Author Topic: August, 2016: Starting Over  (Read 2197 times)

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Ron

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August, 2016: Starting Over
« on: August 02, 2016, 08:22:21 PM »
Inspired by a newly-returned member about to start college, let me ask: if you were able to start over, what would you do differently?
Ron
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Michel.R.E

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2016, 09:02:05 PM »
work harder.
not take talent for granted.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

gogreen

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2016, 05:32:37 AM »
I would:
* Take college seriously.
* Take all the opportunities in college that were afforded to me.
* Practice the piano much more.
* Not be such a jackass in college.
* Not take my parents for granted.
* Enroll in music composition classes.
* Spend my summers more wisely.
* Take administration courses in graduate school.

I'm sure there are more, but these items are the crux of it.

Michel.R.E

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2016, 05:38:33 AM »
I'll add also:

not try to skate by on talent/natural ability alone.

look for the HARDEST projects instead of the easiest (you learn far more from undertaking difficult projects with a high failure rate... and school is the time to be doing that)

when asked for 5 counterpoint realizations, always write 20.

start counterpoint and harmony MUCH earlier in life.

and practice your goddamned piano more seriously (lord knows if there was a matter on which I skated by on pure talent it was that)
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

Ron

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2016, 05:44:57 AM »
A very moving book I read on this topic is Grimwood's "Replay." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replay_(Grimwood_novel)

I liked it so much I read it twice. It is the story of a man who keeps living his life over and over with full memories of the previous cycle. The point is, he never gets it "right"--whatever that means. In other words, your life story is your life story. For example, I am the talented composer who never went far in formal studies on the subject and so never advanced as he should have, all things being equal.

A movie that I watch whenever I get a chance is John Frankenheimer's "Seconds," staring Rock Hudson in an absolutely brilliant performance. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060955/ . In it a man gets a chance to relive his life, following his youthful dreams of becoming an artist. It doesn't work because, despite the man's passion he is, in fact, an elderly accountant. (Before you poo-poo Rock Hudson, you can see the old man lurking behind the youthful face, confused and bewildered by the world he has been thrust into. The horrific ending as Hudson's character screams in panic was not acting. Frankenheimer deliberately played on one of Hudson's phobias to get a visceral response. Hudson said later that movie was his proudest accomplishment.)
« Last Edit: August 03, 2016, 06:34:26 AM by Ron »
Ron
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mjf1947

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2016, 08:08:22 AM »
This is truly an interesting question.  One we all have most probably played in our minds at times in our lives.  Now one can look at it pragmatically ... stating obvious choices ... I should have studied this or that ... or chose another career or worked more diligently.  However, the emotionally, social, cultural, and personality presets are very much a part of this multiple-regression equation.

If one does have such a chance to change his/her personal history ... then why must ask ... if one has sufficient insight into themselves to avoid repeating those choices.  Why did we make those choices to begin with ..... what are the inner drives, motivations, fears, fantasies which led us on this path.

And finally can we change our basic personalities ... those genetic givens: our tolerance for risk, intimacy, and intellectual potential?  Or for that matter the familial, cultural, and social class of our youth?

Again a great exercise .... yet do we all possess the insight to really know ourselves and thus change the future?  Maybe to some extent .. or is it just an illusion?

Mark




Ron

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2016, 08:40:53 AM »
I think "illusion" is the right word. When we look back on the past, we see patterns and decision points that lead us to where we are now. But, in reality, those patterns and decision points did not exist until we created them. Take the history of the universe, as a small example. We can create an amazingly long complex chain of cause-and-effect relationships beginning at the moment of the Big Bang and ending Now. But, you cannot reverse that chain--and there is absolutely no way to predict at Big Bang + 0.0001 seconds that I would be sitting here now typing this. In other words, the future is not contained in the present--it is continually being created.

So, if one had studied harder or made a better decision at some point, then the present that we now occupy would not exist. In  Grimwood's "Replay" at each iteration of the protagonist's life, the world as we know it was slightly different because his actions, based on his previous knowledge, were different than during the previous trips. For example, in one cycle he became immensely wealthy by betting on the outcomes of sports events when he already knew the outcome and by investing early in innovators that he knew were going to make it big time. That quickly wore pretty thin. He wound up wandering through each lifetime trying to figure out what it was all about, but, the basic premise is: it does not matter, ultimately, what path you choose because, as Shakespeare so eloquently put it, "All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts."
Ron
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saltamontes

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2016, 08:44:30 PM »
My biggest regret is for twenty years I was the embodiment of the jazz club musician image... booze, women, and hedonistic self indulgence instead of focusing on being the best player I could be.  It took becoming a scientist for me to understand the word "discipline."  For 14 years, I lead a jazz group with some truly talented sidemen and vocalists, all of which I failed to fully utilize.  I worked with a cat, a horn player, who could read a fly walking across blank manuscript paper.  And a keyboardist whose time was so precise he could go outside with some Hendrix-ish explosive, powerful improv and come back in as if it were part of the original composition.  One vocalist, primarily a blues singer, could sing in Portuguese, French, Spanish, and English.  She was outstanding on the new Brazilian tunes of that time.  However, because of my proclivity for living the "life", I failed all of them as well as myself.  All that being said, it really was one hell of a 20 year, non stop party.  So, regrets....  I have a few.

Saltamontes
Hold gently the hearts of those you love. For once they are gone, you will shed a thousand tears for each one you caused and the memory of each callous moment will be your companion.   Saltamontes

Ron

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2016, 06:48:33 AM »
In my case, some have questioned why I would have turned down a full scholarship to attend Upper Canada College when I was, essentially, a homeless teenager, and then later turn down a scholarship opportunity to attend the prestigious Royal Conservatory of Music attached to the University of Toronto when I was 19. I have never regretted either.

As for Upper Canada College, I would have been a pauper among the richest and most privileged young men in the country. I knew I would be out of place, probably ridiculed. I already knew one pampered teen who used to taunt me because of my professed love of classical music, but ignorance of some of the things he took for granted. (For example, he'd ask me how many symphonies Haydn wrote and if I stumbled around, not knowing the answer immediately, he'd sneer.) Biographical note: I never knowingly heard a note of "classical" music until I was 12 and attended a performance of Tchaikovsky's "Peter and the Wolf."

A similar restraint held me back from pursuing an offer made to me by the dean of the Conservatory. Also, I had no keyboarding skills and my violin playing was mediocre, to put it kindly. It might be hard for some to realize, but, though I was taught how to read music in elementary school and can read it fluently, until computers came along I had no way of realizing any of the music that bubbled in my head. What point would it have been to fill pages of staff paper with notes when no one was ever going to perform them and I could not hear it except in my head?

So, regrets would be along the line of: I was not born into a musical family where learning was encouraged and respected. And there is not much can do about that.
Ron
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gogreen

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2016, 07:56:57 AM »
Even though there is much I would do differently if I were beginning again 50 years ago, at age 18, I believe that everything that has transpired in my life and the music, career, and personal choices I've made, were meant to be, and that I am still on the "correct" path.

mjf1947

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2016, 03:11:36 PM »
Even though there is much I would do differently if I were beginning again 50 years ago, at age 18, I believe that everything that has transpired in my life and the music, career, and personal choices I've made, were meant to be, and that I am still on the "correct" path.

You are a very fortunate man~!

Mark

gogreen

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2016, 07:42:44 PM »
Quote
You are a very fortunate man~!
Don't get wrong, Mark. I still have my share of deep, deep regrets.

tbmartin

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2016, 01:38:49 PM »
Terence Martin

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Goal: Improve quantity and quality of concert band compositions.
Play: Saxophones (all, but tenor primary), Bass Clarinet, Piano (poorly)

perpetuo studens

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Re: August, 2016: Starting Over
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2016, 04:03:52 PM »
This has to be the most thought provoking topic-of-the-month I've seen. I can relate to many of the answers people have given - they've caused me to spend quite a bit of time reflecting and applying them to my own recollections, especially those comments that had to do with working harder and being more disciplined.

Like Art, I'm pretty happy about how things have ended up, even if the road to get this far was a little rocky at times, so I' not sure I'd really want to change anything if I could go back and do it all again, despite having my own regrets and some carefully nursed slights that I can't quite seem to put fully behind me.

So I think that what I would do differently would be to concentrate less on "being" and more on "doing". I spent far too much of my life, especially in my youth focused on what and who I would or should be.

One of the great gifts of retirement is that what one is or was to be has mostly passed - I am now pretty much what and and who I am going to be. But I realize that this makes it much easier to concentrate my efforts on what I want to do, and not on any outcome thereof. I don't want to "be a composer" (whatever that might be - I just know I'm not one, certainly due to inadequate training and experience, if not lack of ability) for example. I just want to write music, and write the best music that I can.

And perhaps if I'd been more directed towards making the best music that I could instead of being the best musician I could be I might have worked harder and been more disciplined, and been less concerned with how others thought of me, and what or who they thought I was.

Thanks to all for your thoughtful comments, and to Ron for suggesting this topic.

Jamie
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

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