|Back to Home||Feature Article - April 22, 2010|
Filling Arden with the sounds of musicby Julie Druker
It started like most good things do - just a bunch of people getting together to share something that they love to do. Back in 1994 a group of seniors would regularly finish off their meetings by gathering around a piano to sing a few songs.
Glee Club director Helen Praskey recalled, “We thought it would be nice to have something a little more formal and that is how the Arden Glee Club began.”
The Glee Club just started up its
14th season again after its regular three-month winter hiatus and the
38-member group is once again filling the Kennebec Community Hall in
Arden with the sounds of music.
The group rehearses weekly on Tuesdays
from 1 - 3:30 PM at the Kennebec Community Hall and have a repertoire
of over 100 songs, which include swing, contemporary pop, jazz, folk
songs, spirituals and show tunes.
Though the Glee Club is a secular choir and as a rule does not perform sacred music, some of their selections are very spiritual, like Simon and Garfunkel’s "Bridge Over Troubled Water".
Other favourites that the group performs are "Chattanooga Choo-Choo", "What a Wonderful World", "Catch a Falling Star", and "Oklahoma".
The group performs regularly at various
seniors’ centres in Perth, Merrickville, Northbrook and
At one time the club would offer paid ticket concerts but gave that up preferring to sing for free as volunteers. In Helen’s words, “It just felt better that way.”
The Arden Glee Club is a group of seniors performing for others, and like many seniors, some of the members have different medical issues. Helen does not limit her musical understanding to the music alone and she and a few members of the Glee club recently attended a workshop in Kingston with Dr. Jacalyn Duffin of Queen’s University, who gave a talk titled, “Music and Memory - What can dementia teach us about the brain.” It was there that she learned that music is one of the last senses to leave the body at the end of life, which, if nothing else, shows how deeply music can penetrate our beings.
Though Helen admits that the club takes up a good part of her time, for her it is a true labour of love. “Music is just in my very bones - it’s a part of me.”
Glee club members are not required to
read music and those more comfortable singing melody only can join as
lead singers. Membership is open to all and Helen encourages
interested listeners to come and listen to the group at their Tuesday
Audrée Tomkins is the group’s business manager and she takes care of the bookings, uniforms, and, as Helen adds, "She knows how to keep us all in line.”
The Arden Glee Club's next performance will be in May at the Lanark Lodge in Perth.