Yep, it's that time again. Time to start your diet, exercise more, read more, spend more quality time with family, make more meaningful friendships, balance your life and finances, clean the house...OK I was tired at start your diet.
Making promises to do better at so many things at once can become so overwhelming that we just give up and don't accomplish anything. It is so much better to choose something small and reach that goal before tackling another one. So much easier said than done even if it is small...right? I hear you.
I think I might just have an idea of how you could accomplish several on my list with just one change....join a choir. Yes, join a choir. You will be exercising your mind, heart and lungs ( a lot like yoga and meditation), drinking more water out of necessity, reading new literature in a foreign language (music is foreign yet universal), spending quality time with family if you bring them along to sing with you, meeting new friends and getting to know old friends better, developing a sense of community, and bringing some sort of balance to your life.
Music can do these and so much more for you. Consider your role in the singing community of your town. Bellingham Music Enrichment Project has three choirs for you to consider joining, along with choir festivals and choral reading sessions in the planning stages. Check out our Choirs on our website. www.bellinghammusicenrichmentproject.org
Stay Calm and Sing All Day
Once again we enter into the holiday season with an array of tree decorating, concerts every weekend, rehearsals, santa at every shopping center, crowds, traffic, shopping, family dinners, and the list goes on and on...
Do you hear that? It's the sound of music showing the way to peace, love, and harmony. A sigh of relief.
It might be a very busy time of year for so many of us, especially those of us who are committed to sharing our gifts of music with the community. But, in an effort to bring people closer together and even just for a moment, forget the woes of this world and sit together in harmony, it is worth it all.
Music brings our community out of its segregated corners into a love-filled room where everyone is accepted and welcomed. Regardless or your holiday celebration traditions, we can all agree that we wish for the same things at this time of year. Homes for the homeless, food for the hungry, clothes to keep warm, peace and love in our community.
Music might not be able to provide all of those things, but it can bring people together so they can be a community and work together towards those goals.
The Bellingham Community Chorus provided a benefit concert on December 3rd, at the United Church of Ferndale. The proceeds from the concert went to the Interfaith Coalition Family Housing Project. $520.55 was raised to help with the homeless families in Whatcom County. I am beaming that I was able to be a part of that experience.
I love music :)
I know it's only the 2nd of August, but I'm getting that bug to start being busy again with teaching and singing. Summer is always a bittersweet time in the life of teachers and musicians because we are so much in need of a respite, but miss the chaos of a busy schedule and the comradery of singing together with others. So, August begins that itch to get back into it all. All the planning and preparation that goes into teaching and conducting groups begins right about now for many of us. We can't wait to see (actually hear) all the new music that has been published while we were sleeping in most days. We can't wait to get out our calendars and plan an entire years worth of rehearsals and concerts. We can't wait for that first rehearsal, which resembles a family reunion for most of us. And we can't wait to break open our music and start creating beautiful sounds again.
I will let you in on a little secret....we won't let on that we really want and need all of those activities to begin, but in reality, we really almost need those things to begin in order to feel life again. It's almost like an adrenaline junkie who needs that next bungie jump off a cliff to get through the week. Don't get me wrong though, the respite is well-deserved and needed in order to fuel up the the next nine months. I will be extremely sad to see the summer months behind me and I'll count the months and days until it comes again....but for now I will enjoy the last few weeks before the madness/fun begins.
I do hope that many music lovers will consider joining in on this experience of music making with others. It is something that cannot compare to any other medicine.
It is always bittersweet when another choir season comes to a close. That weekly meeting of like minds and spirits where we will no longer collaborate in the beauty of creating music.....that is until next Fall.
We have spent countless hours together, working on breathing together, annunciation of consonants and vowels, correcting rhythms and dynamic contrast, holding our music up and practicing that stage face look. We made new friendships and renewed old ones. We look forward to seeing our singing buddies each week and mourn when they are absent knowing there are fewer singers to rely on and you will have to step up your game.
The Spring Concert was fabulous and the excitement in the air was felt by all. They audience learned so much about what we were sharing with them through Tim's eloquent introductions and through our words and music. So many people were kind with their words of praise afterwards. How nice to have offered something to our community that was appreciated by all.
It's sad to be apart for a while, but a much needed break for our voices and bodies is forthcoming. Until September my friends.
As we enter the Holiday Season, the feeling of time slipping away becomes more and more of a reality rather than just another post on FaceBook counting down the shopping days until Christmas. Having that feeling of being rushed to gather ingredients for the Thanksgiving meal and waiting until the last minute only to get there and realize you are not the only one with that personality trait. Four hundred of your neighbors have also been so busy with work that they too are trying to find that last can of cranberry sauce on the shelf.
When our children were young we decided to change how we celebrated Thanksgiving by going out into the community and serving others. What a life-changing experience. To this day we have a desire to be involved with those less fortunate than us. It keeps our problems in perspective to what is going on outside of ourselves.
As for Christmas shopping....well, I started a new tradition a few years back that puts the shopping all on the receiver of the gift. No, it's not gift cards, well yes, in the stockings, but not for gifts. Our family has been so very blessed that we limit how much we receive anymore. One year my daughter said she didn't need or want anything for Christmas because she had everything she needed. My son felt the same. So, now we look to the giving guide of no more than four presents (which actually comes out more like two in our family); want, need, wear, read. Since our kids are grown, we tend to lean towards the need and read categories. Therefore, the receiver must provide the information or they giver can't go shopping.
So what does any of this have to do with being jolly? Well, since stress seems to be on the rise in our society and only getting worse around the holidays, we need to STOP and make time to be jolly. Many people are not happy at all during this time because they have lost loved ones and just cannot get back that joy that they have lost. We need to STOP and help someone else be jolly. Giving joy and love is the best way that I have found to be happy. Make time for yourself and others less fortunate than you.
OK....but this is a musical site. Where is the connection? Ah, music. Music soothes the soul, tames the savage beast, brings back memories, helps with all sorts of medical problems, and is just one thing that I do not think our society could live without. For me, singing and playing piano are a sort of therapy. I can realize and release all sorts of emotions while engaging in a musical experience. I recommend that if you are musical, you give back to your community in a musical way. Play or sing holiday songs at a retirement center or respite center, the hospital lobby, at the fire and police stations, at church, in a community senior center, or just for your family.
The family that "plays" together, stays together.
Today was a day for friendship, fellowship, food, and renewal. The weather took me to that place that always makes me feel happy inside. It's cool and crisp in the air with just the right amount of wind. Oh, Mother Nature how you tease of the coming months. I know better than to "fall" for it though. I know there will be a few more hot days before we can feel like Fall has officially arrived.
Seeing friends from the Bellingham Community Chorus was so wonderful. It felt as though it was just yesterday when we parted ways after our May Concert. Oh, I have missed those Tuesday night rehearsals when we all get together from every part of the county, but with one common goal in mind...to make beautiful music together. If you have never been a part of a musical ensemble, then you have missed out on one of the most unique experiences I have ever had the privilege to be a part of.
Fall brings us back together again and friendships are picked up right where we left off. New friends join us and begin the journey down that path to a finished project that results in making us and our audiences happier and healthier.
Yes, I did just say healthier. The research is our there folks. Music, and even more so singing in a choir, can help you become a healthier and happier person. To quote Chorus America.org, "Greater civic involvement, discipline, and teamwork are just a few of the attributes fostered by singing with a choral ensemble". Another great publication, Science Daily, states, "Singing in a choir for just one hour boosts levels of immune proteins in people affected by cancer, reduces stress and improves mood, which in turn could have a positive impact on overall health, a new study has found". These, like so many other published research documents prove that singing is and should be something everyone participates in for their health. I'm so glad that I do.
It's that time of year again when we all are thinking about how in the world we are going to possibly fit everything back into our schedules for the Fall. Parents are Back-To-School shopping and frantically registering their children for classes outside of the school day. Teachers are preparing their classrooms and anxiously waiting new students to walk through their doors. Fall sport coaches are training their teams for that first game of the season. After School Programs are gearing up for full enrollment in their enrichment offerings for children who need extra care while their parents are at work. It is all so much to take in and yet we all participate in this annual ritual in straight lines without complaining. It is what we do.
And....as seasonal musicians and community educators, we too join in the Fall fun. A peek into our lives would show you conductors sitting at the computer researching the latest and greatest choral music that we want to present to our choirs. Accompanists sitting at the piano playing through the music the conductors are looking through and enjoying the feel of the ivory keys playing challenging music again. The Directors and Board working tirelessly to plan the calendar of rehearsals and concerts, registration strategies for the upcoming season, and budgets, so we can afford to provide all these wonderful services for the community.
The Whatcom Youth Choirs is new to Bellingham and we are full of anticipation to see how the enrollment process goes. The Bellingham Community Chorus is starting it's 26th year and we can't wait to see all of our friends return to a season of making music together. Come out and see just what all the fuss is about. You might just want to stay.
Wow, that's a really long name for an arts organization. And your acronym is BMEP. Not very catchy, I know. It was a long process trying to decide the perfect name for our new non-profit and for some reason this one just stuck. First and foremost we needed the location, hence Bellingham, although we serve the larger Whatcom County community.
Music was a given. We are about making music, learning music, creating community through music, loving music and of course appreciating all genres of music.
I love the way the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines enrich.
- to improve the quality of (something) : to make (something) better
- to improve the usefulness or quality of (something) by adding something to it
When we are providing an enriching experience, we are improving the quality and usefulness by adding something to it. How awesome is that? To be part of an experience that will provide a supportive atmosphere for improving something about yourself. Notice I didn't just say improve your singing. Yes, singing is very important to a choir, but when you are making music together with others, so many other things begin to evolve and improve in yourself. Singing in a choir creates teamwork and comradery. The tasks of blending and balancing voices opens your mind and ears to others outside yourself. Finding that music is a universal language brings people of all walks of life together in one place for one common goal.
Moving on to project...I love the way one of our board members described this, so I'll share that with you. She said that the word project infers active and ongoing. I love that statement. We are all works in progress and as we come together to work towards creating beautiful music with our singing voices, we never stop learning and growing towards that common goal. Our singers will learn something new about themselves and their musical capabilities each time we meet together.
I am so excited to be a moving part in this new organization and I cannot wait to get started with the Whatcom Youth Choirs.
With a song in my heart,