Franke Chorus provides healthy opportunity

  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Carol Peecksen, accompanist, and Anita O’Donnell, director PROVIDED

In August of 2013, Time Magazine published an article about the benefits to older people of participating in a choral music group. It said, “When you sing, musical vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape.” The writer, Stacey Horn, goes on to say that researchers are beginning to discover that singing is like an infusion of a perfect tranquilizer, the kind that soothes your nerves and elevates your spirit. This elation may come from endorphins that are released by singing. She adds that singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and probably more fun than working out.

The year is 2005: Drucella Smith, a resident of Franke at Seaside, didn’t know all this when she met with Mark Smith, the administrator of the facility. She had discovered that there was no opportunity for residents there to participate in a performance-oriented choral group. And so she began her crusade.

By the spring of 2008, the Franke Chorus made its debut with about twelve singers under the direction of Anita O’Donnell who laughingly says that the audience was very polite but suggested that the performers not give up their day jobs. By Christmas of that same year, the chorus had grown to 18 voices.

Currently, the Franke Chorus numbers around 40, both men and women, and is open to both residents and non-residents of Franke. As a community chorus, it provides a cost-effective QOL (Quality of Life) opportunity for interested persons. Each member contributes $5 per season to help with expenses. Other than that it is dependent upon contributions.

The members of the chorus would agree with the results of the research findings by Julene K. Johnson which state that “singing in a community choir as an older adult may positively influence several aspects of QOL. These results suggest that community choral singing may be one potential avenue for promoting quality of life in older adults.” Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

The next performances of the Franke Chorus will be on May 2 at 7 p.m. and May 4 at 3 p.m. in the Rodenberg Chapel on the Franke campus in Mount Pleasant. There is no admittance charge, but donations are accepted.

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