One of the most overused expressions of all time is ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, and speaking as an elder schnauzer myself I can’t deny that there is a kibble of truth contained somewhere in there. Still, I have been known to occasionally learn a new thing or two if given a chance.
A good example might be my growing appreciation of music. I’ve always loved music – especially as a listener, because my playing skills were minimal – but my enjoyment of it was more limited all those years than I realized. It wasn’t until I found myself in an early semi-retirement a few years ago and began to spend more time with music, that I discovered that I was woefully uninformed.
For one thing, I realized that there were countless songs that I’d heard so many times that they were as familiar to me as a close friend’s voice, but because my normal way of listening to music was as background for reading or driving, I often had no idea of the name of the piece or the artist. And even if I knew the musician and the names of some of his best-known tunes, I couldn’t always match them up. For example, I was a big Jimmy Dorsey fan but even though I knew I was listening to Jimmy, was that “Contrasts” or “Sophisticated Swing” I just heard?
I’m happy to report that I’ve made some progress in my understanding of that kind of music, but meanwhile I discovered another problem. I realized that I also had a lot of gaps in my knowledge of popular music, especially what came along after I was well into adulthood. At that time in my life I wasn’t really interested in pop music, was pretty sure that I didn’t get it, and I seldom listened to it. You could have put what I knew about it in a thimble and still have room for your finger.
But once I was able to dig deeper into pop music, the first thing I discovered was that I must have been listening more closely than I’d thought all those years, because some of those pieces now sounded very familiar to me — and I liked them. However, I also learned that I’d sometimes missed the boat back in those days when it came to details. For example, I was surprised to discover that many of the songs I’d thought were just catchy little ditties were actually thinly-disguised anti-establishment rants. Duh.
In any case, now that I’m deeply into Music Appreciation 2.0, I’d like to be able to report that I’m fully knowledgeable in every aspect of music — but I can’t. There’s so much still to learn that I doubt that I’ll ever even approach that state. I guess that would be Music Appreciation 3.0.