Creativity in Retirement:

Let the Instrument be the Teacher

I started playing guitar in the last few years, so improvement is the name of the game.  I wanted to advance from being a beginner to playing music I enjoy listening to. I got invited to play with a group of about five other people, all more advanced musicians, and playing with them has helped me improve the most. I also took a semester-long guitar class at a local community college and a few shorter courses at UCSD Extension.  I had the good fortune to have excellent instructors for both and have continued private lessons.  This has been a lot of fun, which drives wanting to improve. When I hear something I like, I try to play it, even at a beginner level.  

Learning a song or a technique on the guitar is itself creative. If I can play a tune better than I did a week ago, that’s gratifying.  Figuring out how to play a tricky part of a song creates the ‘I can do it!’ feeling.  Playing music is an immediate gratification experience, so if I play something that sounds good, I want to play more.  The most fun thing has been playing music with other people; it’s a great environment to develop music skills.  And there’s a lot of collaboration, cooperation, and organization when playing a song together.  Interacting and learning from my music teachers has been very motivating because they are so engaged in their music.  Listening to different musical genres at local venues has been inspiring and has resulted in fun nights out. 

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Ghost Army

A Legacy of Creative Service.

Colonel Schmidt smiled broadly and pulled on his cigarette.  He envisioned the Fuhrer promoting him to General and pinning a medal on his chest in the main square of Berlin. It would be the proudest day of his life.

But then something was wrong. Where were the battalions he expected to meet on the other side of the forest? All the messages they had intercepted indicated the presence of troops there. He had seen many tanks in the area with his own eyes! He had heard the advancing trucks. When a shell landed near the Colonel, his smile left for good, and he scurried for cover.

So, what is that vignette all about? The German officer had been duped by the Ghost Army, an undercover unit during WW II whose mission was to deceive the enemy and trick them into chasing the nonexistent American troops. The Ghost Army used dummy weapons like rubber tanks and trucks, allowed the Germans to intercept manufactured radio messages, and used powerful loudspeakers to convince the Germans that they were hearing troop movements.

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