The aging musician

aydee

Platinum Member
..

Well, I'm 54, just to keep it in perspective, so some of this doesn't apply immediately but it does cross my mind from time to time.

Is the boogieman coming?

I guess like most things .... or at least most creative things, music is an expression of one's creative juices, fueled by ones spirit, passion and skills. Most of science will tell you that human output, specially the creative kind, usually peaks and is in full flight in one's late 20s,but as one gets older it starts to dry up & wane gradually. Not just the physical skills, but ideas begin to get stale, jaded, we are less open to new things. Deteriorating physical skills, attention spans, etc contribute to the a slow & sometimes imperceptible decline.

Of course there are exceptions. There are artists who havent really aged in any sense of the word, and are 'forever young'.

Others prefer to call this transition of life 'evolving'. Peter Erskine, who once powered Weather Report now keeps it real in small acoustic jazz ensembles playing lil teeny weeny drums very softly.

I myself find some moves on the drumkit a little more clumsy now, and it make me wonder ? Is it physical, or mental? Was I tired today? Did I hurt my shoulder in the gym?Do my ears not like this anymore? Should I be freaking out ? What if I cant do this anymore?

Hey, I dont mean for this to be a downer, and of course theres an upside to everything. A big part of me doesnt want to play the same things I used to play in my 20s anymore, anyway. And, of course Im a lot wiser, and much more tasteful, and more 'evolved' now. Than ever before....... : )

Is aging cool ? Uncool? Anyone have any feelings about about this? Frustrations? Panic attacks? A zen undestanding of the universe ?

cheers,
A

....
 
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Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I think like everyone in their 50's (I'm 52 Abe), we're torn between memories of our youthful prowess and our maturing ears. For me, the whole progression thing has been skewed by taking over 20 years out of drumming, indeed, out of music all together (even listening to music). So the "transition" was taking place for a long time without me even realising it.

Sure, when I came back to drumming after so long away, the first thing I noticed was severe physical & skills degradation. "Ah, to be expected" I thought, but alas, it was more than just the time off thing. I'd changed. Certainly my outlook, definitely the choices I applied, & the biggest bummer = the realisation that I was never that good in the first place. The bubble I used to exist in had burst. Suddenly, all this extra information was available, & that put me firmly in my place.

I've sort of leveled out now. At least some of my skills have returned. My groove still isn't as deep as it used to be when I lived the instrument, but it should get there. My yearning to do clever stuff has all but gone, but I think my creativity is still there, just with different choices applied.

Once I get the drum business leveled out a bit better, I'm hoping to turn my attention back to my own playing. Perhaps even practice a little. At that stage, I'll probably be in a better position to answer your question.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I just turned 47 in February and realized that I'll be in that 50-club soon enough. Part of me is still attempting new things and trying to play the best that I can, and part of me has 'been there and done that' too. Aside from these physical ailments that seem to be setting in on me, and causing me to freak out that I won't be able to play as good as I used to, my mental state seems to be rationalizing that I need to simplify what I do anyway (I'm not saying that I know too much, but maybe that I play too much - whereas I can really stand to deepen my groove). So maybe a little physical dis-ability would be a good thing?

Youth is really wasted on the young. I'd probably have a much better career to look back on if I wasn't such a young, arrogant hothead ;)
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
It depends on the shape you're in - physically, mentally and drumming wise. Abe, Bermuda was around your age when I saw him walk up to the drums at the Enmore Theatre pretty well straight after an Indian meal and blaze out a super past polka medley with Al. You can be match fit at any age if you have the health, opportunity, energy and motivation. It's a big if, though.

I'm increasingly less interested in fast tunes. I don't want to rush and stretch and strain any more - not as a player or a listener. Like Andy and Bo I want to play fewer notes, but with better choices, timing and groove.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
I'm soon to turn 47 and can say that there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that aging has impacted me as a musician from a physical, emotional and mental perspective.

I've damaged my hearing due to not wearing ear protection from 1976 until the very late 1990's. Unfortunately / fortunately that was the period when I was playing the loudest and for several hours each day - every day. After visiting a couple hearing professionals, it's confirmed that I've lost 70%+ of the hearing in my right ear and about 15% in my left.

There's a long line of arthritis in my family and I'm no exception. My hands tell me that these days when I play a lot of traditional grip. Playing matched alleviates the issue.

Mentally / emotionally I've pretty much returned 100% to the music I once listened to growing up and fell in love with decades ago. I was born and raised on jazz thanks to having a father who was a jazz drummer. That's where I returned several years ago and that's where my heart lies.

I've also accepted that it's totally OK for me not to touch the instrument for several days in a row if that's what life requires of me. I'm emotionally and mentally totally at peace with it. Back in the day that would of never been the case. Things would of been rescheduled, cancelled and re-prioritized to allow me to be behind the instrument.

This all being said, I do think I play much better now than I have in the past but I play significantly different. I listen to some of the old recordings I've done and am sure I could never recreate that vibe again. More to the point, it doesn't even interest me to try.
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I'm 44, and you guys are scaring me LOL. I am very fortunate to not have any back, or arthritis pains. I do have hearing damage and wear glasses now. As far as drumming and my age go I am still learning new things being creative. The most important thing we older guys have over the young guns out there is WISDOM. Its a great feeling when a younger drummer ask for advice on playing or giging, and actually listen.
 

denisri

Silver Member
Interesting! I'm almost 59. Play local part time 30 to 40 gigs per year. Been playing/performing on and off since I was 11.
My kits smaller! All kits sized for one trip in/one trip out. Moving equipment is more work than the gig!
I have invested a lot of time in technique both physical and metal and challenge myself daily.
As a part time player I wish I could get more playing hours.
I try to play smarter and allow the technique to compensate for "lack of muscle". Power level about the same. I also know my drumming limitations at this point!
Moving equipment is the problem.....very important to keep drumming and active! Denis
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The older I get, the better I play. That's what keeps my interest piqued. It's the one area of my life that keeps improving. Music is one of the great joys of my life and it just keeps getting better. If it didn't, I don't think I could remain this enthusiastic. But I know that every time I play, I am getting better at this game. I can feel it, hear it, taste it. And the reactions of the others confirms this to me. Every gig I extract just a little more enjoyment from my endeavors.

It's kind of like working towards a goal. You spend a lot of your life working hard to reach that goal. At some point, hopefully anyway, you start to reap rewards from all the years spent working towards that goal. That's where I am now, reaping the rewards. I feel good about my playing, enough diverse people genuinely and enthusiastically tell me things about how they love watching me go that confirms to me that I'm not deluding myself, and I am reaping the interest on my investment.

This is without a doubt the most satisfying time in my musical life and it only looks like it will keep getting better. To me aging, from a musical standpoint, is really youth-ing. I'm also interested in keeping healthy and feeling great, so between the hempseed and moringa and apple cider vinegar and borax, along with good clean non fluoridated well water and living as stress free as I can manage, I feel friggin fantastic, and it comes out in my playing. You can age well or you can age terribly, it's all in your attitude.
 

2bsticks

Platinum Member
Denis, I too am 59. Soon to be 60 "ouch" I am playing in two bands and average 120 jobs per year. I agree that one needs to stay active as much as possible. My drive now is to just do the best job I can behind the drums and make the music sound and feel good. I feel I am a better player in some ways because I listen more carefully and play for the song. In the past I was too concerned with speed, chops etc.

I now use mostly a 4 piece kit and that works just fine for the music I am playing. I always wonder how much longer I can keep this pace up in addition to my full time job? Day at a time I guess. I still love to play the drums, I guess it's also my therapy :)
 

yesdog

Silver Member
The older I get, the better I play. That's what keeps my interest piqued. Music is one of the great joys of my life and it just keeps getting better. If it didn't, I don't think I could remain this enthusiastic. But I know that every time I play, I am getting better at this game. I can feel it, hear it, taste it. And the reactions of the others confirms this to me. Every gig I extract just a little more enjoyment from my endeavors.

It's kind of like working towards a goal. You spend a lot of your life working hard to reach that goal. At some point, hopefully anyway, you start to reap rewards from all the years spent working towards that goal. That's where I am now, reaping the rewards. I feel good about my playing, enough diverse people tell me things about how they love watching me go that confirms to me that I'm not deluding myself, and I am reaping the interest on my investment.

This is without a doubt the most satisfying part of my musical life and it only looks like it will keep getting better. To me aging is really youth-ing.
Could not have said it better Larry.
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
the older i get, the smarer i play. i think i get better every year and thats not to say faster or more technical. i know not to overplay now and there was no way to tell me any different when i was younger.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Everyone is different. Most of our master drummers and heroes can get the senior discount at Denny's, and I've run into my share of "old men" in their 30s.

Of course we eventually run into various physical limitations, some earlier than others. But it's the self-imposed mental limitations that can do the most harm to our love for playing.

The saying "it's a young man's game" gets thrown around a lot by 'older' players, and that amuses me. It's not because I'm almost 57 and rocking harder, playing better, and as passionate about music and drumming as I was as a wide-eyed kid 45 years ago. It's because I look around at some of the most successful players, living and dead, drummers and otherwise, who are older than me, and at the top of their fields. Vinnie, Buddy, Bozzio, Krupa, Keltner, Tony Bennett, Sinatra, Streisand, Neil Diamond, and many, many more. Sure they were successful at a young age, but they've also maintained it as they gradually become seniors. Maybe the terms 'senior' and 'golden years' need to be redefined.

Now, while I mentally feel one way about my playing, my career, and music in general, I can't ignore the fact that age is beginning to creep in. Specifically, my lower back has been getting kinda tricky over the last few years. Rather than succumb to that, or hire a younger type to haul my gear around town, or reduce the size of my kit, I've made some sensible, perhaps long-overdue adjustments to let me continue to do what I do, the way that I do it. Splitting up hardware and cymbals (instead of carrying everything in a trap case) has made loading and unloading easier, and using a roller cart has reduced trips in and out of the gig from two or three, to one.

Apart from that aspect of gigging, my playing and energy are better than ever (assuming that demand for my drumming is any indicator.) I'll do this as long as other musicians let me.

Bermuda
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
I am 56, and whatever I have lost physically I have gained in experience. My steadiness and feel are much better than when I was younger, and so is my bass drum playing. I have learned how to lighten the load, and I use a backrest on the throne. Peace and goodwill.
 

Chunkaway

Silver Member
I'm 43, but I think about this all the time. The first thing I notice about my age is how OTHER people react. My love is playing original music, but it is VERY difficult finding an original band that wants a 43 year old drummer. Most of the ads I see are for people 30 and under. Damn shame.

I do feel like my playing has gotten much better. My timing is better, my playing is smoother, I groove harder, etc.. I feel like I am a much better listener, and as such, my playing fits the song better. Perhaps with that, I'm not quite as "out there" as I used to be, but I think the trade off is worth it.

To be honest, I have certainly lost some of the speed/power that I used to have. I probably could get some of those things back if I worked at it, but I just don't play that kind of music any more.
 

MonkeysFly

Junior Member
I hear ya dude. I'm wondering if I should even still be playing. I'm 45 and I feel like I'm the only one that I know, who, the more I practice, the worst I get! Talk about sooooo frustrating. I played in a band for 15 years and left in 2005. Since then and 8 years later, I've only played a few gigs here or there with some cover bands but nothing serious. So by not playing with live musicians, that I know, is a part of the problem. But you know, I actually can "feel" that my physical ability has declined since then and still slowly continues. So I finally decided 4 months ago to "get serious again" and go back to basics. Maybe that will help me?? Try and learn things that I never did because I was young and didn't know any better, and re-learn things that I lost. Well for the past 4 months now, I've been beating myself up trying to play everyday for 1 1/2- 2 hours. I throw on the metronome and go. I've even planned and charted out what I want to do, along with metronome speeds and all durations at 3 minutes. But I am not experiencing any progression!!! I'm STILL stuck on the SAME metronome speeds!! All I can get out of my feet on double bass is 118 bpm. And sometimes, I can't even do that. My rudiments are still only at 110 bpm, etc, etc....my self confidence is at it's lowest point it's ever been. I sometimes think that when I chose to play the drums years ago, God slapped his hands on his forehead and said, "dang!! That's NOT what he was suppose to choose. Now I have to rearrange his and other's lives to compensate for this".....hahahaha, funny, but I don't feel I'm physically capable of going any further....what do I do?? If I back away, my joints will only get to being stiff again so I'm affraid of stopping. But if I continue, I just keep getting more and more frustrated......
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Is aging cool ? Uncool? Anyone have any feelings about about this?
Well I'm 54, heading for 55 in September, yet, I'm facing a new beginning in another country move, a new career, a new lifestyle and hopefully a new band... and at my age it's a challenge :)

Physically, life has taken its toll, the mileage shows inside and out, there's some pain here and there that I didn't have a few years ago, but I manage them the best I can.

I'm a far better drummer than when I was younger, I guess maturity, experience and some practice has something to do with it :)

I'm more happy within my drumming bubble than I ever was, even my ears have taken some beating for all those early years without protection during those very loud rock band rehearsals, but they've gain much experience in listening, both to my own drumming and to others musicians.

I'll join the club of those who do not want to play such loud music, such fast tempo, nowadays my goals are feel and groove more than ever.

Age is first and foremost a state of mind (except the apparent "vintage" look), I still feel very young sometimes and I can behave like a young kid :)


A zen undestanding of the universe ?
I'm somehow surprised Grea didn't elaborate on this topic...

...perhaps I should tease her a bit :)

...
 

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spleeeeen

Platinum Member
This thread got me thinking about an interview with Hank Jones I heard years ago. I did a quick search and found a transcript of the part I was remembering:

GROSS: As you approach your 87th birthday, does it surprise you that you've, you know, outlived and outlived for years, your younger brothers Elvin and Thad?

Mr. JONES: Well, I don't know. I tell you, it's certainly disheartening. But I dont know. I don't know whether I should feel surprised or not. I've always lived my life a certain way. I don't - perhaps, my life style has something to do with my longevity. Hopefully it did. But, you know, nobody lives forever, of course, and maybe it was just their time and it's not my time yet, you know? I intend to go on for until I'm 250. I'm working on that now, actively.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JONES: I hope to play better than I played the last time. That's my objective: to always do better, to reach another level, a higher level.

GROSS: Does mean that you're still practicing? I mean do you still like practice at home?

Mr. JONES: Oh, of course. Oh, of course. Yes. I dont see how anybody can do without practicing, you know? I do...

GROSS: What do you do when you practice now?

Mr. JONES: I do scales, exercises and I try to learn new material.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. JONES: And review old material. You see, I try to be conversant with the piano. You have to be on good speaking terms with the piano or the piano will rebuff you, you know.
I've heard the piano described as a man-eating monster with black and white teeth. And its true.​

So, taking a cue from Mr. Jones, as I age, I strive daily to stay on good terms with my drums. ;-)
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I'm 43, but I think about this all the time. The first thing I notice about my age is how OTHER people react. My love is playing original music, but it is VERY difficult finding an original band that wants a 43 year old drummer. Most of the ads I see are for people 30 and under. Damn shame.
I have the same experience. I think I can still rock out and keep up with younger folks but they don't want any grey hair (or no hair...lol) in the band. Locally it is difficult to find the right people the older you get. Agism reigns in music....at least in the assembly of bands, covers or originals.

Lets face it, the main or only reason Wolfgang van Halen is playing with his dad is because his dad is Eddie.
 

Liebe zeit

Silver Member
I started drumming properly when I was 47 and now I'm 49 and been at it for 2.5 years. So, I'm avoiding all this "ageing drummer" business by feeling like a teenager, getting chops-ier and faster too :D
 
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