An new and unique means of musical expression is now available through the City of Red Deer.
The Tone Chime Choir for Older Adults begins on a weekly basis Jan. 23rd at the Culture Services Centre, with sessions running from 3 to 4 p.m.
The program is aimed at those 55 and over, and the cost is $64.
Tone chimes are a metal tube with a hammer, played by flicking the wrist, explained Teresa Neuman, community and program facilitator, performing arts.
The sessions will be taught by professional musician and music therapist Ashley Miller.
Neuman said Miller will have participants creating beautiful melodies and harmonies together, while enjoying the many health benefits of music-making.
Neuman added that Miller is a born and bred Red Deerian who went through the school system here taking advantage of dance and music opportunities and training her whole life.
“She then went on to take a Bachelor of Music in clarinet in Montana, a Masters of Music in Albuquerque and a Certificate of Music Therapy in Nova Scotia. She works as a music therapist with several local social agencies as well as privately.
“She also teaches dance, music and drama for Cornerstone and Tree House Theatre, several dance studios and Culture Services,” she said.
“She has experience with working many different types of people. And she’s excited that she will be able to blend whoever comes together into this lovely choir.”
Neuman added those with no prior musical training as well as experienced musicians will find a home in this group.
“It’s different from a hand bell choir in that the physical action that’s needed is less, and it has a bit of a gentler sound,” she explains. “It works really, really well for persons with physical impairments; it works well for those populations where physicality is an issue.”
The principle is similar to a hand bell choir, where each participant would hold one or two chimes of distinct notes.
The choir leader directs participants as to when it is time for them to play their note and/or written notation is used for those who can and wish to read the music.
Neuman said there are several benefits, including brain stimulation, motor planning and coordination, a sense of accomplishment and community and an increased sense of well-being.
“We wanted something that people with musical experience could enjoy, but that also people with no musical training at all could also do,” she said, adding the program runs for eight weeks, and will be followed by another session in the spring.
“The socialization piece is also really important. When we’ve had programs here for that age group before, that’s the big benefit they talk about afterward. It’s an opportunity to get out on a regular basis, meet some new people and have some laughs.”
Research has also shown a plethora of other advantages – from reduced blood pressure and reduced stress to increased respiration. It can even serve as a kind of gentle work-out.
“A lot of it is about the emotional and socialization aspects to it – the connections to other people,” she said. “Making music together always has so many uplifting benefits to it.”
The space and program are fully accessible. For more information, call 403-309-4757.
Neuman said the deadline to register is Jan. 19th.