Aging Well: The Best Days of Your Life

PALS Chorus Rehearsal

I have two little books called Sniglets, which are filled with made-up words that should be in the dictionary. Ear worm describes a song that gets stuck in your head, just like The Best Day of My Life is stuck in mine. But, it's also lingering in my heart, mainly because of the positive experience that accompanies this song.

When I'm working from home, I will frequently take a musical break, which is often accompanied by some pretty slick (ha!) dance moves. During one of my internet searches, I came across the video you see below. I was intrigued.

PALS Chorus bills itself as "Vancouver's hippest non-auditioned 55+ chorus." With songs from Adele, Billy Joel, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry in their repertoire, "hippest" is just one of the many adjectives that can be used to describe this friendly and energetic group of people ranging in age from 55 to 84 - but who's counting!

After watching the video and hearing what Lonnie, the musical director, had to say about what he has absorbed from conducting the PALS Chorus, I knew I had to write about them, especially since it is in alignment with what is true about aging well. 

When I contacted PALS Chorus, I was graciously invited to a practice session. I didn't have to think twice about accepting this invite - let's just say I have a better chance of winning the lottery than I do of someone inviting me to sing!

When I arrived, I asked a few members for three words to describe what the PALS Chorus means to them.

Here is what they had to say:

  • Beth - "Music, engagement, community."
  • Pamela - "Fun, happiness, retaining memory."
  • Rick - "Harmony, joy, community."
  • Bill - "Satisfaction, relaxation, discipline."
  • Jeanette - "Energy, camaraderie, peace."
  • Dean - "A great pleasure."

In the video, Lonnie used three phrases that touched my heart when he spoke about what the PALS Chorus has taught him about aging: "Engaged, taking risks and always be learning."

Would you use these words to describe yourself, regardless of your age and/or your diffabilitiesIf not, it's never too late to make a change, like my friend Lisa did.

Stress can and does interfere with your ability to age well. For a very timely example of how stress ages, find a picture of your favourite politician just before he or she takes office, then find one that is taken a year later. What do you notice?

One of the big benefits of regularly practicing stress techniques is getting regular doses of the things you love - the things that make your heart sing. When you do, you become more resilient. You develop flexibility, not only in your thinking, but also in the way you live your life. This type of aging living is what the PALS Chorus models.

Singing Practice Session

The group is known as an SATB Chorus - soprano, alto, tenor and bass. The session began with some fun warm-ups that included a lot of laughter - talk about beginning on the right note! Lonnie, the conductor, reminded us to "project the feeling through the whole body." Not bad advice, even if you're not in a choir. Learn to project those positive feelings throughout your whole body and you have just added a wonderful stress undressing technique to your repertoire.

We began by singing Roar by Katy Perry. Being a chorus neophyte, I found the whole experience uplifting. The next song was even more so; in fact it's the one that has given me an ear worm. It's also given me an additional tool to use when I work with clients - more on that to come! I unfortunately had to leave part way through, so I don't know what was practiced in the second hour.

The Chorus

Thanks to funding from a New Horizons grant from the Canadian government, the PALS Chorus joined together in song in the spring of 2011.

The songs that they perform appeal to a wide audience. In addition to the contemporary tunes, they also perform some gospel, doo-wop and other favourites from the last millennium.

You'll find a wide range of skill in the chorus - from the absolute beginner to those who have a vast range of stage and/or musical experience. It was an incredible experience to not only be lost in music, but to be taking an active part in it!

The Musical Director

It is evident that there is a great deal of love and respect for Lonnie Delisle. Through his vibrant and enthusiastic accompaniment on the piano, Lonnie brings out the best in this troupe. His Masters of Music in Vocal Performance and a Bachelor of Arts in Music supports him in his work, not only with this chorus but with his many other musical ventures within the city.

We Will Rock You!

On June 1st, 2014, PALS Chorus will be performing their spring concert with special guests Showstoppers. Purchase tickets here or at the door - Unity of Vancouver, 5840 Oak Street (at 42nd Avenue) in Vancouver, BC.

Find out more about PALS Chorus by reading this article in Senior Living magazine.

Final Words

There are many things you can do to help you address and undress your stress, regardless of where you are in your life. Take time to do the things you love. Experiment - try on new activities.

Be aware of your feelings as you go through The Stages of Learning, as described in Acting: Thinking to Doing - Part 1. You don't want to quit before you've even started just because you are feeling uncomfortable, which is to be expected when you are doing something new. Stress can get in the way of your doing what you love, regardless if it is on stage, in front of a classroom or in the swimming pool. You can do something about stress.

Decide to have as many best days of your life as you can. If you can't have a best day - start with a best moment. String those best moments together until you have a best day - for the health of it! Struggling to get started? I can help!

If you like having fun with words, order your own copy of Sniglets:

10 Replies to “Aging Well: The Best Days of Your Life”

  1. Oh! I LOVE Sniglets!!! Now where did I put my copies…

    I’d love to join a chorus. In which my totally awful singing could get lost among the masses. 😉

    1. I hope you find your Sniglets books, Lene.

      Well, we’ll make sure you and I don’t stand close to one another in a choir – we need the strong voices to carry us through! 😉

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jacqui. They are definitely a lively bunch. There is merit to raising one’s voice in song with a group of people, especially one that is so accepting. 🙂

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