August 27, 2016
Reflections on Singing Together
In her 2013 book Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others, author Stacy Horn describes how joining a community choir thirty years earlier improved and in many ways saved her life. Navigating a painful time following a divorce and dealing with depression and grief, she struggled to remember what made her happy earlier in her life. She remembered singing Christmas carols, and though she had never sung in any choir before, she discovered a community choir at a church near her NYC apartment. With fear and trepidation, she joined the group and realized she had found exactly what she needed. Imperfect Harmony explores her own experience of finding joy through singing with others, and lifts up scientific studies that articulate the many benefits that result from singing. Benefits fall into three categories: physical, mental and emotional.
Physical benefits include lowering blood pressure, increasing oxygenation in the blood stream, strengthening important, upper body muscle groups, relieving tension headaches and helping people with asthma and bronchitis breathe better. Mental benefits include strengthening neural connections in the brain and decreasing cognitive decline caused by aging.
Perhaps the most compelling benefit of singing together, at least for me, can be summed up in a statement from a British study: “When you sing, you cannot be sad for long.” Studies show that singing with others increases a person’s sense of well-being and social connection and decreases feelings of loneliness and anxiety. People who sing together truly become family and form bonds that may be difficult to describe. Deep connection to others provides an important component to help us through difficult times.
Are you ready? Wonderful! Plymouth offers two groups to make connections through singing together. Starting Sunday, September 11, Soul Choir, under the direction of Sari Breznau, rehearses 10 am, Sunday mornings in the Lounge. Plymouth Choir rehearses 7:30 to 9 pm, Thursdays, beginning September 8, in the Sanctuary. Note: Imperfect Harmony will be available for checkout in Plymouth Library after September 1.
Plymouth Choir announces fall season: Join the fun!
Plymouth Choir rehearsals begin in two weeks and new singers are welcome! We begin 7:30-9 pm, Thursday, September 8 in the Sanctuary. Join us for a Beginning-of-the-Season Choir Retreat Saturday, September 10. We’ll start with a potluck lunch at 12:30 pm in Hildebrand Hall and move to the Sanctuary for rehearsal 1:30-3:30 pm.
In addition to preparing choral music for worship, we will work on several major works this fall. At 2 pm, Sunday, November 6, Plymouth Choir presents an All Saints Concert featuring Morten Lauridsen’s hauntingly beautiful Lux aeterna. Christmas Sunday, December 18, we share John Rutter’s Gloria at 11 am service. And Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, we present Camille Saint Saën’s lovely Christmas Oratorio as an extended prelude to the 9 pm service, beginning at 8:30 pm.
Questions? Contact Wanda Griffiths, Transitional Director of Music & Organist: WGriffiths@PlymouthChurchSeattle.org
Making Friends with the Fisk
Plymouth members gathered before worship July 31 and August 21 to become better acquainted with our wonderful new pipe organ. We explored the instrument, its sounds and learned what makes our new organ so special. We have also made new friends this summer with people who came to worship at Plymouth so they could experience the instrument. Others made arrangements to drop by, hear and play the instrument during the week. All of these people heard from “an organist friend” they MUST come hear the new Fisk at Plymouth when they were in Seattle. Recently, an organist from Mannheim, Germany, introduced himself to me after worship. Visiting Seattle for a special project related to the school where he teaches in Mannheim, he was advised by another organist he should come to Plymouth. We had a lovely time getting acquainted, and he enjoyed trying out the Fisk for himself! Last Sunday I met with a tour group with participants from all over the country that is traveling the west coast by chartered train to visit organ installations along the way. I enjoyed introducing them to our Fisk and played organ music for them. Everyone raved about the instrument’s sound and the beautiful acoustics in the space. One couple lives in Gig Harbor and they are excited to learn about our fall concert series. Our first organ concert happens at 2 pm, Sunday, September 18, when organist Susanna Valleau presents music by J.S. Bach, Arvo Pärt, Pamela Decker and Charles Tournemire. You too can “make friends with the Fisk.” Invite friends and neighbors to join you for this wonderful concert; You’ll both be glad you did! –Wanda Griffiths