Remembering Musical Dreams in Middle Age
An inexplicable love for the cello resided in a remote corner of Cassandra Gordon’s head. One day, when she was attending a music lesson by one of her granddaughters, in her early childhood, in Brookline, Massachusetts, Cassandra noticed an ad in the school hall offering music lessons for adults. She decided to take action.
Mrs Gordon approached the clerk and she gave him a list of four teachers. She chose a name from the list, rented a cello and started taking lessons. This was 11 years ago. Currently, Mrs. Gordon, a 73-year-old travel writer and tour guide, still applies herself to the cello, studying 45 minutes a day, and this, despite the morning stiffness of her fingers, difficulties in memorizing notes, and with weaknesses in recognizing the subtlety of the rhythm. Carrying with a bulky instrument is also not that easy.
And it reached a remarkable level!
“Believe it or not, but I played with an orchestra,” said Mrs. Gordon, who lives in the south of Boston. “I played in a training quartet at the New England Conservatory and I attend a summer school every year. To say that I am intoxicated by this experience is the least I feel ”
Mrs. Gordon is a member of that tough group of amateur musicians, who choose an instrument in an earlier stage of life, defying the saying “Old donkey doesn’t learn languages”. While many return to the instrument after studying it as a child, wanting to play, but already free from an obligation imposed by their parents, another face the challenge in the cold. Without young brains, with their abundant neurons firing, and with a physique worn out by years of life, techniques are learned more slowly. The physical repetition of the exercise no longer gives the same performance.
But for those who endure, the rewards can be huge. Musicians in adulthood can find completely new and different social networks, a purpose and content in middle age and a channel for their previously nonexistent creativity. The feeling of personal fulfillment can be extremely powerful.
“It has been a wonderful trip,” says Cassandra. “I hope to continue playing later in life, as often as I can.” She adds, “I only wish I had started 30 years earlier.”
She also said that her children and granddaughter, now 12, are her biggest fans.