In order to keep on developing in a given area that one has pursued for many years, I found that embracing change is profoundly important. To resist it can be futile in certain cases. Take our bodies, they change. If our identity is totally wrapped up in what we physically can do, that can be very traumatic when it changes, especially if we were getting lots of recognition for it.
When this change starts to happen, or when we actually take a note of it and can't ignore it any longer, that is the time to embrace it. Not as a sign of defeat, or the "I think I'm loosing it" attitude, but as a chance for new insights and possibilities. The 'bump' in the road is not always a bad thing. It is all part of the journey.
Let's take this into the brass playing realms. At age 57, my approach, physically, mentally and emotionally are quite different to when I was 19. The body is different, as well as my mind and emotions. Therefore, if I try to approach certain aspects of my playing now as if I were 19, the results would not be where I would like them to be. In fact, it could be damaging, certainly on the physical level.
For example, when I was young, (which is not the same as youthful), I never thought of using different vowel sounds for certain registers of playing. There was no need at the time. I made the adjustments in another way in a certain method I developed. When this system broke down, I was put in a position to discover another way. Having been playing in this 'other' way for well over 30 years now, there have always been changes on a smaller scale that needed to be addressed and vowel sounds evolved. So did many other types of articulation. So did many types of airstreams and vibratos. This is all on the technical level. The musical level got richer and instead of just coming from my first response feelings, I built deeper relationships with the music as a living life. Music was just the form but it was a living, breathing being with multi-dimensional expressions and essences.
To someone who has not been on this journey it might sound complex. Put it is not to me. It is a living relationship that has it's fluctuations and patterns new and old. Just like person and other living things do.
Embrace change. It is part of life and music. In that embrace, what can magically appear is that special something, that actually does not change but appears in many forms. In this, we can always be young!