Whitewater Singers

There are only 8 sessions in WINTER 2019 and then the provincial government grant funding this will run out. If you have been thinking about coming out and joining the singing, come on ahead – there is always a welcome mat at the door.  TUESDAY EVENINGS – 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. The Winter dates are: January 8, 15 and 22; February 5, 12, 19; March 5,12.

WHITEWATER SINGERS Calendar Schedule.  Add these dates to your Winter 2019. We would love to welcome you.

Using a $3,000 grant from the Ontario Seniors Community Grant Program, the Riverview Club has offered a free fun activity to every older resident who loves to sing – not for performance – just for enjoyment. Singing helps breathing, stamina and uplifts the soul. Those who have come out have always enjoyed themselves. One such resident is Bob Grylls who writes in his weekly column the following. Thank you Bob.

Singing with Jazz

By Bob Grylls

October 25, 2018


When the Whitewater Singers debuted last May at the Westmeath Hall, I didn’t want to take part. The following week I was strong-armed into going by my partner Sheila. I have no regrets though and have been going ever since. The program isn’t half over yet and it welcomes any senior in Whitewater to join in to sing familiar songs, share the fun and maybe reveal a hidden talent.

You see, I believed all my life that I couldn’t sing but worse than that — I never even tried. Thinking back, I recall that my mother was a good singer – at least she said she was. My father, ‘no way’. And of course, I unfortunately identified with him and his resolve with his custom of ‘not singing’.

As the years and my waist expanded under my belt, I was always tucked away in the shadows, too shy and not brave enough to join in with the others expressing their voices in song. I wasn’t really in awe of them, but I was terribly envious. I wanted so desperately to be included, whether a small or large group, old or young, good singers or only mediocre. You get what I mean! Somehow, I couldn’t make that transition to become uninhibited enough to burst out in music like they did so naturally. Distressed about it all, I tried to deflect the hurt by telling myself, “At least I can write prose and poetry better than most of them!” It didn’t help one iota!

I began to explore the reason for being left outside the perimeter of anything musical, never merging into that circle. In public school, I was involved in everything except those popular St. Paddy’s Day concerts held in the old Town Hall. The whole school practised religiously for days for them, except for me and a couple of others who couldn’t sing, but why? Every presentation was packed to the rafters with the whole neighbourhood turning out. My small contribution was guiding last-minute arrivals to the few scattered seats still vacant like I did at the recent All Candidates Meeting in Beachburg, or like a gofer in a movie production – undetected as compared to the main performers.

I was reluctant to even try out my voice when I was alone or in church during hymns or even singing happy birthday to someone anonymous at MacDonald’s. Worse — everyone knew I couldn’t sing and they would make rude comments at the most inappropriate times.

Upon retiring back to Westmeath, I had the good fortune to have a part in a couple of comedy shows. I had difficulties with my lines, but I tell people it was planned that way – to seem even funnier! The shows included songs and I risked singing in one but low enough that no one could hear. It did clue me in about how nice it was to belong.

Then the Whitewater Singers prospect came out of blue like an unanticipated jackpot at a poker game. Still worried about being accepted, my concerns disappeared in a jiffy the first evening. This new measure of confidence and being unconditionally welcomed by our well-versed conductor clinched it. He knew precisely the key to motivate us when not in tune with plenty of the encouragement. Before long, I was singing to the best of my ability, good or bad, it didn’t matter. Why didn’t I do something like this years ago?

Each week we learned new songs of varied genres, usually from show tunes, some contemporary, swing or jazz and everything in between. We also did warm-up exercises to the scales. One class, I reached the highest note possible but it curled up my toes and man, did that hurt! Now being able to recognize rhythm patterns (two, three or four beats) is neat.

Some selections became group favourites; “Swinging on a Star”, “I Have a Dream” and “I Got Rhythm”. The song “All that Jazz” from the 1975 musical Chicago was challenging, yet once mastered, it became a favourite and was so much fun. The song used the 7th chord to create a unique musical effect while capturing the importance of jazz in pop culture.

Did the Whitewater Singers turn my life around? No! Did it set me on a new career path? No! What it did do however, was give me the fortitude to do what I always wanted, to have the self-assurance to sing along with others while having some of the most fun I’ve had in years.

If you are 50 years of age or older, give the Whitewater Singers a try on a Tuesday evening at the upstairs hall of the Westmeath Arena and find out what you are missing – what I almost missed out on!