Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Take Some Time to Do the Things You Never Have Ooh Ooh

A couple of weeks ago, I posed a question about ways to avoid one of the main pitfalls of the broke life: retreating from social activity.  It is such a central question that I dealt with it in the first chapter of my book.

So you have to be proactive and do the inviting.  Come up with cheery free stuff to do and you suggest the activity.  Have a potluck.  Plan a scavenger hunt. Go mushroom hunting in the woods and cook up your crop.  If you do it early and often, your friends will think of you as a creative person who suggests out of the ordinary activities, and they’ll actually feel positively about you.

Social activities do not have to be extravagant; they just need to be done together.  Philip Simmons author of Learning to Fall gets nostalgic when he’s around garbage.  “When I was spending summers [in New Hampshire] as a child, about the only time I got to spend with my father was while we were working together on something, and so I have fond memories of our trips to the dump.  The work was tedious and smelly, and I don’t suppose we talked a whole lot, but it was good simply to be in my father’s presence…”

 For some reason, my millions of readers did not jump in with their amazing ideas and suggestions.  So I will add one here.  Join a choir.

As I noted in The Elvis Impersonation Kit: "For inexpensive musical instruction, try auditioning for your church choir and practice, practice, practice.  Elvis Presley got his start this way.  He sang in the choir at the First Assembly of God Church in Tupelo, MS, and it was here that he gave his first public performances as a singer.  In fact, his earliest musical influences may have been the pastors who played guitar along with church services."

Minnesota Public Radio concurs.  Their article "Singing in a Choir is Good for You" reports on the findings of a new study by Chorus America:

Americans like to think of themselves as folks involved in their communities, who give back and are good sports about it. A new study out by Chorus America shows that these attributes are particularly pronounced in American choral singers.

Choral singers are more likely to vote, give money to philanthropies, and also to volunteer; they're the kind of people you want on your team. These civic-minded, socially adept folks are in enormous numbers in the U.S. Some 32.5 million adults sing in 270,000 choruses.

What draws people to singing -- beyond the sheer artistic experience and communal expression -- is partly the accessibility of singing. There are few economic or educational barriers. And a singer need not possess the level of skill of an instrumentalist to still feel like a contributor to the creation of art.

What a singer gets in return is an intangible mix of pride and joy. But this particular study has found that singers in choruses also develop positive attributes that can be measured. 
Greater civic involvement, discipline, teamwork, increased social skills, volunteerism, philanthropy, and support of other art forms are some of the very tangible qualities that increase when a person sings in a chorus.
I mean, don't these guys look like they're having fun?