Lessons in Music, and Life

With all due respect Len King, I never knew you were this cool!  You see, my high school band director (late 1970s) directs the Arizona Swing Kings Jazz Orchestra, and is still inspiring musicians to perform at the top of their game.   He is also the founder of the Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, back in the day.

The AZ Swing Kings is a 19-piece big band of professional all-star musicians playing your favorite music from the swing and big band era.

Correction- there seems to be no "back in the day" for Mr. King and his orchestra of accomplished and talented musicians.  

I have watched with interest via Facebook how this group keeps rolling on, year after year, and their example of how living with meaning and purpose is known to be a key component to successful aging.  They have gigs lined up into 2022!  Quite a lesson for all us youngsters out there- I think. 

Lesson One:  Share the gifts you have been given, stay active, and do it with others, and often.


The Arizona Swing Kings website showcases videos, and one includes a young man on alto saxophone jamming with veteran musicians.  Like wine, musicians grow finer with age, and musicianship is as much about heart, soul, and wisdom as technical expertise. 

Lesson Two:  The wisdom that elders offer is something that Google will never replace.  

There is something about music that opens the brain to all sorts of happy feelings. For older adults, music is a path to the person that they were and are. It opens memories, mostly good, to times and places they traveled or experienced. You can hear a song a thousand times and it will spur the same reaction.

Annette (Armstrong) Wegener, Len King high school band student

Relax and listen:


The orchestra is so special because they are so excellent. They really can swing! They all seem like they’re having a great time and the director is always making jokes and pointing out members of the band, and members of the audience. I knew, as an audience member, I was listening to a group of talented musicians. Then, if you factor in that they are all seniors, it is quite amazing.  

Jenny (Smith) Prochaska, Len King high school band student

Aging is the thing that we all do, yet some never get the chance to grow old.  My guess is that these musicians consider growing old a gift (verses the alternative).   They have learned to make the best of it.  

Lesson Three:  Live with gratitude and don't take things for granted.  




Finally, imagine still being able to participate in an activity that you so love at the age of 80- or older!  For some, an afternoon rest may be required before an evening gig, so go-ahead and make modifications when needed, and maintain activity continuity to keep your soul and spirit elevated.

Lesson Four: Don't give up on activities just because you are older. 

Lesson Five:  Teachers from the past can continue to teach you things.

Len King

Len King,

Rolling Meadows High School Band Director

Rolling Meadows, Illinois

1971 - 1990



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