Feature Stories

How Music Can Keep You Young

Did you ever listen to one of those Golden Oldies stations and hear a song that transported you back to your youth? It’s amazing how a particular song can trigger the thoughts and emotions of a special time in your life. Sometimes those memories are sad ones but many times it rekindles a moment of happiness, romance or just a great time. It seems like every summer of my teenage years had a song that became a favorite and managed to link together memories of places and friends and events that can cause the years disappear and make you feel younger just thinking about it. The mind has more control over how we feel than we care to admit but, once you realize that, you can create those memories and feelings almost at will. I know from experience that some songs will bring a smile to my face and have a way of cheering me up no matter what’s going on.

Music has a way of shaping our life in many different ways and can provide a path toward increasing our enjoyment whether it’s by playing an instrument, singing or just sitting back and listening to our favorite artist, composer or band. With very little music ability, I fall into the category of listener but that doesn’t mean I don’t thoroughly appreciate the magical way a particular song or artist can make all the problems in the world disappear for just a moment. I marvel at some songwriters and their gift to express an emotion with the perfect word choice for a lyric and a melody that stays in your head in a way that is almost mystical. They can touch your heart and spirit so deeply that you wonder how someone can be that talented and offer such powerful insight into the intimate relationships that provide the true meaning we find in our lives. They have a gift we truly appreciate and provide an escape from reality if just for a few minutes. It can literally transport us to another time in our life.

Try going on the internet and getting a list of all the top songs from your younger days. The Billboard list of hits is a great source for this because you can research any year back to when you were born. It’s amazing to see the songs you forgot about and the ones that bring back a specific time and place. If you concentrate, you’ll feel all the emotions that you felt back then come back in a way that might surprise you. I have a friend who, in his younger days, had become the bass player for a band that never got quite good enough to perform anywhere but the three songs they had learned still triggered that desire for a musical career in my friend again. So much so that he started taking lessons on the bass guitar that had ended up in his basement. He had moved a few times and, when it came time to make the choice of whether to say goodbye to his dream and get rid of the guitar, he couldn’t let it go.

Many experts say that learning to play an instrument in your later years can be a very healthy thing to do and way to keep your mind alert and your outlook positive. Will you ever get your skills to be performance worthy? Maybe not, but it will never be time wasted. If music can work its magic just by listening to it, imagine what it can do when you take up an instrument. Learning to play the piano, for example, provides a structure where you can set goals and make definite progress that you can hear with each piece you play. It can also help you discover an inner talent that you never knew you had.

When it comes to learning an instrument, don’t forget about your voice. I did not know that voice was considered an instrument until our daughter applied to college as a Music major and they asked what instrument she played on the application. Although she also played the piano, the box she checked of was “voice”.  My daughter is the reason I became aware of how profoundly music can impact a person’s life. She is a teacher now and I’ve been privileged enough to hear some of her lessons, so I know firsthand how excited someone becomes when they master a new piece.

Our daughter, now in her early forties, still takes voice lessons and has the same passion for music that she did in her college days. It still excites her to learn a new technique and master something she has worked on for weeks. Are you one of those people who can get lost in the pleasure that music can bring to your life? Have you ever thought of learning an instrument? That’s what retirement is for – to learn new things and relive old dreams. If you have no desire to learn an instrument but still like to listen to music, then you can join me as I pour a glass of wine and listen to one of my favorite albums. It’s time to Enjoy Retired Life!

James Conner retired from Corporate America in 2017.  He lives in upstate New York and is the owner of the website EnjoyRetiredLife.com. He can be reached jconner@EnjoyRetiredLife.com.

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