There’s an important difference when you come back to music in midlife compared to when you were in school. The point now is to do it for fun. At this point in our lives, it should not be a competition.
The point was underlined this weekend as I was listening to the Sphinx Finals concert at Orchestra Hall in Detroit. Of course, Sphinx is a competition, with the goal of drawing attention to the young talents in our midst and to expose them to a larger audience. Along the way, the contestants get extra coaching, teaching, and a chance at scholarships to continue their musical education.
Competition and music seem inseparable when you are young. Ask anyone what they played in school, and after they name their instrument, they’ll usually tell you which “chair” they were sitting in — usually long before they tell you want music they played! “I was second clarinet” or “I was principal flute” are badges of honor in this competitive world.
As a person who is competitive by nature, I would have felt threatened by the young talents at Sphinx and despaired of ever obtaining their level of achievement. Despair turns to disillusionment turns to loss of interest – which is probably why many of us left our instruments in the closet for so long.
As my husband Chuck joins me in developing this blog, one of my goals is to uncover places where amateurs can play without the stress of auditioning, where the doors are welcome to all who just want to have fun and improve their skills. We are advocates for people who love to play music — “amateurs” in the original sense of the word.
Join us on the journey. Share your comments, or drop us an e-mail at MidlifeMusicans@gmail.com.