BTS News — August 2019

Hello, Dear Friends of Bellingham Threshold Singers,

The Singers have a new “home,” and have increased the number of trained sails and anchors in the months since the last newsletter.

Jerns Funeral Chapel, where we’ve been meeting for years, moved from its long-time location at James and Sunset, to 4131 Hannegan, Suite 106, and included us in the move. We are grateful for our long relationship with Jerns and for their including us in their new facility. Our first rehearsal there was in June.

During the location transition, we held two rehearsals in alternative spaces: one at Fairhaven Park, where we reviewed what we call “familiar songs”—songs not in our regular repertoire that are sometimes requested at the bedside. These include hymns and gospel tunes, children’s songs, Christmas carols, popular songs from decades past, show tunes, folk songs, and even country western. Sometimes our clients want to hear a song they recognize, and this may be especially helpful for those with dementia.

Our other transition rehearsal was in a member’s house. After eating a scrumptious potluck dinner, we sang whatever we felt like, with no agenda other than enjoying each other’s company. We know the rewards of singing to others, but singing for ourselves has enormous benefits. A recent article notes: “When we raise our voices with lots of other gorgeous voices … it feels like we’re altering molecules…. Well, according to various scientific reports, we are altering molecules … inside our brains, with different changes occurring whether listening to music, singing, or singing with others.”

And here’s some other good news: “Our voices don’t have to be ‘professional strength’ to derive these myriad health benefits…. Singing even at an amateur level was beneficial to people’s emotional, physical, and cognitive well-being.” Yes!

Some numbers for you.  The most recent class for Sails had 9 participants, one of whom is already sailing in the community. Seven took part in Anchor training,; 2 were renewing their training, and 2 are new Anchors, now gaining hands-on experience. As of August 2, we have sung at 274 bedsides at 166 locations this year (more than one bedside per location). We continue to add new members.

The Crow’s Nest has been adapting and adopting governing documents so that we are aligned with best practices of the International Threshold Choir’s chapters around the world, of which BTS is one. More guidelines will be coming.

Our repertoire has been revised, reflecting additions of new songs, and putting aside older songs that are infrequently used at bedsides. We also have a few songs that we sing just for ourselves—our sisterhood songs.

The past months have been transitional, moving to a new rehearsal space (but still maintaining our closeness to Jerns), looking at our “rules,” and adding more Sails and Anchors to continue the vital work we do. Change is a constant, and BTS is in step.

Enjoy the summer that has finally bloomed!

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