10 January, 2008
It seems like such a short time ago that I wished you HAPPY NEW YEAR. September is the first New Year for those of us who are choir directors, school teachers, students, etc who have summer holidays. And now I’m wishing you HAPPY NEW YEAR in the Gregorian, Chinese and Arabic senses. Welcome to Part Two!
Thank you for the lovely gifts of flowers, jams, handkerchiefs, originally designed brow mops, books, gifts cards, cookies, wine, candy, candles and personal messages. I always plan to write the ‘bread and butter’ notes immediately only to realize that the intent of the note is simply to say ‘thank you’ for your thoughtfulness and your generosity. So Thank you.
During the holidays I deliberately took ‘time off’ to contemplate who I am, what I do, the woman I’m becoming, what’s most important in my life and what I want to do with the next forty years of my life. I turned off the phones, the computer, the mobile phone and the fax machine. I made wonderful food, drank my favourite beer and wine, read books and periodicals and enjoyed a few quiet meals with friends. I took myself on long walks. That means I went without a walkman, mobile phone or other possibly distracting electronic device.
I’m becoming aware that living this life can be much more than anyone could ever have even begun to communicate or have me understand twenty years ago. It is full of convolutions – personally and universally.
As much as I would like to deny it, parts of my life were ‘done out of obligation’. I’ve attended church, committee meetings, concerts, art openings, theatre performances, parades, served on boards of directors, stayed with a partner, worn my hair and clothes in a certain way and who know what else because I felt obligated. Then I wondered why I felt resentment. Duh!!!
So this year I made two resolutions. They are: to do my best and be content with it. And if I don’t like it, change it!
When you sang at the first ‘rehearsal’, my heart nearly leapt from my chest. Your commitment to singing lustily was already in evidence in ways that would bring smiles to the face and heart of any choir director. Your singing of those ‘silly’ songs provided me a near endless amount of important musical information. Thank you.
I always try to put myself in your place when I plan a concert. I do better sometimes than others.
I do, however, remember how terrified [YES!!! I have an understanding of how it feels to believe I hardly know my butt from a door knob and that I would expire if the director looked at me and asked me anything].
I have fond memories of my university choral director – Robert Paige- assuring me and all of us, at nearly every rehearsal, that we would be just fine and the music would be wonderful if we sang one quarter of the notes printed on the page with authenticity. Dr. Paige’s theory was one that all music was to be experienced first by the artist and it was that experience that was communicated to the audience. His goal was excellence. That’s mine too.
I’ve discovered there is a difference in the ways I behave when the goal is excellence than perfection. I shall choose excellence from now until my life’s end.
The choir membership at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA was heavily weighted towards those who’d chosen music as a career of some sort or other. I’d chosen music education because there was no such thing as a performance degree. I wanted to become the finest accompanist the world had ever seen or heard. I have absolutely no regret.
There were those who chose music library science as their major. At the time [I was eighteen], I thought ‘how totally boring a person must be to have that as her/his only choice – a librarian.’ Today I think I have an appreciation of librarians of any sort. I think about the time I drove into an auto wrecking yard and asked about a particular part. The man behind the counter had been a classmate of mine at Temple and could recite row and space for the part I needed. Major? Library science. He’d fallen in love with cars and found a way to have his university major work for him. YIKES!!!
Although I loved playing the organ, there was no part of me that could even imagine playing the pipe organ for a living. It was nothing I could fathom due to my limited pipe organ study, pipe organ playing experience and life experience.
So why am I telling you this? Well, I’m telling you this because I want you to know that my horizons are still limited by my experience. Although I know more ‘stuff’ than I did when I was eighteen or even ten years ago, I also realize that what I loved about being that age was the fact that I was endlessly curious, willing to take risks, willing to explore, and willing to be defiant if I thought that there was an illuminating experience to be had.
As a near sixty-four year old woman, I find I’m more that eighteen year old now than ever in that I want to continue to be adventurous. I want to continue to be willing to risk, explore and be defiant if there is the possibility that the experience will be illuminating and expand my horizons.
As we journey together through some very exciting repertoire during the next five months in preparation for the first closing season concert of this choir’s second decade, I am grateful to those of you who’ve returned, eager to serve you and filled with excitement. We’re going to make some fine music together.


FROM MY SEAT – Notes from the Piano Player

I had hoped to be able to publish a soiree schedule in this newsletter. Alas! I still have some parts of my other schedules to confirm. I’ll do my best to have a major portion of the soiree schedule confirmed by next month’s newsletter.


Each member receives ONE copy of each arrangement. That copy becomes your responsibility. You might want to put your name on your copy so it can be returned to you should you misplace it.
It seems that every once in a while it is a good thing for me to remind myself and you that I do have expectations. These are mine with respect to our Tuesday rehearsal time.
Please make Tuesday a scent free day. Please avoid smelly stuff of any kind.
Make sure you have a pencil that has an eraser with you. There are some pencils with erasers for your use on the WELCOME TABLE. The one you take is yours to keep.
Keep yourself well hydrated. Sometimes a lozenge can be a substitute for water. I recommend Ricola with Herbs. It’s simple, wonderful and it works.
I know Tuesday is an important social time for many of you.
The time from 7:12 PM until 9 PM is time the set for me to conduct a choir rehearsal with all its various parts. That means if there is business or greeting or anything other than singing that you need to do or make the deliberate choice to do after 7:12 PM, please do me the courtesy of conducting your business in the foyer.
Activity other than singing after 7:12 PM could be distracting to those who’ve chosen to engage in the rehearsal process. Thanks.

What do you do all day? What do you desire in your work life, personal life, play life, spiritual life and community life?
What are the things for which you are thankful? Just think about it!

VOCAL HEALTH NOTES (important note)

Your voice is the mirror to your soul. YIKES!!! It is the voice that conveys your feelings, health and mood. Keeping your voice fit might prevent premature hoarseness and wobbly speech. The vocal folds weaken as you age.
Habitual clearing of the throat can cause trauma to the vocal folds. Although it may sound gross, try to sniff and swallow phlegm.
Trying to be heard in a noisy place strains the voice. Next time move closer to the person with whom you’re attempting to speak and speak quietly.
Always try to find an alternative to yelling.
If you smoke, consider quitting since smoking can make the voice hoarse and unnaturally low. It can also lead to vocal fold lesions. Good news! A smoker’s voice can return to ‘normal’ within a year’s time.
Avoid forcing your voice into any unnatural position. Forcing the voice lower or higher forces the larynx (which has its own natural vibrating frequency) into an unnatural position and can create muscular tension in the back of the neck, vocal fatigue and permanent calluses or nodes on the vocal folds.
Whispering forces the vocal folds into an unnatural position. Yawning and humming relax the voice.
Notice that if you’re tired or vocal weary, it’s probably a good idea to STOP and REST.


A BIT OF HISTORY (to remind some and inform others)

Thirty two years ago I met a couple in Edmonton, Alberta. I was working for The United Church of Canada in a worship consultant role because the Government of Canada’s policy was that I could not work and receive a salary. I could, however, work and receive honouraria. So that’s what I did.
In any event, Don and Margaret Waldon had just arrived in Edmonton from the Maritimes. I was the first guest in the church that Don pastored. What a time?
We became and have remained friends.
Margaret has served as ‘music animator’ at Kamloops United Church and conductor of the church’s choir, ‘Folk of Note’. (They’re the folks who have welcomed many of us each October for a number of years.) In any event, Margaret recently announced her retirement. Her last Sunday of service at the church will be 22 June.
Last year, Margaret commissioned me to write an arrangement of Ann Mortifee and Michel Legrand’s piece “We Were Born to Live”. I completed it and presented it to her in October.
What I’d like now is to know who of you can commit to making the time to go to Kamloops this coming June?
I’m wondering if some others of you might like to travel to Kamloops to participate in the service and to sing the “We Were Born to Live” with Folk of Note at the worship service on Sunday, 22 June.
I’m thrilled to think there are those of you who have already planned to travel to Kamloops in time to join Folk of Note in rehearsal at 7 PM on Thursday, 19 June at Kamloops United Church, 421 St. Paul Street.
You’ll be responsible for arranging your own transport. Suitable billets will be arranged for everyone who requests accommodation.
There’s a black binder on the Welcome Table in which you can register.


What follows is some of the history as I remember it.
Lorne Walker spawned this ‘outreach’ idea for this choir over three years ago. His idea was to organize a benefit concert by this choir in Kelowna to raise funds that would contribute directly to the stated emergency needs of many Central Okanagan residents whose lives were dramatically changed as a result of the fires in the Central Okanagan in the summer of 2003. The reality is that Lorne was ahead of his time since it appears that most of the energy in the fire areas was focused on keeping body and soul together. As a result, the project was put on a burner near the back of a stove.
The OUTREACH portion is this.
After making the decision to return to Kamloops in June, 2008 to be present at Margaret Waldon’s last Sunday as music animator at Kamloops United Church on 22 June, I made a phone call to Beryl Itani who lives in Kelowna and is one of the coordinators of The Emergency Social Assistance Fund of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan. I told her about Lorne’s 2003 idea of our choir presenting a concert whose funds would benefit The Emergency Social Assistance Fund of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan. I suggested that the concert (OUTREACH) be held at 8 PM on Friday, 20 June at First United Church in Kelowna with the proceeds going to The Emergency Social Assistance Fund of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan.
The date has now been CONFIRMED.
Tentatively, the thought is for you to travel to Kelowna on Friday arriving at First United Church mid to late afternoon (by 4:30 PM), have a warm-up in the sanctuary, have dinner prepared for us and served at the church, present a concert and return to Kamloops Friday evening. Billets will be arranged for anyone who might chose to overnight in Kelowna.
We would sing in Kamloops at Sunday’s service and return to Victoria on Monday or whenever you’d planned. You’ve just got to consider staying for the party after the service.
If you imagine you’d have an enjoyable time making music with some of the members of your choir; making your own travel plans; going to a pub or two and seeing another part of the most beautiful province in the country – this may be right for you. This is an ‘unofficial’ choir project. We participate as volunteers. There is absolutely nothing mandatory (obligatory-remember that?) about this.

There’s a black binder on the Welcome Table in which you can register.
Visit your website: ,u> www.victoriagoodnewschoir.com , for more information than you might ever have wanted to know. News about postponed or cancelled rehearsals will be there.

Want to discuss something? Anything? Send a note: to info@victoriagoodnewschoir.com or talk to me directly. Thanks.

11 December 2007


I am writing today at fourteen minutes past two PM.
I want you to know how deeply appreciative I am to you for the spirit and energy you’ve given to the first half of this eleventh choir season. Thank you.
I want you to know how very much I enjoyed Saturday’s ‘Simple Gifts’ concert. Thank you. Thank you for being angelic heralds in Saturday’s first half of the concert. Thank you for trusting that I actually do have a vision.
I want you to know that I have received emails from four audience members thanking you for the ‘contemplative’ part of the concert. Each of them indicated that they had no idea how much they needed to have such a concert.
Thank you, Sydney Needham and Robert Ahad, for your individual contributions to Saturday’s concert.
And I want each of you to have the very best Christmas, New Year, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Season of Light you possibly can have. I want to think that you would fret about nothing. I want to think that each of you would be in a near constant state of gratitude from now until choir resumes on Tuesday, 08 January 2008 and every day thereafter. We are blessed, indeed.
Care for yourself as if you are the most precious being on the face of the earth.
Over the holidays I will be involved in the final process of choosing the repertoire for the second half of this eleventh season. Our closing season concert on 07 June 2008 – ‘ON BROADWAY’ – has captured my imagination. There is a near endless selection of on and off Broadway production music. And I get to imagine more surprises. YIKES!!!
I look forward to seeing you next Tuesday at CFAX and The Cancer Lodge.
What are you doing New Year’s Eve?