It is my good fortune to have as one of the choirs I conduct a group of senior adult singers. The ensemble is named PrimeTime Singers and it ranges in age from 60 to 95. Current enrollment in the choir is approximately 70 with an average weekly attendance of around 50. The attendance would be closer to 100% if it were not for the occasional illnesses, busy travel schedules, and grandchildren and great grandchildren baby sitting duties. The musical expectations from such a group are somewhat different from those of an ensemble of younger singers since there are the obvious adjustments that must be made in working with the aging voice. This is a subject I’ve discussed in a previous posting, http://mosingers.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/singing-with-an-aging-voice/, but it is not my subject today.
My subject today centers around the joy that comes from singing into our later years – a joy both for singers and for those of us lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with them. (Disclaimer: I may be the Director of the PrimeTime Singers, but my age also qualifies me for membership in the group!) There are a growing number of senior adult choruses around the country and it gladdens my heart to see this trend. Many of these choirs are associated with churches, but many also are community organizations. The PrimeTime Singers (PTS) happens to fall in both camps – it is a part of the ministry of Roswell United Methodist Church, but includes members from many other faith traditions, including Baptist, Catholic, Espiscopalian, Presbyterian, Jewish, and also from the community at large. PTS rehearses diligently for an hour and fifteen minutes weekly and learns a wide range of four part choral music – sacred and secular, serious and light. I am constantly hearing PTS members describe what fulfillment comes to them through the experience of learning new things, working together, laughing, and sharing with others (over 20 performances each season).
While aging requires that we slow down on some activities, and even curtail others, it is wonderful to know that singing need not be included in that list. We should keep singing as long as we can, and in many cases that can be until we draw our last breath. My earliest memory is being held by my 80 year old Granddaddy O’Neal. I was only 18 months old, but I can clearly remember him singing “Danny Boy” as we lay on the bed in which he would shortly die. It is actually a very sweet memory and reminds me of the importance of singing our songs until the end.