids is a non-starter for me. Hanging out on Bourbon street on a Saturday night taking in the all sights seems like a distant hope. Jamming in the French Quarter or a New York basement just sounds dangerous.
Even when a vaccine arrives this thing is not going to be over if lots of folks refuse to take it. Herd immunity will take longer if a significant portion of the population refuse it.
If we want to return to our former life as musicians we must support and follow all the health directives. And, encourage others as well.
In the meantime stay safe, be smart, work out, network daily, encourage your discouraged friends, hug your spouse, and practice like mad.
Repertoire, repertoire, repertoire.
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.