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Age, music and performance

by on November 26, 2012

Age, music and performance? Yes, we’re talking about the Rolling Stones who last night marked 50 years with a concert at the O2. And to some critical acclaim (for example, here in The Guardian though just as much coverage on the cost of the tickets as on the quality of the music and performance…).

What with the Jubilee and Olympic concerts, it’s been an interesting year for comparing how various seasoned performers have aged in terms of their voices.

5 years ago I was teaching a course on Lifespan Psychology at Birkbeck. In one class I asked the students to look at how older people were represented in a selection of weekend newspapers and colour supplements. Predictably, they noticed a general absence of (positive) depictions and the use of older people to advertise products specifically targeted at the (vulnerable) old. What none of them commented on was a lavishly illustrated feature on the Rolling Stones, then celebrating 45 years and all aged in their 60s. When I queried this, they said, ‘oh, they’re not old, they’re rock stars’.

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