Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Are these very accomplished, young players that we occasionally encounter better at this because they learn faster than us older folks, or is it because the have more time to practice, or both?

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Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

It’s all about fear. Of failing, etc. The older you are, the more of it you have. Young kids don’t know (or care about) how hard it’s supposed to be - they just go and get the music.

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Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Because there are more recordings and more resources for learning than there were when you started, if you started before the internet. I started in 1983, before Fintan Vallely put out what was to be the first book on Irish flute. About the only recordings that featured much flute were those of the Bothy Band. I cut my teeth on Farewell to Erin and Kid on the Mountain. Great tunes for a beginner, huh?

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Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

It shouldn’t be frustrating. Out of interest, why is it frustrating to you that the younger folk are good/better?

More like it should inspire you to work at the music more via the most effective means.

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Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Get used to it. They will just get younger, as you get older.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

My volleyball team had a slogan: "Age and treachery beats youth and strength!"

Not to take anything away from the millennial generation, who I find to be much more mature than I was at the same age….

Maturity does benefit you in a lot of ways. With age you tend to be more serious, more dedicated, less distractible, more willing to put in the effort. Maybe you have to practice three times as much, but you are willing to do that.

Emotional depth improves with life experience.

Quality over reckless abandon… It’s not so important to play all the tunes as fast as possible.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Don’t be bothered by it. Playing the music that you love should not be some sort of competition.

I returned to the fiddle in retirement & so I know that time is limited and I must enjoy what I am able to do so late in the day. I think I am better now than I was when I was young, though - when I was at school, learning classical, I was scrambling to stay afloat in a schools orchestra & had so many other commitments. Then I took my fiddle up at the age of thirty for a few months, and it was excruciating for my hands and fingers - and I had to drop it again because of career commitments.

When I took the fiddle up four years ago, I had no pain at all because of all the typing I’ve done over the years. I found I could remember everything from my two previous fiddle encounters and I have added so much more, because I don’t think of my 90 minutes to two hours daily as ‘practice’ but as a joyful experience.

If I hear a young player who is really good, I don’t feel frustrated because I know I can’t ever get there, so I just try to see what I can learn from him or her.

Younger players have grown up with all the helps of the internet - they have energy and confidence, maybe sometimes because they don’t see the pitfalls - and they also often have better instruments in these more prosperous times.
Gordon Bennett, if you could have heard me scratching away 45 years ago on my Education Committee £5 violin! 🙂

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

I think it’s all a trick of perception. Yes, there are some exceptional youngsters about, but there are just as many (if not more) exceptional older players too. But there are also a lot of older players who aren’t exceptional, know they’re not exceptional, but still go out and play just for the sheer fun of it. That’s what is missing from the younger generation and makes it look as if they are all exceptional.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

I suspect the answers to your original questions are "yes" and "yes".

But then again, out of the 1000s of videos of amazing players you can see on YouTube or comhaltas, there’s only three or four that I actually enjoy listening to, for the inherent musical value as opposed to just gawping at their skill.

You can say much the same about jazz or classical music: there’s no shortage of highly technically accomplished players, but there’s a bit of a shortage of musicians who play interesting material with their own unique voice.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

"Get used to it. They will just get younger, as you get older."

Wait a minute! They are getting younger? Apparently I’ve been doing this wrong for years then 🙂

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

As long as they are better and more accomplished with a bit of humility,
otherwise it can have an iffy vibe …. we do need young folks to keep the music alive after all
and there are some incredible players, eh?

It’s also about what’s inside your own head. I thought I could never advance my playing,
but a slight change in attitude and concentrating on what I enjoy about the playing, rather than
what others do and think, and I have a blast most of the time.

And if you are uncomfortable or don’t enjoy a session for whatever reason, take a wee break,
go and play for yourself for a bit, and it’s surprising how much fun you have, and how much better
a player you might be, when you go back again … (or not)

I have fun trying to play along with other sessions on the interweb too, on my breaks 😉

Slainthe.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Allow me to channel the "Old Philosopher". It’s good to know the difference between youthful enthusiasm, exuberance, and seasoned talent. The Young Turks will always push to the front in every part of life, not just in music. Even when they’re reinventing the wheel, it’s new and exciting to them. They write books about this sort of thing. We old guys did the same thing. Seniors will be appreciated and marginalized at the same time. Our lives and our values (sorry for that way over-used word) become different from theirs. We can share the same space but not the same way of being. I imagine that millions of years ago some critter looked at those young upstarts who couldn’t/wouldn’t stay in the trees and started to walk upright. In my lifetime the 4 minute mile was "impossible", Now you have to do that to stay in the game. Then there’s the difference in the way young brains work. That’s almost a whole field of study. They do learn faster. We did too when we were their age. Also, as we age we have a different perspective about what "good" is.

When it comes to learning, and understanding (they are different) we all fall somewhere on the bell-shaped curve, and our position changes, left or right, as we age. It’s both nature and nurture. Personally I’m delighted to see young people ( to me anybody under about 40 is a "kid") grow into themselves. I’ve watched it over and over in many vocations and avocations. Imagine a world where each generation was exactly like the last, what a stagnant place that would be. I know their world is different and it excites me. I also know that I can’t fit into it, heck, I can’t even keep up with it. The best I can do is not fall into the trap of thinking one is somehow better. That’s a target that is too big and moves too fast. So I say with joy "hey, kid, play me a tune and I’ll try to keep up!"

Thanks for letting me ramble. It’s just my way of fending off youth-envy!

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Ross, I’m glad that by your definition, i just deked in under the wire and get to still be a young people! 🙂

As for the original question, I would say that one of the biggest factor is brain development. In youth,the mind, brain, and body are all open to development and learning and adopting new skills, a process which tapers off as we age. As adults, we have strongly entrenched habits, learned behaviours, and neural pathways (for example *not* playing fiddle!), and it takes much more effort to learn new skills than it did when we were young and we were thirsty for new learning. The good new is that we can learn new skills no matter how old we are, it just takes longer as we age. So yes, they learn faster! An they do have more time (although I would argue that adults can put in all the time they want, they just need to prioritize their "free time" - ie get up an hour earlier, go to bed an hour later, don’t watch tv, practice in your car over lunch etc). And maybe the internet and availability of resources helps some, but people have been making this lament much longer than the internet has been around. Besides, we all have the internet now, so we all have the same chance to access these plentiful resources, for which I am very grateful!

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Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

What Ross said, only much less eloquently.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

" In youth,the mind, brain, and body are all open to development and learning and adopting new skills, a process which tapers off as we age. "

I would agree up to a point but it’s not as bad as some people make it out to be. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Business at 53 and started learning fiddle at 58 so we oldsters can still learn a few new things.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

George Bernard Shaw says ‘Youth is wasted on the young’, or maybe it was Oscar Wilde. My wife and I are getting up there…60s+ We keep playing, and seem to be getting better.

There is substantive evidence that Pablo Casals made a remark about making progress in 1944 when he was 67 or 68 years old as indicated by the 1946 citation. There is also good evidence that he made a similar remark circa 1957 when he was 80 years old.

Practice, practice, practice…

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Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Funny. When I was younger, I thought it was great that the older players would play with me. Now I’m older, I think its great the younger players will play with me.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Fear of failure does tend to clog things up. I know it does for me. Also ltos of people try and play stuff really quicky which i don’t really get.
Don’t get discouraged!

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

When you look at the resources, the technology, and all the advances we’ve made in the last couple of decades, we’re definitely much more privileged than older generations of musicians. Technology used for musical convenience is a lot more efficient, and accessible. And we have more resources, and still have access to most of the older resources. So in a nutshell, everything is just easier now. I’m sure some young musicians still struggle, but we can’t deny that learning music has been made much easier. Pretty much no one has an excuse to be a failure, especially those aware of what’s available to help us progress.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

LOL 🙂 @ John Culhane

When I was younger, I thought it was great that the older players would play with me. Now I’m older, I think its great the younger players will play with me.

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Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Some famous player in his 90s was asked why he still practices. His response was, "Because I think I’m getting better."

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Marie… that was attributed to cellist Pablo Casals.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Who cares if you think some youngster is getting better than you? There will always be somebody better than you. The only thing that matters is that you are a better musician than you were yesterday.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating?

This ageism is *getting old*. It’s healthy to have an incentive to improve your playing. Improvement is (always)
a sustainable personal best; while in competition there is only one *best* {and then you’re out of the game}. Lance Armstrong learnt it the hard way.

I appreciate all musicians who are better than myself. Regardless of their age it’s the better players who
catch my attention, let me hear music played well, expose me to more variations, help me consider my own learning goals and the good ones’ are always encouraging.

I don’t begrudge young(er) musicians. How can I after hearing a twenty-something piper who has listened endlessly to Patsy Touhey, Leo Rowsome & Séamus Ennis? Those guys aren’t exactly young anymore.

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Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

There is always someone better out there, at all ages. If you are not having fun and enjoying the music and the process then who cares about the relative skills of others regardless of their age? Sort of a strange question really. I myself have learned that sometimes it is just as fun to try and hang on when the going gets "rough", on my newer instruments. Or on a more challenging one on my primary. It’s the personal challenge and improvement that make the pursuit worthwhile. As they say, it’s the journey not the destination.

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I don’t mind any adult playing better than me. But child prodigies are the most frustrating for me. Hell, it took me longer to learn Whiskey Before Breakfast than this little girl is old! (It’s enough to make you want to take your instrument outside and break it against a tree!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhOqUboShqk

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Lots of inspiring stuff here! Sometimes when the musi doesn’t come out right or mistakes happen and you’re not satisfied, it can really suck, but then there are times when you really jsut fly on a tune and things click. That’s why I love it, that, and people taking an honest nejoyment in the music.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

Let’s not equate "better" with "faster". Sure, being able to play a tune fast with all the right notes is a technical achievement, but doesn’t always make for the best music. The tune can get lost in this "hell for leather" playing which seems favoured by some, and often leaves me cold. Phrasing, sensitivity and just feeling the music count for more IMHO.

Re: Young players so much better than me. Frustrating!

I remember when Paddy O’Brien & Joe Cooley first hit the music scene in NY just about everyone commented on how slowly they played. They weren’t in the ‘hammers of hell’ bag. As a rule, the faster you play the less feeling you can put into a tune. Plus all the articulation and phrasing goes to hell too. Play the tune the way you can put the most feeling & suffer the criticism of s l o w n e s t.