SHARING JOY Spreading the joy of song to others is something we all strive for as Barbershoppers. The Tacoma TotemAires happen to practice at a venue that is across the parking lot from a dialysis center. After a quick phone call to a nurse at the facility, the Chorus confirmed that the folks inside receiving treatment might benefit from a few songs. So, that’s exactly what they did. Around 30 members popped over before their weekly Chapter meeting for a quick visit. During the performance, the chorus received a number of smiles, thumbs up, and applause from not only the patients, but also the staff. Ed Gentz, Chapter President, states: “You can really make a difference in someone’s life through song. What we did here tonight benefits the patients, and it also gives us a boost to see people light up with joy.” You can see the video from this visit here: https://youtu.be/fUV606ZTZbM
Best Christmas Gift Ever!
Classic Sound was singing a Christmas show in a retirement home when I noticed a woman slumping in a wheel chair at the very back. A man, obviously her husband, was stroking her hand. At the end of the show I made my way back to speak with them. He told me that his wife had suffered a stroke 6 months previously and lost the power of speech. With tears in his eyes he said that when we sang Christmas Carols she sang along. He said it was the best Christmas gift he had ever received.
Is Muffin here?
We received a paid request to sing two songs to “Muffin” for Valentine’s Day. We pulled up to the “Auto Body Shop” garage and stepped around the multiple fenders and bumpers to make our way to the office, fending off the strange looks from all of the workers.
As we peeked into the one-desk room filled with papers older than most of us, we saw a 6′ 2″ behemoth with a scruffy beard and a cigar stump in his mouth.
I meekly asked, “Is Muffin here?”
“Who wants ta know?” he growled.
I smiled and said, “We have a singing Valentine for Muffin!”
He looked around and said quietly, “. . . I’m Muffin.”
Four loud “gulps” were uttered, and then we gamely sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to Muffin, while all of the workers piled in to listen. After the second song we beat a hasty retreat through the yard and were on our way to the next stop, happy to have made it safely back to the car!
Santa Monica Oceanaires
The term “Magical Moment” refers to the emotions that frequently are created when a Barbershop quartet sings to people in unusual locations and for special occasions. Some of the stories below may cause you to look for a tissue. Some are very funny. If you want to learn more about how words presented in music connect with the human spirit, watch the video about Henry below.
Please Share Your Magical Moment
I’ll never forget
A few years ago, my quartet “Solid Ground” was asked to sing at an Alzheimer Support Group event where about 30 early-onset Alzheimer and dementia patients and their care partners would attend, perhaps 60-70 people in all. Almost all were husbands and wives. The organizers requested, given that most of the people attending would have been young adults in the 50’s and 60’s, that we sing music from that era. We specialized in that era so I selected several songs from our repertoire that I thought would feel “warm and fuzzy” to these couples: You’re 16, Happy Together, Wonderful World, Lion Sleeps Tonight, Pretty Woman, Rhythm of the Rain, Only You, Under The Boardwalk, Stand By Me, Lean On Me. Many songs I hoped would have a particular resonance for the patients as well as for their loving spouses in attendance beside them.
The songs we chose were a hit. The reception we received was warm and genuine and the interaction we saw between the patients and their spouses – the loving glances, the holding of hands, the arms around one another, the heads gently touching together, the nods of recognition as we began each song – were wonderful to witness. The number of people who sang along with nearly every song was also fun to see. Knowing that our efforts were so appreciated and effective at reaching these particular people reminded us why we sing in the first place.
That would have been magical enough but there would be more. At a social afterwards, one lady came up to me and clasped my two hands in hers. She said to me “I wanted to thank you personally and tell you something special. Tonight you made my husband cry, and he never cries. This was the first time he has been able to cry since the diagnosis. I think he is finally coming to terms with what we know is ahead. Those songs perfectly expressed how I feel about him, especially Stand By Me and Lean On Me.” Then she added this last bit that landed like a bombshell: she explained, with a broad smile and a sparkle in her eyes I’ll never forget: “By the way, I’m the Alzheimer’s patient!”
A magical, even life-changing, moment indeed – for her and certainly also for me.
Solid Ground quartet
Snow Delay … or was it?
On Valentines Day my quartet had 17 paid deliveries and we sang 10 more times just for the joy of sharing with others.
But one of our 17 deliveries was impossible to make because of how deep the snow was. So three weeks later, in warmer weather, we knocked on the door and said Happy Valentines Day when it opened. The recipient was a woman in her 40’s and she was pleased that we came.
While we were singing, the woman and I locked eyes for most of the time. This has never happened to me before, to have such a personal connection with the person.
When I got home I was again pondering this and realized that only my wife and our daughter were women I expected to be able to focus on this way for such a long time. And then it hit me –
Exactly one year ago exactly this week our daughter Karyn died of cancer. And then the tears came as I considered that singing valentine to a stranger to actually be a wonderful gift to me.
Keith Eckhardt, Bass of The Chord Peddlers quartet
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD On Friday, April 21st,2017, I joined Dick Swanson, who sang bass, Dan Tangarone on tenor, and Bob Schmidt, who sang baritone, to sing for Jim Owens’ memorial. Jim was a very good friend of Dick Swanson’s, and many of us Barbershop singers will remember him as well.
At the social gathering after the memorial, someone asked us to sing another song and we sang “What a Wonderful World.” Dennis Black was there. Many of you will remember him as a longtime Skipper and Northwest Sound member. He has Alzheimer’s and did not recognize any of us. However, we decided to ask him to join us in singing “What a Wonderful World.” From what I could see and hear, he got pretty much everything right. It was fantastic to see him sing again.
I have heard of this sort of thing before, but never experienced it firsthand. Music is very powerful, and can bring back deep memories in people, even though other memories may be gone.
Magical things happen when music is involved! One of the tenors from my chapter was hospitalized in serious condition. We went to sing to him, not knowing if they would let us into the ICU. When we opened the ICU area doors we were stopped and told we couldn’t come in, but when we explained that we were there to sing they cheerfully invited us in. We really surprised our friend, sang two songs (with the hospital staff applauding), then started to leave. But a nurse for a different patient came to ask if we would sing to her charge, a young man in his late 20s who was obviously in pain, so we sang Irish Blessing and soon he was sobbing. As we said goodbye, through tears he said “Thanks, that was just what I needed.” Keith Eckhardt, for Group Therapy Quartet