Making music as you get older

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lykwydchykyn
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Making music as you get older

Post by lykwydchykyn »

Just something I've been thinking about lately, might be interesting to discuss.

When I was a teenager and started recording music in my bedroom, people thought that was pretty cool.

When I was a 20-something, touring with a band, making "real albums", and also making demos in my bedroom, people thought that was really cool.

Now I'm in my 40s. As I've gotten older, I feel like the enthusiasm from others has died. Ironically, my skills, my writing, and technology have only improved. I actually struggle with wanting to share new recordings with people who I know personally, because I'm a little self-conscious that I'm still making "home recordings" at my age.

I feel like there's a few social perceptions that contribute to this:

- That there's no value in creating original music if you aren't "Trying to make it" as a pro.
- That a person my age shouldn't be "Trying to make it", because stardom is for young people.

It's as if people don't really care about the music, they only care about celebrity or the potential for celebrity. Once it becomes apparent that you aren't in the running for stardom, nobody cares.

I stopped making music for several years over this, but I started again because I realized I just need to make music for ME, even if it will never go beyond a handful of listeners.

Anyone else feel what I'm feeling? Have thoughts on this?

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bhilmers
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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by bhilmers »

lykwydchykyn wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 4:52 pm
Anyone else feel what I'm feeling?
Nope! I make music because I am obsessive/compulsive about it. I've always done it for myself and as a way to spend time with friends. If I could, I would do it all day, every day, and I've felt that way for 30+ years. I've never experienced the social pressure you described, even when I was younger, in multiple bands, and playing gigs regularly. My attitude has always been "I'm doing this for me, and if you like it, cool, if not, I don't care whatsoever."

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English Guy
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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by English Guy »

I have found more enthusiasm for what I do from strangers than most (but not all) people I know, ironic isn't it?

folderol
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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by folderol »

There is the old saying:
"A prophet is never accepted in his own country"
I think that's what you're coming up against. Me? I just compose/play music because something in me says I have to. If anyone else likes it, that's a bonus :lol:

bitsnpcs
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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by bitsnpcs »

@lykwydchykyn
I encourage you to continue to play your music for all of your life, and enjoy it for you. Never give up :)
Last edited by bitsnpcs on Fri Mar 20, 2020 2:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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ufug
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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by ufug »

lykwydchykyn wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 4:52 pm
I actually struggle with wanting to share new recordings with people who I know personally, because I'm a little self-conscious that I'm still making "home recordings" at my age.
There's no reason to feel self-conscious about being a musician. It's the squares who should be self conscious. :lol:

I totally hear what you are saying though. Most people don't really "get" music as a passion. They only listen to the music they liked when they were teenagers (over and over) or forget about having music in their lives entirely. The older you get, the more you realize that having a creative life is a special thing. If you have one, count your lucky stars! I'm not saying that non-art-making folks aren't good people, it's just that they aren't really interested or engaged in the creative world. It's "weird" to them, like you are somehow being subversive ;) That's been my experience anyway. Heck, I spent a decade working for a booking/management agency and most of my coworkers there weren't interested in music, they were just interested in the cool factor of working for well known musicians. Weird.

I'm a little older than you but share the general trajectory. Lots of bands when I was younger, touring and recording. Then one by one my peers started putting the instruments in their closets. There's waaay fewer of my tribe still playing than there used to be. It's kind of natural for people who want to "move on with their lives." I suspect they wanted to be rock stars, not musicians. The folks who were the real deal are still playing and going out to see each other.

Like you, what I do has evolved though. I can't play in a club and go on at midnight anymore, no way. I moved on to playing in lower volume bands, then played for years in bands that performed old timey music in nursing homes. Now I only have club gigs backing up friends once or twice a year, max. I've always written, but now that's all I want to do (that and learning how to mix/engineer better, which hadn't ever been a focus for me before). I've got 48 new songs under my belt in the last four years, not so bad for an old fart.

It's pretty clear you're not going to be able to stop either. Congrats!
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GMaq
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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by GMaq »

Lots of good advice here!

@lykwydchyckyn

I totally understand what you are talking about.. I live in a rural farming community and being a musician (or remotely liberal in any sense of the word) is already too "weird" for most people... that is until they need a band for some sort of milestone family event and then the weirdness can be tolerated for convenience sake..

I agree with @ufug completely, although it means nothing in a comparative or qualitative sense being in mid life and still having the passion to create and improve and hone your craft is actually very good for your mental health and while those around you are collecting mental moss and slowly declining into ruts and self imposed limitations you can enjoy a world that only gets better and will never run out of things to do and ways to improve. It is also a great thing to share and enjoy with kids, they feed you new inspiration and you educate them on the rudiments and history..

My life circumstances radically changed a few years ago and much of the time I'm a lone empty nester, this winter I brought one of our drum kits in and set it up in my living room beside the kitchen table to practise more and I take secret delight in all the sales people and neighborhood fuddy duddies who pop by occasionally and curiously look over my 51 year old shoulder at the drumkit, amps and guitars in my living room.. :lol:

If people are going to judge you for being your authentic self and look down their nose at you for expressing your obvious talents they aren't really worth having around and listening to anyway.

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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by jonetsu »

lykwydchykyn wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 4:52 pm
I feel like there's a few social perceptions that contribute to this:

- That there's no value in creating original music if you aren't "Trying to make it" as a pro.
- That a person my age shouldn't be "Trying to make it", because stardom is for young people.
What is a pro ? Does it include in its definition all the unknown session musicians ?

What is stardom ? For instance are Ozric Tentacles stars ? Are the Flower Kings stars ?

Where are all the musicians in there who just go by being able with their work to buy a normal car, a normal house, have a normal living without being in the so-called 'stardom' ?

And then, what are those social perceptions and how come do they take so much place ?

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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by thumbknuckle »

I'm 46 and am making the best music I have ever made. I think trying to figure out how to be a 'star' would be pretty ridiculous, but I thought that when I was 21 too. I just worry about the music and put in the work and follow it wherever it leads. Sometimes I have gotten paid to do this but more often I have not.

I'd say a professional musician is someone who makes their living, or at least a substantial part of it, in music. So sure, people who, through a job making music, support a normal lifestyle living in normal houses and driving normal cars are professional musicians. Just like one can be a professional physicist without being Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

I think that's a pretty standard definition.

I did make a living playing bass for a while as a sideman in lots of different situations. Some of them were fun and interesting and situations that I could learn from. Some of them were kind of a drag. Right now I have cut things down to the point where I only play shows if the situation is in some way exceptional and rewarding. I make my living some other way.
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davephillips
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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by davephillips »

thumbknuckle wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 5:14 pm
I'd say a professional musician is someone who makes their living, or at least a substantial part of it, in music. So sure, people who, through a job making music, support a normal lifestyle living in normal houses and driving normal cars are professional musicians.
That would be me. I no longer perform, I have a nice teaching schedule that now includes online instruction which is taking off very well. The COVID crisis has forced remote learning on most of my students, so adding my sessions to their online coursework has been a breeze.

re: the OP's original topic: Elliott Carter continued to compose to the end of his life (in 2012). According to his Wikipedia biography he published
... more than 40 works between the ages of 90 and 100, and over 20 more after he turned 100 in 2008.
EC is one of my heroes and a great inspiration. However, regardless of how long we live, the quality of our efforts is what will last. The length of our lives is unknown to us (well, most of us), but it isn't how long we live that matters, it's how well we live during our allotted time. IOW, what matters is the depth and quality of our engagement with every moment we draw breath.

I feel very fortunate to be a musician. At 69 years of age I continue to strive to learn new methods, to try new software, and to achieve what I haven't achieved already. As Chaucer put it, "The life so short, the craft so long to learn." Ain't it the truth.

Best,

dp

lykwydchykyn
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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by lykwydchykyn »

Thanks for all your comments guys. Just to be clear, I DO intend to keep making music; I can hardly choose not to, when I get one in my head that demands to come out.

I guess I just find the reception a little disappointing, I guess because people (in my view) don't really value music as music (and really, I'm not much different when it comes to other people's music). I mean, one day I was sitting in my office listening to the same 30-year-old tunes for the umpteenth time and I thought, "How many of my friends who make music have stuff posted that I've never heard, and here I am putting another penny in the pocket of a billionaire" (metaphorically and literally). I felt convicted that I should spend more time listening to and promoting amateur music.

Sometimes I do that, but sometimes I want to hear those old songs for the umpteenth+1 time.

I don't know that I have a real point here, it's just kind of sad and frustrating the way that humans (including me) interact with music in our culture. I make music for me, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't appreciate a little recognition from those around me. But not being a sexy 20-something or a household name makes my music irrelevant to most people.

Or maybe it's just the quarantine stress talking. :-) Cheers, all!

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milo
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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by milo »

This discussion is really interesting to me. I think there are two kinds of people in the world: those who love music and those who don't. I really don't understand those non-music lovers, but I have come to accept the fact that they exist. Music just doesn't do anything for some people's brains. (Those poor souls!)

I never felt any kind of social stigma from being a musician or a creator. I remember strutting around the hallways in high school because I was the front man for a locally-successful garage band. It was the only time in my life that I have been "cool." Of course my goal was to be a rock star at that time, but I am sincerely glad that this didn't happen to my life. No, that is not sour grapes. I found a much better career to suit my skills and temperament. It is easy now for me to see that I would have either failed or destroyed myself in the music industry because of my social phobia. So instead I get a great job that I love, and I get to keep music as my awesome hobby.

I agree with the general observation that most normal people in my life don't care about my music. Most of my high school friends aren't playing or recording any more, although some are. Last Christmas I gave a copy of my home-recorded album to a bunch of my friends, neighbors, and family members, and the response was mostly a collective, "Meh." A few people said they really liked it. Most probably didn't even listen to the whole thing. So my music is for me, and I'm okay with that.

It's also for my kids. I want them to see an example of someone working persistently to create something, just for enjoyment.

I have had some of the same struggles as you describe with a blog that I write. It is an extremely low-traffic site, and that disappointed me for a long time. "What's the point of writing this if no one reads it?" But I still do it, not because I expect to get a big audience some day but because I like doing it. Also, again, for my kids.

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Re: Making music as you get older

Post by tavasti »

I started with music when I was older! Sure it was clear that I won't be any star ever, for me and for everybody else.

Compared to your position, everything has been huge learning challenge for me. Working alone with everything, need to learn all. Learn to play instrument, music theory, composition, recording, mixing. Yeah, and like that would not be enough, I have wanted to publish all my stuff as video. So learn to edit videos, shoot photos, shoot video, and actually ended up also programming something to audio visualization program. Sometimes progressing is annoying slow, but how could it be something else? With pretty limited time need to learn many skills, so it takes years to get anywhere.

Sure not creating not so great stuff, but learning to make things better in some side. One man production company progressing slowly. And one thing is rise of required level. In the begining, published stuff that was newbie stuff. Then pace of releases have gotten slower, because internal level of required quality is rising faster than skills. And sure, making one istrument live play with slideshow video is much faster to do than multi-instrument somewhat ok mixed song with semi-properly edited video. First takes max one hour, second, few months of spare time combined.
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