Photo by Frankie Thornhill, member of the Digital Photography Interest Group
Contributions from Louise Dormaar, John Orian, and Edna Einsiedel
“Where words fail, music speaks”, according to fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen. This has been especially true during these challenging COVID19 times as music playing and singing have been flourishing among CALL members. Without skipping a beat, various groups have continued to meet, play instruments and sing virtually through Zoom.
The “oldest” group has been the ukulele group which began in Louise Dormaar’s living room six years ago as a beginner class. The uke group moved to cSpace about four years ago, accommodating 50 to 60 enthusiasts. Their yearly sing-alongs have become a CALL fixture until this year but the Saturday morning get-togethers are on-going via Zoom. Uke group members also spearheaded the successful uke festivals in 2018 and 2019 and an organizing committee is making plans for some version of a festival in 2021 that will likely be virtual and can engage local talent as a way of assisting the local musical community.
A Blues group organized by John Orian started to meet in 2019 on Saturday afternoons and has continued via Zoom since mid-March. The learning components of the Blues sessions have been rather innovative in their use of talented local musicians for teaching songs and techniques, peer learning, and their use of technologies (Dropbox for storage, Vimeo for streaming video demonstrations).
Other musical interest groups have been “spawned” from the original group. Greg Black who has been playing the bass ukulele or bass guitar with the primary Saturday morning uke group offered “A Taste of Bass”, expanding the number of bass players available. “Bass Practice” continued with Leanne Siebert while Marlene Lester started a “Guitar Group”. Meanwhile, Greg Black ,who plays multiple instruments in Get Reel, the house band for the Celtic Folk Club, also started a CALL “Song Writing” group which continues to meet virtually.
An ‘open mic’ which started in January 2020 continues via Zoom, with the second and third one “Zoomed” in early May and early June. A special Canada Day open mic will be held July 2. The open mics have also featured original compositions by a few members (see photo).
Patricia Gillrie is singing and playing her original piece "It's all about that bass and having grace" at the May Open Mic.
Another off-shoot in CALL’s musical garden is the singing group helmed by Ruth Mauel whose original proposal for a Coffee-chat-via-Zoom which would include an occasional sing-along was accepted by CALL’s board. As an outline for this activity was being developed, “it became obvious that the Sing-along needed to be its own group”, according to Ruth who had previously been busy with the Treks and Travels planning group. The “Sing-along for Joy” Tuesday afternoon 45 minute initiative has had a number of enthusiastic volunteers carrying out hosting responsibilities including Tyrone Lester, Lynn Whittingham, Louise Dormaar and Patricia Gillrie. Different instruments including guitars, a bass, some ukuleles, have made the singing even more enthusiastic, highlighting the potential of music as a resource for health and social care during these pandemic times.
How to keep that adult brain sharp? Music lessons, singing and playing in groups or individually strengthen our cognitive abilities including our working memories. By concentrating on sheet music, thinking of the next chords, focusing on rhythm, singing, and strumming to the beat, our brains are kept sharp. The stress relieving benefits, the creativity, confidence-building and sense of achievement, and the introduction to a supportive community have all been identified as among the benefits of group musical activities.
When: July 2, 7–9 pm
The CALL Ukulele group has been meeting online since the big “P” – pandemic – and have started a monthly online singalong/open mic! We’ve had a lot of fun and want to share it with the rest of CALL!
If you have an instrument or would just love to sing along, all you have to do is click on the Zoom link at about 6:55 and join us! A songbook will be published and you can either print it or just view it on your iPad or computer and then you can join in the singing and playing. It’s not quite the same as singing all together, but for now it will have to do! We are also compiling the Happy Appy Recipe Book – which will be available online, so please email Nancy at email@example.com if you would like to submit a recipe for the book!
Register by 5 pm on June 30 and you will receive the Zoom AND Songbook links so you can follow along – singing and playing from the comfort of your home!
You must be a member of CALL and sign on to your CALL account to register
Have you been itching to dive into the ukulele community, but aren’t too sure how to start?
Is there a ukulele sitting in a corner of your house gathering dust?
Now is the perfect time to pick it up – a small group lesson will be happening every Saturday morning on Zoom – imagine learning this great little instrument from the comfort of your own home!! Normally we offer this class in-person, but with current circumstances we will have to modify somewhat to be able to offer this.
This is only for beginner ukulele players… we will be starting at the very beginning, no musical experience necessary!
You will be learning the basics and be able to practice by yourself and with others during the week. Online resources will be sent out every week, and starting in the first week we will have a mid-week Zoom meeting one-on-one with the instructor so that you can ask any questions that may have come up or if you need some clarification or a bit of coaching!
Some of the basics include: learning the parts of the ukulele, how to tune your instrument, 4 chords, simple strumming, reading tab and a little bit of music theory… We will be playing and singing “together” but you will only be able to hear the instructor and play with her…
Once you have completed your intro, you will be ready to join the bigger Zoom group that currently meets every Saturday…and in no time play and sing along with the Open Mic.
If you want to see what the group is up to, register for the next Open Mic (first Thursday of every month 7 – 9 pm). Next one is July 2. Click on this link for more information and to register: https://calgarylifelonglearners.ca/Singalong-with-the-Uke-Jam
What do you need:
Ukulele – tuned to GCEA (Please do not leave this step until the last minute as we will be needing it starting class #1.)
Tuner - available to buy, or you can download a free tuner onto your smart phone.
Need to be able to connect with the group on Zoom – a link will be sent out prior to the class starting. Both Audio and Visual — a camera of some sort — will be required. Most computers, iPad and smart phones have something like this built in.
Dates: August 8, 15, 22, 29
Time: 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Size of class: min 4, max 8.
Must register and be able to come to each class.
Instructor: Louise Dormaar – been teaching ukulele for a number of years, mostly through CALL and other non-profit groups. Former Director of the Calgary Ukulele Festival (2018 & 2019).
by Sally Shah
In January 2014, Susanna Koczkur and I held the first meeting of Our Lives, Our Stories, a memoir writing group. Our reason for launching this group was quite selfish: we needed deadlines and support as we worked on writing stories about our own lives. We'd met on a course at U of C and wanted to continue with what we'd learned there. Neither of us was a writing teacher; people who joined us often knew far more about writing than we did. Both of us knew how to run a group. It took several meetings before a core group of writers was established. Members have come and gone over the years we've been running, but we still have some who've been with us since the beginning.
As the first group grew and developed a waiting list, Pat Hogan, the coordinator of Arts and Humanities at that time, decided to start a second group in the fall of 2016, and a third group in January 2017. In January 2020, Group 4 was set up and is still meeting despite the challenges for a new group meeting over Zoom. Each group takes a slightly different approach to running sharing their writing.
Our members tell us that they need deadlines and incentive to keep writing; they enjoy the feedback from others. We develop a fellowship which it is hard to imagine coming from any other activity. We do improve as writers and become better storytellers. And can there be anything sweeter than hearing: 'I want to know more!'
by Sheila Robinson, member of Our Lives Our Stories Interest Group
Gazing out the window I muse about what to write for the upcoming OLOS session. The bird feeder is a busy destination this morning, including for a pair of undulating goldfinches, first I’ve seen this year. I watch two young deer (what is it with deer, you never see them coming, they just seem to appear) nibbling away at the succulent new flowers on the dogwood bush; now they meander over to the dianthus patch, which they seem to enjoy as well. Shall I shoo them away? No, I guess we have enough to share. White tail or mule deer?; must look them up.
Is that the home phone ringing; no one ever calls on the home phone….
C: Hello Sheila, it’s Cory here. We haven’t been in touch in a while, so I thought I would give you a call.
S: Uh, sorry, do I know you?
C: Cory Corona, the virus that has you locked down, remember me?
S: Oh yes, hello, so you are still out there? I GUESS…. it’s good to hear from you…?
C: Yes, I am still out here, trying to keep everyone in their place, and on their guard. Ha, ha, just kidding- I do get carried away at times, no pun intended. Anyway, you wrote two pieces about you and me—you do remember? The first was in March describing your travels and travails in getting home from Europe. I’m afraid I created a bit of anxiety- sorry about that. And a second one in April, after three weeks sheltering in place. In that piece you reflected how, thanks to me, you learned to be grounded while being grounded. I felt pretty good about that one.
S: Oh yes, I remember. Wow, has it been another two months already? June twelfth—I guess it has. So, what is the purpose of your call?
C: Well, with this much additional time passed, I was wondered how you are feeling about me now? What is going on, if you are willing to share? Has my presence caused other effects I can feel good about, or are things more difficult? Or perhaps you are fed up with me, want to kick me to the curb, so to speak?
S: I see. Well, you do realize this has been a bit of a difficult relationship, right? I’m certainly not ready to welcome you into my home, for example. And I am not exactly excited to know you are still around, I need to keep you at arms length, well actually two arms length, away. However….
C: Yes, yes, go on, what’s in the “however”…?
S: Well, I’m surprised to say the situation has become somewhat normalized…. Some days I hardly remember you are out there—thus my hesitation when you called… “Cory who?” I’ve apparently adapted to the changes and seem to be getting on with this new life just fine. Pretty proud of all the things I’ve learned. Just think—I can now manage the grocery store without anxiety and without touching produce, and always breathing into the shelves. And I finally have a seamless system to sanitize everything with bleach spray once home. I can also successfully line up for curb-side pick up. I can follow arrows, stand on circles, wear and care for masks, automatically measure social distance (bike or hockey stick length, car width). Not bad, eh, being old and all?
C: Yes that is impressive, I have to admit.
S: In addition I am aware that I now have a daily home routine, a new thing for me, as I am used to spending much of my day out and about with people and events.
C: Really? What does your new routine look like?
S: It includes an early morning walk with my tea during which I greet the birds and lately track the local goslings growth, a meditation, breakfast, and often a Zoom yoga class. Then to the computer for various “to-dos”, toe dips into news, and Zoom meetings; then some time gardening and talking on line with family and friends. Dinner with the family, we each have a designated cooking night, and the odd game or movie night, and now immersed in a Hilary Mantel tome, befitting of any pandemic.
C: So, what do you think of this new found routine in your life?
S: Never thought I would say such a thing, but I think I like it!
C: I’ll take that as a positive, for now. Don’t you miss some of the things you use to do outside the home?
S: Yes and no. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that you have caused some previously normal things have become quite extra-ordinaralized, and thus oddly more valued. Funny creatures, we humans. As I sat in my car last week waiting to be escorted into my oh-so-sanitized hair salon, I felt quite privileged that I managed to secure an appointment for a haircut—hallelujah! Hair-stylists were the most sought after people in Calgary at the end of May, and my stylist certainly enjoyed the status boost. I guess you could take some credit for that.
C: Yes, I will put that on the positive side of my ledger.
S: I do miss my friends, of course. Also last week I had my first experience of getting together with a friend, in 3D person! Another normal occurrence turned extraordinary. I often have a sense of joy ahead of seeing a good friend, however the several days’ anticipation of this “distanced walk” on Nose Hill was really something special. We walked and talked, enjoyed the profusion of golden bean, 2 hours of rich time together. It would have been longer yet if the spectacular dark clouds and impending rain hadn’t driven us off the hill! Much better than a Zoom call!
C: That does sound pretty special. Heightened valuing of time with friends—I’ll put that on my positive list.
C: So you must be excited about Calgary moving into phase two of the re-opening. Are you rarin’ to go out to a restaurant or a theatre with friends?
S: Whoa there! Not so sure about all that. For me it all seems a bit pre-mature. That sounds more like an opportunity to cozy up to you, not exactly enticing. And there are all those at home tasks I thought I would get to, not to mention sourdough baking. I need more time for my culling, de-cluttering, clearing the decks agenda.
C: Oh, I see, so you would prefer for me to hang around a bit longer? I could do that!
S: I wouldn’t go that far. Nothing personal. To be really honest, what your presence has provided is a “pause” for me and maybe all of us; an opportunity to reconsider for example, how I choose to spend my time going forward, regardless of your lurking menace.
C: Oh, I see, so it’s about you, not about me. That’s disappointing.
S: It’s about way more than me. The “pause” you have provided is ripe with possible societal pivots—for example, to address the climate crisis, to address systemic racism for black and indigenous people, to work toward a just and green post-Covid recovery. So you see, it IS about you, your legacy perhaps to create bridges of collaboration on global issues.
C: Oh, that feels better, puffs up my chest a bit. Thanks. I think I will check in with other OLOS members. Good-bye.
I hung up from this very strange call—imagine Cory Corona wanting to check in, good grief! Did I daydream this? No matter, it had got me thinking. I am aware that in the last two months I have occupied my life, in my own home and garden, in a more embodied way than in the past. I am at home with being at home. It feels precious, this refuge for body and mind that has evolved, and I am reluctant to give that up. Going back to “my life before Covid” seems like I would be doing a disservice to what I have learned. I watch the swallows riding on the wind and commit to making this a thoughtful and deliberate process, this re-entering the world.
As CALL is growing we have need for more people to help maintain the quality of what we offer. Take some time and get involved in CALL… meet new people, develop new friendships while providing valuable help.
There are still openings for volunteers for board positions and others to keep CALL programs going. Please check the Volunteer listings and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can contribute.
Volunteers are the backbone of CALL. We sincerely thank all of our dedicated volunteers who have contributed and who continue to contribute in making CALL such a wonderfully diverse and interesting organization! We are truly lucky to have such a rich range of life experience in our membership. Your time and talent is immeasurable. Simply put… without YOU—our volunteers—CALL WOULD NOT EXIST!
The CALL membership year is September 1 – August 31, but we have always encouraged new members to sign up and take advantage of a special deal that extends their membership from May 1 to September of the following year. This year we are also extending the invitation for current members to renew at any time after May 1. The membership Team is well organized and will be happy to accept and process renewing memberships as well as new ones at any time after May 1.
The CALL Newsletter is our way to communicate what is going on in our community. Usually we communicate to members about upcoming events, however, since all CALL gatherings are postponed for an undetermined period of time, we decided to use the newsletters as a way to ‘peek behind the curtain of CALL’, to give some general information about CALL groups and members.
You are invited to send your ideas and suggestions for future issues to email@example.com. Let us know what your Interest Groups are doing and your strategies for coping with this situation in which the whole world finds itself. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity; not every submission will necessarily be published.
Meanwhile, be well, stay well in every sense of the word.
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