Preserving and Promoting local history for the former Rideau Township
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Q) There must be some songs you dislike, or have tired of. What's your strategy for getting through them?

A) We haven't really tired of any of them, yet! We produced the song sheets ourselves 20 years ago and we only put in what we enjoy. The long ones are sometimes tiring, but never tiresome. It never feels like "getting through" - we always need someone to tell us to stop as we would likely end up playing every one on every page if no-one reined us in. It will be a long time before we tire of these events. And, again, every time the programme ends up being different, so it doesn't get boring.

Many attendees at the pot luck remarked on the spacious, accommodating facilities at Cornerstone Wesleyan - easily reached with ample, accessible parking. Very nice! We thank church staff and the congregation for sharing all that with us.

 Pre-dinner visiting.

The pre-dinner visiting and conversations were a big part of the evening.   We certainly have a broad cross section of experience and knowledge in the Society.  

A few closing thoughts: this correspondent would like to acknowledge RTHS President Brian Sawyer and his fellow board members for taking the society through another good year of activities and accomplishments.

Also, seamless as they may appear, Christmas pot lucks don't just happen! Behind each one is a handful of selfless volunteers who took charge of organization and set up. Please thank Ruth Wright and Susan McKellar for this year's party. Take a bow yourselves for the wonderful food and the swift post-party clean up. And thanks once again to Ken and Kathryn Holman for their generosity in leading the sing-along. A belated Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year to one and all.  

The book table for Christmas gifts.

The booktable was provided for Christmas presents for those difficult to buy for.

'Twas the season to be jolly, so forty members and guests gathered at North Gower's Cornerstone Wesleyan Church on December 12th for an evening of relaxed visiting and good food capped off with seasonal songs.

 It's hard to remember the exact chronology, but this was at least the second time Kars residents Ken and Kathryn Holman provided leadership for an RTHS carol sing-along. Besides skilled musicianship, the two also came with an essential ingredient for a successful group-sing: lyric sheets. (I don't know about you, but I can't go beyond the first verse of most carols without such memory aids!)

 Carol singing with the Holmans

Ken and Kathrlyn Holman provided the music for an excellent sing along.

The Holmans are frequently involved in these sorts of events, Ken in different choir activities and Kathryn as a lay minister. Here are some thoughts Ken shared with me by email:

(Ken Holman) We like to start with Jingle Bells because it is a classic secular tune that everyone knows the chorus to and few have ever heard the verses to. This prompts them to use the song sheets and it is the first one on the first page. And we like to end with the majesty of a religious hymn like O Holy Night because by then everyone has warmed up to the singing and to how I am trying to lead them, it has a lot of dynamics including a crescendo chorus, and we end the time hopefully thinking about the reason for the season. By the end of the time practically everyone is singing, and those who think they don't sing well can still do so with their voice lost in the voices of others.

Q) Which songs seem to be crowd favorites?

A) Every crowd is different, and so every night ends up feeling different because of the selection and the order that we sing the tunes. Because we are leading, not performing (something we stress at the start), the crowd ends up making the programme interesting just by what is and what is not sung by the time we finish.

Q) What are the hardest ones to sing?

A) The two with the Glorias in them because of the range from high to low and how it is sometimes hard to sing low notes when at the end of your breath. Actually, breathing dictates the hardest ones, but those end up with the most smiles when done: the Twelve Days of Christmas and Must Be Santa are examples. The effort makes it worthwhile when there is a lot of laughter when all is done. Some tunes have challenging chord progressions with changes on every syllable, but that just takes practice and focus. Some tunes have distinctive strumming rhythms.

The Christmas Pot Luck

Article and Pictures by Lucy Martin