Yesterdays blog got me to thinking about why we stagnate as artists and what it takes to remain vital. If Elton John or Billy Joel can write amazing songs in the 80's why do they suddenly lose their touch years later? Wealth can make you lazy and the ambition to reach a certain level dissolves once you reach it, but why then do we not get just a great song every few years, why does it feel like there is a sell by date on a lot of artists?
Maybe one answer is the lack of continuing education. A friend and I were talking a little while back and he told me he was shocked to learn from a dancer that it's status quo for dancers to be in class most of their lives no matter where their career is. This dancer told him that they do it because there is always more to learn and because dance is so physical class keeps one from losing their flex and stretch.
That makes so much sense. So, why don't we directors and writers and actors stay in class for our whole careers? It's a taboo isn't it? You can teach at some point but unless you're preparing for a role, class shouldn't be a regular thing, right?
I want to introduce the idea that "class" should not only mean arts classes. What about other courses that make you a deeper soul, that teach you to think in a different way which will ultimately impact the execution of your art? Technique can be worked on for a long time, but surely the thing that makes you better is your understanding of humanity. You can certainly learn a lot about that from doing scenes by great writers, but have you considered you can learn it from volunteering, or going back to class for philosophy or criminal justice? The process of hacking through the papers and the essays and the stuff of civilians to better your understanding of who you are without the congestion of performing might be more beneficial that you think. Plus it's great fodder for when you get on Leno.
How many things do we skip because we don't want to "start a class and have to quit when a job comes along" and find later we really never have to quit because a job didn't get in the way?
Don't fear getting better any way you can. Fear losing days that you can't get back waiting for something to happen while other artists are in class somewhere using their time to keeping themselves flexed and stretched.