"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards to be born?"
The inevitable lockdown is coming. Cases are soaring, too many people are ignoring health regulations through selflessness, willful ignorance, fear and stupidity.
Our return date to the rehearsal room, concert hall, teaching studio has been pushed back again. My guess until the late spring, early summer. Vaccines or no vaccines.
My take on coming out the other side. I will be:
“Flexibility, improvisation, practicality, and the ability to recognize and respond to changing environments”
Ten things you might consider:
Louis Armstrong is reported to have remarked, "musicians don't retire, people just stop calling". Then we move into community groups of various sorts. Rarely do we hang up the horn completely.
Over the last decade, as a both pianist and drummer, I have played in:
In these settings I have met countless career musicians. Long after the roar of the crowd has dimmed, we are still at it: playing, jamming, practicing, and swapping tall tales.
We the musicians.
Take care of yourself.
Assuming you can find the motivation to practice when the world is falling apart, I'd ramp up practice time slowly to avoid injury. Every year at jazz camp I meet so many "hobby" musicians who after 2 or 3 days are in trouble. Bleeding fingers on bass players, blown embouchures on brass players, tendentious flaring up in pianists and drummers. There are tears.
So, I suggest ramping up practice about 10% a week. Warming up the muscles before you thrash the hell out of your instrument is helpful too. I'm working out in my home gym this morning and then heading to the practice studio.
For helpful advice I suggest all eager musicians read "The Musicians Way". I read it like many people read holy books.
Self worth theory"The self-worth theory posits that an individual’s main priority in life is to find self-acceptance and that self-acceptance is often found through achievement (Covington & Beery, 1976). In turn, achievement is often found through competition with others. Jul 4 2019" Reference: positivepsychologyprogram.com/self-worth/
"The effort an individual puts in for the maximisation of academic competence to protect self-worth is often defined as a “double-edged sword”; while it is an essential factor of success, it can also result in feelings of worthlessness and incapability if one fails. To avoid the conclusion of incapability and hence maintain self-worth, some students choose to use defensive strategies such as putting in less effort and setting low standards towards the event of evaluation. These strategies, which support the maintenance of self-worth, are called self-handicapping and defensive pessimism respectively. "
Self handicapping, what an idea. As a music teacher I've often seen this phenomenon. Students who say they want X and then promptly charge of in the direction of Y.
The video above from Nic Voge outlines "self worth theory" that tries to explain the issue: underachievement as coping strategy to avoid stepping out of our comfort zone. After all, if we are going to reach our potential as musicians dealing with procrastination is paramount.
Enjoy the video.
"The smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd"
Eventually this will come to an end. The body will give out, desire may die, or more pressing responsibilities will assert themselves.
What to do?
Why do adults advise their children to find the safe path in life. Rarely have I ever met a parent who, to my knowledge, said, "Johnny or Sally, do something heroic with your life, be courageous, get your shit together and go for it" Not too many.
One of my former students is finishing up a short tour in Europe with her Feminist non-binary punk band. I'm impressed. Really impressed. I've know her since she was 5 years old, she was determined very early. Parents were behind her all the way.
What makes Willy Nelson run? Eighty six years old and still touring hard. Tomorrow night he appears at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, CA with Tennessee Jet. 730 PM
Here's my best explanation.
He loves his fans.
He loves the love.
He loves the road.
He loves his musicians.
He loves the music.
If he wasn't touring he just be an old man in a home telling everyone about when he used to be great.
He's going out with his boots on and ass in the saddle.
If you are blessed to have the privilege of going all in, life has the potential of being quite an adventure in the here and now. Some thought on going all in without ruining your life.
Cheers from grumpy,
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.