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Don't Die Of Retirement Boredom

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Men used to die of retirement boredom as soon as they won their freedom from their jobs. It was accepted that your mind (especially your memory) became worse as you got older. Well, as they say on TV, "Have I got a deal for you!"

Use it or lose it
If you are bracing yourself for another lecture about spending hours on the treadmill or exercise bicycle forget it. I can't think of anything more boring than doing all that work and getting nowhere. If you are thinking of improving your memory by memorizing the phone book - good luck to you - it's far too boring for me.

Solve these retirement problems:

  1. Boredom
  2. Physical Inactivity
  3. Lack of social interaction
  4. No opportunity to show off your skills (that was my main interest in working)
  5. Breathing problems such as asthma
  6. Memory problems
  7. No challenge for split-second decisions
  8. No chance to work in a team
  9. Nothing new to learn means your brain deteriorates

Barbershop Singing Is The Answer
Before you object that you can't sing, think about it. Do you talk in a monotone, or does your voice go up and down over a range of pitch? Are you stone deaf? Do you have Alzheimer's disease? If you don't have one of these problems you can probably sing in barbershop. You probably won't sing well enough to be a soloist, but the musical director keeps telling us that we don't want soloists in barbershop. He says that we are given two ears and one mouth, so we should listen to the other singers twice as much as we sing.

Watch the orchestral conductor when a famous operatic singer is performing. He is desperately trying to make the orchestra back up the soloist, who isn't listening to them and may even be singing flat. He will change the length of notes and the orchestra has to try to change the length of their notes to match. He is famous enough not to listen. Ladies barbershop singers are mostly in the Sweet Adelines organization.

How does barbershop solve your problems?

  1. Boredom: practice for an hour or more each day. That takes up some of your time, and will energize you for other activities.
  2. Physical Inactivity: Watch a barbershop performance. The ladies usually have better choreography than the men, but we do move about on the stage in our own clumsy way.
  3. Lack of social interaction: Once you pass your audition you will be in a close-knit community. Even before then, most choruses will have people clustering round a newcomer to help him or her to pass the audition. We have too few singers, so we do everything we can to help you to pass your audition.
  4. No opportunity to show off your skills (that was my main interest in working): Have you seen a Barbershop performance? They say there is no business like show business, but barbershopers enjoy each performance as much as professional show-biz people pretend to enjoy what they are doing.
  5. Breathing problems such as asthma: Controlled breathing for singing can even help problems with asthma;.
  6. Memory problems: I hated memorizing poetry as a child. I think I still would hate it. But we sing all our barbershop songs from memory. I've never sat down to memorize a barbershop song, and I've memorized hundreds of them. It just sort of filters in during my practice.
  7. No challenge for split-second decisions: If the chorus starts a third repeat when there should only be two, you must join them in the third repeat in a fraction of a second, so that the audience won't notice a moment of silence. You must behave as if it was deliberate. The story is that everything that happens on the stage is deliberate.
  8. No chance to work in a team: A chorus is a team, but some members don't pull their weight. If you ever get in a quartet you must pull your weight, because you are the only one singing your part. If you make any mistakes the other three members of the quartet must pretend that they are deliberate.
  9. Nothing new to learn means your brain deteriorates: Perhaps you weren't listening. We don't half-learn songs like the choirs do. We memorize them to start off with, and then learn how to improve them and use appropriate choreography. If you never learned to read music, now is the time (it's easier than learning to read words). If you never had any singing lessons, now is your chance. The first thing you will learn is how to breathe properly.

Our half-humorous farewell is "Keep breathing." Those who don't follow our advice usually get a barbershop chorus to sing for free at their funeral. At least they didn't die of retirement boredom.

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