Redefining Retirement: Kid in a Candy Store

Redefining Retirement

When she retired from being a band director and general music teacher in 2004, Janine Ptasinski was in no way ready to slow down or let go of her creative spirit. In fact, she decided to double down on her artistic efforts, taking on creative endeavors she had never before explored.

Since she focused her education and teaching career on instrumental music, Janine never had much opportunity to try singing. Retirement changed all that, and she first joined the choir at St. John Cantius Church, a historic baroque church in the heart of Chicago that regularly offers concerts and music events performing chamber music, opera, instrumental music, and other wide-ranging musical styles, in addition to their Sunday Mass choral arrangements. The choir produces recordings, and Janine can be heard on several of them singing and/or playing the flute; they even signed a contract with Sony International Recordings, which technically makes her an international recording artist!

Bitten by the singing bug, Janine decided to take private vocal lessons with instructors at Columbia College where she learned art and opera songs that allowed her to sing in German, French, Italian, Polish, and Latin, which earned her a solo in a workshop performance of “The Incurable Invalid” by Moliere. This led to her performing other solo shows at senior clubs, nursing homes, and park districts, and eventually joining the Niles Metropolitan Chorus, a group that regularly performs choral music and oratorios at various venues around the northern Chicago suburbs.

Janine also founded a chorus for older adults where she wrote all the arrangements and led them in performances around the local community. The group started with only four members and eventually grew to 25, and Janine conducted them for nine years.

Feeling that she had more to contribute than just her musical talents, Janine answered an ad for a wedding coordinator at St. Vincent Ferrer Church, and for three years helped couples design their church wedding service, from organizing the procession and choreographing the service, to collaborating with vendors like photographers and florists.

Always on the lookout for other creative outlets, Janine started taking drawing classes at the Portage Park Satellite Senior Center, where she learned to work with charcoal, colored pencils, water colors, and oil paints. She also joined a former colleague at a creative writing class at St. Genevieve Church where she expanded and improved her skills in poetry and essay writing.

And if all that wasn’t enough, Janine also decided to work on improving her physical health, taking older adult exercise classes and getting herself a personal trainer.

Retirement has made Janine a self-described “kid in a candy store,” where she has discovered so many things she wants to do and is delighted to have the time to do them all. With so much to keep her busy, she won’t be slowing down anytime soon.


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