Thursday, September 25, 2014

Never Too Old

That's one of the themes of a wonderful book by former NY Times reporter and Columbia Journalism professor, Ari Goldman. In The Late Starters Orchestra Goldman tells his own story of re-learning to play the cello in order to solo at his 60th birthday party. Through the process he discovers many other adult learners in the music field with orchestras and groups dedicated to their needs.

Needless to say I resonate with Goldman's theme and story. While I have never completely quit playing my trumpet since I started way back in 1961, there have been many times when I was not playing regularly. After college it kind of got put away except for the occasional opportunity at Christmas and Easter. When at around age 36 I moved to a town that had a community band- and my good friend was the director- I pulled it out and started to play during the summers. There were times when I was in grad school that I couldn't manage the summers, but for most of the 15 years in Wisconsin I did play on and off. I managed to maintain at least some semblance of ability, and for my birthday one year attended a jazz camp at a local university.

The next move found a community where there was a year-round community band, but due to scheduling conflicts I didn't manage to play as regularly as I would have liked. I did, however, once in a while practice more often. Again the ability remained stifled, but present.

I have always loved playing trumpet. (I actually love music. Period. It is such a joy to be able to make music!) We made our most recent move about 7 years ago and all of a sudden I was in a time and place where I have had both time, resources, and opportunities to push back into the music world. In these years I have been able to play in four different, year-round groups: two concert bands, a brass quintet, and a jazz big band. I have also played more solos and duets in church, played the National Anthem with 100 other musicians at Twins games and played in the pit for Les Mis at our local Civic Theater. I have even taken lessons for the first time in 45 years.

After seven years I am now beginning to be able to truly call myself a "musician." Obviously as Goldman's book relates, my story is not uncommon. There are many adults who have played- or have always wanted to play music- but never had the chance to take it to a next level. I am grateful that I have been fortunate enough to do that- and to keep on doing it. What a joy!

What's next, you might ask? Well, not to promise something I won't be able to deliver, I have to admit there is another musical goal- get out the guitar and really spend the time making progress on that. I was never good at the guitar like I was at trumpet, but, hey, why should that stop me.

Will keep you posted.

Here is a video of the Polished Brass Quintet of Rochester, MN, at our recital last year.

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