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How old is too old?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by GeorgeR, Dec 15, 2000.

  1. GeorgeR


    Nov 5, 2000
    How old is too old?
    The last time I got paid for playing music in public was over 15 years ago, and since then, I've married, have a wife and son to support and work as a professional in the electronics field.
    Currently, after many years of working for $12/hr jobs in the electronics field, I am now able to support my family with about $600/wk (net) and sometimes find it difficult to make ends meet, due to high transportation and housing costs, as well as sundries, medicines for baby and family, etc...
    I don't live any extravagant lifestyle; my workshoes are 3 years old and have holes in them, my clothing consists of plad workshirts and jeans, and the majority of my son's clothes, shoes and toys are bought from Value Village and Goodwill.
    My wife is a stay at home mom, which is good because with her very limited education (literacy approx. 4th grade level) and severely limited communication skills (due to congenital and quite profound deafness), any employment she has ever held in the past could not even begin to cover the costs of daycare, in this area of the country.
    But I observe I sorely miss playing my music, though I still try to maintain some minimal skill level, on my 5 string Bass, through home use.
    I would like to get back into playing, back into doing what I love, more or less full time, as opposed to being a faceless cog in a giant machine. But I cannot ignore the financial support my family needs, in this area of Toronto, where living costs are relatively high.
    Has anyone any advice?
    Where would I start?
  2. dead is to old
    granted maybe you won't join the next sensation, but that doesn't mean you can't have some fun with it. do you have any friends that play? any open mike nights in the area you can sit in on?
  3. Finding a full time playing situation is very difficult. I'm retired from my day gig but I have found out there are a lot of jobs for older musicians. Older people are starved for entertainment and don't find it in modern music. So find some other players' (ask everywhere) and look for gigs at clubs where older people hang out. Like the Elks club country clubs, and resorts and old age homes. Don't quit your day job just play on weekends. I also was an electronic tech. and engineering aid, for a musical instrument company. There also are some festivel jobs like Bluegrass and Dixieland jazz that happen all summer if you can make short trips on weekends.

    ...........Good luck.......
  4. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    bassdude is right - don't quit your day job, if that's what you're hinting at. The odds of being able to support yourself as a full-time musician aren't very good (if it were easy, we'd ALL be doing it). And even if you did find a steady, well-paying gig, it would mean travel, and time away from your family.

    One of the things that has been brought up here in the past is that often, keeping the day job and playing on the side is actually more satisfying than using your music to support yourself. You can pick who you play with, what you play and how you play it. You're not a slave to crappy wedding gigs or bar mitzvahs. Your music remains fun, instead of a chore.

    What worked for me is playing in church. I move around a lot and work rotating shifts, so a steady gig is pretty hard for me to commit to (oh yeah, and I suck). But there's always a church wherever I go, and they're always desperate for musicians. And I get to play in front of an audience several times a week, depending on my schedule. No one is going to throw their panties at you (depending on the denomination, of course;)), but it's a great way to get back up in front of people. And it's likely you'll meet some other folks in the same situation that you can hook up with on the side.

    And you're NEVER too old. So what if I die at 80 with "only" 45 years of experience playing the bass? I don't think anyone will be counting.
  5. GeorgeR


    Nov 5, 2000
    It would be SO COOL if I could find a job where I could combine both my electronics and my music, with something involving creativity as well as working with others! That‘s all I really want, the perfect job, fixing amps, guitars, whatever comes in, and where I play the music I like, not stuff I HAVE to play.
    Unfortunately I know of nobody else, personally, who is remotely interested in music playing, only downloading and listening to MP3s. It really sucks, being a musician and having no one to make or share music with, even for the fun of it! Like solitary confinement, in a public place.
    I‘ve asked and posted stuff in the lunch room at work, but nobody cares, and none of my other friends care for anything other than computers or MP3s.
  6. GeorgeR


    Nov 5, 2000
    I thought of playing at a church, but thing is, Christian churches have problems with letting people of different faiths play music in their church (I‘m a Muslim), and there are no music services in Mosques.
    I‘m not too old (under 40) and like alot of stuff from the 80s, just not heavy metal kind of rock.
    I don‘t know what is in the area here, except strip bars and automotive repair shops; even the one music store has shut down, due to lack of business, so when I hoped to put an ad in the music store here, these hopes were kinda squashed. That‘s why I was hoping to get some response by posting here.
  7. hey george are there any news papers up there that have gig listings? i know this seems ovious but i have seen casual gig adds in Massachusetts, just wondering if you have a paper up there that would list them. how about a music store is there any stores in your area that you could put an add up? again good luck
  8. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    I'm kind of in the same boat as you, since I left my music career to get a "normal" life. I hadn't played in about 10 years, and moved to another state ahead of my family to get situated. I brought out the bass to get back into it a little. What I have done is find the local jam nights, and make a point of going at least once a week. There's no rehearsal, no commitment, and you always get to play. I've also met a couple people, and picked up the odd fill-in gig. I don't know about your area, but by me, there have been times when I'm the youngest guy up there, and I'm in my mid'40s!
    Probably not what you want to hear, but starting a music career after years of not being in the business is probably the biggest risk you could take. Not only will you need stellar chops, but you don't have any connections, I assume. Full-time work may come in a band that caters to your generation - blues, oldies ('50s? '60s? '70s?...), but you'll need to find a long-established band to work in. For myself, I'm just happy to play again, and picking up the odd gig is all I need anymore. I suggest starting slow, and seeing what happens.
  9. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hey george, one thing to think about, since you have electronics experience, is look into instrument electronics, like pickup installation. that might be a good way to combine the two - teach yourself about instrument electronics and then go to a music store and see if they would be interested in taking you on part time or something - that would at least get you back into an environment around other musicians, and maybe join some bands.
  10. GeorgeR


    Nov 5, 2000
    It‘s certainly good to hear the expierences of others, in this area!
    I‘m gonna continue to try and be patient and try posting on a few on-line bulletin boards, to see what the interest is, in the Brampton area for amateur musicians.
    Family and work responsibilities would prevent me from devoting much time to this, except on the weekends, and even this, because I miss my son so much during the week, probably only one night a week would be appropriate.
    As far as trying to do some time at a music store, it would be very cool to work in their service department, and it isn‘t much of a issue regarding expierence, since I‘ve been messing with musical instruments since my teens, doing repairs to guitars and amps for others, this plus being head service engineer for a stage and studio lighting company, plus years of manufacturing and maintenance expierence, but these days, with work and stuff, free time is very scarce, hence my desire to change gears and attempts to spend more of my working day with music. That $600 per week my family needs to live on, it don‘t come cheap!
  11. SlapDaddy


    Mar 28, 2000
    GeorgeR, There are plenty of "faceless cogs" playing bass in gigs everywhere. You are right to think of your son when you contemplate this stuff, as he will need your "face" more and more. Don't get me wrong, I play as often as I can, but, first things first.........
  12. Hey george im from Toronto (etobicoke), and I am surprised because our city is one of the largest in the world, and has a terrible music scene, both for bands and amateur musicians. I have heard of open mike nights in the city, but am not sure where they are. I play bass also, and jam with a buddy of mine on guitar, you can always jam with us if you like (it might be a bit far from brampton and were 20, but we love jammin with new people), so if u get really desperate or just want to jam then just give me a shout on talkbass.
  13. APouncer


    Nov 3, 2000
    Lancashire, UK
    George - are you taking the mickey? Having a laugh? Being ironic? Sorry, but in UK we would be convinced you were! I think you are! Anyway, if not, stop whinging and start playing!
    gkella likes this.
  14. I'm 53 years old, gave up playing at 23, took it up again at 39. I play 2 and 3 gigs a week, and by day I work in a music instrument store. I am very happy with my situation, but it was'nt always like this. You need to advertise yourself on guitar store notice boards, in your local paper, go to local jam nights and sit in, and generally frequent the "scene" that you're into in order to become known. This is called networking. Bassists are in short supply the world over, so you will soon pick something up. Sure, you will have to pick your way through wankers, timewasters and wannabes, but you soon develop a "feel" for a good situation. Sure, this sounds like it's gonna take some time out of your family life, well, that's the way it is, do you want it or not? I went through life in jobs I hated, I got my present one, which is very enjoyable, by hanging around music stores and getting to know the managers, letting them know I was a knowledgable and pleasant sort of guy, and what my strengths were, without actually asking for a job outright. Jobs in music stores never get advertised, they get filled by word of mouth. Eventually, I got asked if I was interested in filling a vacancy. It took a couple of years of groundwork, but was worth it in the long run. I am now the manager! This is also "networking". Age is no barrier, I know an upright bassist who is 78, and he still does 3 or 4 gigs a week! I took up the upright bass myself at age 41. I'm never gonna be a rock star on MTV, but do I care? Go for it, man!!
  15. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Dead is too old.
    Assume from yer post you're living and therefor not too old to change.
  16. GeorgeR


    Nov 5, 2000
    I check the local papers like the Toronto Star and the Sun, but have found nothing regarding musicians, except pianos and amps for sale/repair. The Brampton Guardian has nothing much on this either, except very occasionally.
    One thing I didn‘t know was there were places on-line where musicians could put up free ads, and see what others are looking for as well! What a very neat idea!
    I stay away from most places on the Internet which promise things because they all want money without any guarantee of performance or delivery (I‘m NOT a fan of e-commerce, BTW; the internet should continue to be as free as possible, for all people and the free exchange of ideas, not for business‘ purposes) but the one I found (http://www.torontomusician.com/) can be used for free, and best of all, I‘ve had a couple of responses from other musicians as well, who are in similar straits as my own, and wish similar opportunities while remaining committed to their day jobs, possibly with opportunity to perform publicly once in a while!
    Didn‘t find any such thing pertaining to Brampton (since I really don‘t like to drive in Toronto, lugging my bass, amphead and speaker on public transit would not be a good idea, and would prefer to stay in Brampton) but those who have responded so far are not far from me at all!
    Looking very very hopeful in other words.
    BTW, for the fellow from the UK who thinks inquires of these kind are not genuine, who considers my inquires to be ‘whining‘, please carefully consider just how many musicians or musically-inclined people are stuck in mind, life-and-time-sucking full-time jobs, salaried jobs whose demands 12 or more hours per day, excluding commuting time, plus the daily drudge of bringing paperwork home to be completed, because they have families to support, so become out of touch with the local music scene for years at a time.
    Perhaps the work enviorment practiced in British companies is far better, perhaps far more humane, permitting more employee free time without financial punishment, but in North America this may perhaps be the exception, not the rule.

  17. freddylang


    Dec 24, 2000
    Columbus, OH.
    I've been playing the bass by ear for two years. I can play the thing I just don't have any formal training but want to start taking lessons. I can read music but not well. I pretty much just know the basics. I feel like as far as my hands go I can't get any faster but sometimes I get sloppy. I play about 5-12 hours per week but am reaching a point where I'm not really improving. I think I need instruction but where do I start? Back at square one or somewhere in the middle? Will a good teacher know where I need to be or do I know where I want to get to first? Has anyone ever been in this position? Also, I really never sat and tried to play other bands baselines. I've pretty much played and recorded my own stuff from the beginning. Should I try to play more advanced bassists' stuff to try to get over the hump? Sorry about the length!
  18. Two things you absolutely must do (IMO) to progress, are 1; learn some lines of songs you like by repeating a section of tape or CD over and over until you can find the notes, and 2; find some other musos to jam with. These two actions will cause you to learn the neck of your bass, learn the structure of songs, learn the function of bass, learn to play as part of a team, learn good timekeeping, get you a good repetoire of songs together to make you a desirable product, ie, get gigs. Other things to do, not quite as essential, but still important, are find a good teacher, practice with a metronome, learn some basic setup of your bass, have a good electronic tuner, learn to read notation, learn to play some jazz,(even if you dont like jazz- it's the best for learning theory and improvisation), and listen to a wide variety of musical styles, even if you only want to play one particular style.

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