Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tickling the Ivories at Age 96


Frank Sinatra isn't the only one who did it his way. Irving Fields may not be as famous as old blue eyes, but he is one of the oldest entertainers still performing---making audiences laugh, cry, enjoy and remember. Friends of ours recently heard him play in New York City and tipped us off to this energized and energizing man. Irving is 96 years young and still goes to work, playing the piano at clubs and hotels around the city. He started playing piano when he was 8 years old and has never stopped. He has tickled the 88's at places like Carnegie Hall, the Taj Mahal, the London Palladium and the old Copa Cabana.

We think Irving is a great life teacher, with lessons for all of us. Irving learned that doing the same thing, over and over, can lead to staleness, for himself and his audiences. So he often changed his repetoire, rewiring his music, to attract younger audiences and to keep older audiences coming back to enjoy new sounds and beats. In fact he is credited with popularizing the Latin beat in the 1940's and creating other themes with albums such as Bagels and Bongos, Pizzas and Bongos, and Bikinis and Bongos. His style changes not only challenged his thinking and skills but it kept him from falling into a comfort zone. And also gave his audiences new experiences and the opportunity for greater enjoyment!

Is he a role model for musicians? You bet. Is he a role model for all of us? We think so! In our work with pre and post retirees, we have met many people who want to continue going strong into the future; we believe that Irving Fields shows the power and payoffs of rewiring oneself. He sets a good example of what to do right.

Fields demonstrates that we all need to change with the times if we want to keep our audiences, clients, customers, friends even our partners or spouses. Learning new music has become part of his daily routine. Learning new things should be a daily routine for all of us. But is it? What was the last new thing you tried? Are you doing "the same old, same old" and wondering why you aren't getting satisfaction, or the new client,the new gig or even the new friend? People of all ages need to constantly hit their own refresh button.

In the work we do, we especially believe that growing older doesn't mean growing stale, or even worse, becoming bored or boring or invisible. So keep playing in your chosen area...and like Irving, we hope you will continue to find life's meaning and purpose in whatever you do. Sometimes your life will be loud, sometimes soft, but it will be sustaining regardless of your age.

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