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.
Earning power is our most precious resource after our health. We are on a losing path if our clients are aging along with us, or worse, are in an older demographic. They will retire, quit, or die before we do the same. We don’t need the youth vote, but we do need a balance of age groups in our portfolio of clients.
Ten tips for staying relevant as an aging musician:
1. Stay healthy through exercise, sleep hygiene, nutrition, and sex. Reduce the booze. It all starts with this step. Sick and tired goes nowhere.
2. Turn on the radio to have a more informed idea of what’s been going on. If you are 60, check out the music of the 1990s, 2000s, and today. Just for fun, learn a few of the classic pieces from the last 30 years. It doesn't have to be popular music either. Just stuff folks 10-20-30 years younger might being enjoying.
3. Find a new scene with a good distribution of age groups.
b. Jam scenes: Blues, Jazz, Country, what-ever
c. Concert bands
d. Community choirs, you get the picture
4. Take some lessons with an accomplished younger musician. It will restore your faith in humanity, I promise.
5. Listen to the drummer’s resource podcasts. Nick Ruffini has 300+ interviews with working musicians. I’ve learned so much about the industry today from young accomplished musicians and aging veterans.
6. Learn some new styles of music. Start by exploring what’s out there. When you find something new that resonates with you, go deeper. Find some practitioners of this music and hang out.
7. Sign up for a community college course on starting a small business. Learn to count. I found that this very helpful. I used a personal business coach a few years ago. A community college is a more economical option. I love my coach though, turned my business around.
8. Buy a new wardrobe. Sharpen out your look without trying to look 40 years younger. A sharp looking, in shape mature adult is always noticed.
9. Read, read, read. Read about successful aging. It’s not all grim.
10. Listen to comedy on the car radio. Sometimes we need to get out of our bubble.
Tony Jeary has some sage advice to improve our ROE, Return on Effort. His advice? Become a Master.
Tony outlines five areas; here is my summary:
How does this apply to a musician?
Focus on a worthy musical goal: Mine is playing creative music in the Toronto art scene as a drummer and pianist at the highest level I can achieve without derailing my teaching studio.
I have musical coaches I work with regularly weekly
I plan my schedule by the decade, year, quarter, weekly and daily. Really I do.
Step four? I'm working on it. :-)
I receive feedback from my coaches, my practice and performance recordings, and my friends.
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.
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.