Musical Chairs

Our bell choir is aging. We have a few members who are in their 30’s and 40’s, but most of us are 60+. The younger players tend to be more agile, and play the smaller bells that require more speed and dexterity. That leaves the treble and bass bells to us slower and steadier players. I play the G and A below middle C. Husband plays the C and D below middle C.

We have five octaves of bells. The bells increase in size as they get lower, and our lowest bell is the F one and a half octaves below middle C. Those bottom bells are huge, and have to be rung with both hands. (Usually, a ringer has at least one bell in each hand. Not these low bells). Our director asked me this week if I would mind switching to the lowest bells, since I am the least arthritic of any of the other older players, and the current player is having too much arm and had pain to continue in that position. I said I would be happy to, but I might invest in some wrist supports.

I shall miss G and A, but it’s nice to have new musical challenges sometimes. I suppose it is a compliment to be the least orthopedically challenged older player in the group.

What are your challenges as you age? What promotions did you experience at work, and how did they work out? What are your experiences in musical emsembles?

43 thoughts on “Musical Chairs”

  1. do you run ads for bell ringers in the local bulletins
    you may find new meat
    if you could have as many ringers as you wanted how many would it be?
    challenges as i grow older? push ups
    damn
    falling asleep at christmas carol last night
    figuring out tech advances as they come

    promotions at work
    none ever boss was relentless

    musical ensembles
    rock band
    guitar night
    choirs are all highlights
    need to start up new singing group but can afford one more night of practice
    already have 9 nights a month spoken for but i’m guessing i will add a night to begin a group this year

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I have some shoulder issues that seem to take turns – right now it’s the left shoulder giving me fits, and I’ll see my chiropractor later today. The t’ai chi has helped, I think, keep knee problems at bay, but I notice my hip joints after an 8-block walk. And of course the memory is a sieve some days. But overall, I feel pretty lucky.

    When I was with PDI, the consulting group – I was eventually promoted from Receptionist to Internal Consultant… don’t remember a raise with that.

    I’ve sung in choirs all through high school, college, San Francisco Civic Chorale, and other community chooruses. REALLY looking forward to Covid waning a bit more before we fire up our Song Circle group here again.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. The biggest surprise I’ve had about aging is how confusing my life now is. I am a person who wants to understand my life and perceive the critical patterns in it. But I’m often bewildered. I can’t tell when a health issue is temporary or permanent, something caused by aging. I can’t tell why some problems come and go as they do, which is to say I don’t understand the causation involved. I know I cannot believe all the medical advice I get, for some of it does not apply to me, but I struggle to know which advice is critically important and which only relates to the experiences of others.

    The biggest challenge is sorting through and dealing with many different issues that end up combining to challenge my health. Several long-standing issues are now combining with long haul Covid to keep me in trouble. I would like to fight intelligently to make things better, but the overall picture continues to be confusing. It sure doesn’t help that the medical community knows so little about long Covid.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I find my physical balance to be a surprising challenge. I notice it most on hikes over rocky, uneven paths (in the woods, etc.) that have elevation changes. BWCA trips are tricky too, just getting in and out of the canoe, then hoisting the pack or canoe onto my shoulders and carrying that load.

    Even around the house, I’m more aware of losing my balance doing some mundane chore. I now see why falling is a real concern for senior citizens. Never thought I’d have to worry about that much, but I do now.

    Musical ensembles? Too many to recall but I’ll name a few. School bands and orchestra from grades 5-12. Jazz ensemble in HS. Brass ensembles for district contests. College was wind ensembles and jazz ensembles. Then I directed Jr and Sr High bands for 6 years at Carlton HS and started a jazz ensemble in the HS. I also directed the Cloquet community band for a few years. After moving back to the Twin Cities I played in the St. Louis Park community band and the Hopkins community band for several years (on trumpet). I was in the U of M pit orchestra for “Kiss me Kate” one season (loads of fun!)

    My brush with greatness was getting recruited by the one and only Alexander O’Neil to be in an ensemble he was putting together at the start of his career. He and his piano player heard me practicing in Scott Hall at the U and asked me if I’d be interested. I said sure. We practiced several times. I think the group was piano, bass, drums, percussion, me on trumpet, and O’Neil singing. Then we did a free showcase performance at a club on Hennepin Ave. on a Sunday afternoon. I think it went well, but shortly after that gig, the piano player got busted for illegal firearm possession or something like that, and the group disbanded. But O’Neil still managed to hit it big a few years after that.

    Chris in Owatonna
    (hmm, I might have actually named them all!)

    Liked by 6 people

    1. A physical therapist pointed out to me that I can practice balance to correct the balance issues. Balance is achieved by small movements of muscles that must be exercised along with he larger movement. It was a revelation and it works well to practice balance, as long as you don’t fall into the mindset of, “now I have to do that, too.” Don’t ask me how I knew about that thought. 😤

      Liked by 4 people

  5. RIse and Shine Baboons,

    Arthritis is my primary challenge in aging. Sigh. How non-distinctive is that, given that it seems to be the universal problem. The last week has really highlighted it for me because of all the weather changes which really affect arthritis. And migraines. I have been extra crabby given the weather change migraines, as well. Steve is very correct when he talks about sorting through all the different symptoms and determining what they mean, if anything at all.

    Early in my life I was in many musical ensembles as a Music Geek from age 12 on through college. They were, for the most part, just wonderful experiences that gave me confidence. I am so grateful that I had those opportunities. They came to an end when I was 40 years old and I developed TMJ and, Tah-Dah, arthritis in my jaw.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. The only musical groups I’ve been in are choirs. I was in our high school choir, and have sine then been in a couple of other more or less organized and formal ones. But mostly, my singing has been in less formalized settings, such a neighborhood sing-a-longs and other groups where enthusiasm and gusto were welcomed regardless of skill level. I love to sing with friends.

    Promotions? Too many and too boring to detail, except for one. At Kinderspital in Basel I was hired to clean patient rooms. After two weeks on that job I was moved to the cafeteria for nurses and other staff (not including doctors, who had their own). Not, mind you, because I was doing such a good job of cleaning patient rooms, but because I was spending too much time comforting the sick kids. It took me hours longer than the other cleaners to complete cleaning my assigned rooms. Working in the cafeteria was a much better deal. Better hours, a schedule that didn’t vary, and better pay, too. I think I was moved to that position because I was one of the few “domestic” staff who spoke a reasonable semblance of German. Most of the “domestic” workers were from Italy with a few stragglers from Iceland, the Faeroe Islands, Denmark, and Germany. One of the two German girls on staff had serious mental issues, so she was out of contention.

    As for physical challenges of this aging body, they, too, are too numerous and boring to elaborate on, though I suppose you could classify them as an organ recital to fit in with the musical part of this thread. (Ba-dum! I’ll se myself out.) Seriously, I just consider myself lucky that my brain is reasonably functional.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Steve nailed it! Every little ache or unusual feeling has a website for self-diagnosis and possible therapy often quackery.
    I’m confident that with a quick search I’d find someone with a GofundMe to conduct a search for The Fountain of Youth.
    I can visualize Renee as Esmeralda but who is Quizimodo among the bell ringers?

    Liked by 3 people

  8. As someone who is famously “singing impaired,” I have generally avoided singing in public for the same basic reason I don’t throw garbage out of my car window. But there was an exception. I attended a conference of people supporting the United Nations. Today’s baboons are mostly too young to remember when idealism and hope made the United Nations a cherished institution. We had a concert one night. The usual post-concert performer, Pete Seeger, could not come, so we were entertained instead by a very young Judy Collins. After her concert I joined several young folks onstage to lead the crowd in renditions of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” and “We shall overcome.” As many police blotter reports drily observe, “some alcohol was involved.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Judy Collins. Ah, yes. I was a big fan at U of Chi. One of few people I saw in live performance, twice. 30 years ago I bought two albums by her. They drove my daughter crazy. Band teacher told me in all his years he taught two kids with true pitch, his daughter and mine. Even I could then hear how Judy drifted off pitch. How did musically stunted I produce a musically gifted child? It does pop up here and there in my mother’s family. But Sandy’s Russian relatives are excellent singers and here and there a pianist. Then daughter married into a musical family. Grand daughter has her mother’s ease with all things musical ease. Just got hired for part time church gig as guitarist. Now developing her singing.

      Liked by 4 people

  9. Between Kelly, I, and daughter, we all take a few pills. Recently Kelly and I have each added another. Kelly bought a little shelf unit to help hold them all; I joked that now we need TWO shelves to hold all our pills.

    My mom, 95 evidently had a minor clot in her occipital region as she lost a lot of vision rather suddenly last week. She’s really be struggling with that the last few days. Frustrating for her, frustrating for us trying to help. Getting old isn’t for sissies. Mom tells me everyone has their troubles. While telling other kids she needs help. It’s interesting how the family dynamics work…

    Joined the school band in 5th grade and did that all through high school. I played with the Chatfield Brass Band just for a year or two…Was only in one pit orchestra and then I let theater take me to the booth.

    The handbells look hard: I’d have a hard time waiting for “my” note to come around I think. My mind would wander… haha

    Liked by 4 people

  10. My challenges: osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, and slow brain. My gastroenterologist just emailed he read my file and is wondering about how he will proceed with all the pain and fm sensitivity issues. I have too much on my mind as I do things and often drop things or bump things or make stupid mistakes. It gets me how I cannot drop worries and focus.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’ve tried to stay in pretty good shape as I age and have done a fairly good job. Luckily the only prescription med I have been on is for osteoporosis. Currently I am on a two year reprieve (since I was on it for 5 full years). As others have mentioned, balance is one area I need to work on.

    I have been involved with music activities since childhood. I have sung in choirs on and off since Cherub choir in church. I played clarinet from 5th through 12th grade and was in concert band, pep band, and marching band along with several other ensembles. Haven’t touched it since HS and maybe could still play a few notes, but have forgotten fingerings. I’ve played piano since childhood (8 years of lessons) and have accompanied many vocal and instrumental groups since junior high school. Currently I accompany one children’s choir and share rehearsal accompanist duties for church choir. I’ve been at the keyboard for 5 school musicals and one community performance of “The Messiah”.

    I was promoted from staff nurse to head nurse at the “ripe old age” of 27. I was really not ready for all the responsibility nor for the transition from being one of the staff to being the boss. After 3+ years, I demoted myself back to staff nurse on a different unit, where I thrived for over 25 years.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. About the only thing I have to say about aging is that it sucks. It wasn’t really a surprise that my body doesn’t respond the way it used to but I didn’t really see it coming.

    Musical ensembles just a couple of choirs. For the most part I like the singing but I also I’m not crazy about extra hours and double services. My last choir was marred by a choir directors who for the most part was wonderful but in a couple of ways he really rubbed me the wrong way.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I love my music ensemble! The Birds and I sing You Are My Sunshine after breakfast. They will be learning Good Morning To You:
    “Good morning to you!
    We’re all in our places
    With clean beaks and faces
    Now this is way
    To start a new day”
    I’ve never been a choir director. This is good enough.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. All God’s Children have a place in the choir
      Some sing low,
      Some sing higher,
      Some sing out loud on a telephone wire.
      Some just clap their hands, paws, whatever they got now…

      Liked by 3 people

  14. As the daughter of a choir director and church organist, you don’t get out of being in choir. Add to that a father who played piano from the time he was a wee lad until almost the day he died, not playing something would have possibly been scandalous. I took up piano around age 5 or 6, flute in 4th grade. Kept both up through high school (I think my high school band teacher might finally have forgiven me for quitting part way through junior year because I was tired of dealing with the very clique-y other flautists). Choir started at a similarly early age and ended closer to middle school. Bell choir was in there somewhere, too. Pre-COVID, I still could scratch the music itch with the volunteer history/appreciation lessons I did at Daughter’s former elementary school – that has not yet come back, which is not surprising.

    As for aging… yeah. Flexibility is mostly what I currently notice – I don’t bend the way I used to. No regular prescriptions yet (knock wood), though there have been some surgeries. And memory is not what it once was, which is really showing with my recent promotion at work where I now have to track way more than I used to (oy!).

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I am now the person who not only has to decide what our software developers build next, I need to also build the strategy and long range planning. So instead of being the person who gets to help figure out how to get to Duluth (metaphorically), I am doing the work to figure out are we heading to Duluth or should we be heading to Fargo?

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I have some CMC arthritis in the left thumb, and bone spurs in the left knee. Also vision that gets a little worse every year. The thing that bugs me, though, is that I’ve become so much more clumsy than I ever imagined that I would be. When I try to to sew or do needlework of any kind, I’m all thumbs – CMC-afflicted thumbs, at that – and I just seem to drop things and walk into things on a daily basis. I wouldn’t mind the cosmetic effects of aging if I could just function the way I did as a younger person.

    Liked by 4 people

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