I went with a friend last week to see the movie Quartet with a friend. The movie was quite good, and I recommend it. Don’t worry, I’m not going to give any spoilers away in this post. The setting of the movie is a retirement home which caters specifically to musicians, and the movie centers around the retirement of a notable opera singer (played by the incomparable Maggie Smith) to this home. The plot features the typical struggle of old age, and the acceptance that one can no longer do what one could at a younger age. This is especially true of singers.

A person’s vocal sounds is made by the use of muscles and tissue in the throat (vocal folds) which loosen up with age and become less dependable and less able to sing “on pitch.” A pianist, a violinist, or a trumpet player might lose some of their dexterity, but they are still capable of making music without driving people from the room. For many singers, who have spent countless years devoted to their craft, this can be a painful realization.

However, as in the movie, all is not completely lost. Often times, it is when one seems to be at the end that a new beginning is discovered. Take the principal actress in this movie – Maggie Smith. Her career is perhaps stronger and more well regarded now than it has ever been. The same could be said for Betty White. While some of their colleagues are slowing down, they are speeding up! A friend and respected colleague of mine is now in an assisted living facility. He is no longer making music, but instead has fallen in love with painting. It’s his new artistic passion. I find myself wondering what hobbies might be out there that I’d love but just have yet to discover.