In 2018 I attended the International Threshold Choir Gathering in Boulder Colorado. Oh my goodness what a FABulous experience. I’ve been able to attend 2 other Gatherings in 2009 and 2014. Musical magic happens when Threshold Choir singers gather from all parts of the USA and overseas to sing together. We are joined as one by the songs we sing and the vision and focus of singing on the thresholds of life to bring comfort, love and peace.
Several of the workshops I attended on behalf of my choir, Sydney Threshold Choir, were:
Chloe Greenwood: Threshold singing at the Spiritual Community of Findhorn. The first European Threshold Choir started in the Findhorn Community in 2013 after choir leader Chloe Greenwood attended gatherings in Seattle and Vancouver. In this session Chloe will share some of the experiences of Threshold singing in a spiritual community, and invite attendees to share experiences if they feel that singing with the choir has led them to deepen spiritually. The word spiritual is being used in its broadest meaning, inclusive of all faiths and none, referring to the innate human need to be connected to something larger than oneself - something which we define as sacred or of great nobility. As psychologist Abraham Maslow said in his final book, "Farther Reaches of Human Nature", humans have a higher and transcendent nature, and this is part of our essence. Spirituality can include cultivating an awareness of love, beauty, deeper meaning, higher purpose, strong values and developing a calming and healing presence. Lovely to view Chloe’s video and hear of the experiences and focus of the Findhorn community. Felt very close to my own experience.
Kate Munger: More Singing with Kate: New songs, blending practice: a deep dive! If you weren’t with Kate in her earlier session Thursday, this would be a great opportunity! Always a highlight of any Gathering, Kate’s charisma and way with song creates a joyful union of voices with harmonies.
Kathy and Arnie Sparnins: Voices of Grief, Honoring the Sacred Journey (film): Voices of Grief explores the discouragement in our culture for the normal grief and mourning process while at the same time offering a new perspective on how to honor, transform and integrate our grief. The film is based on the interplay of teachings from contemporary authors, poets, and spiritual teachers coupled with the stories of our group participants as we companion one another in our group support work. Kathy Sparnins is the Executive Director and Co-Producer of the film. I bought this film back to share with the STC and to the general public in the future.
Kristin Masters: Compassionate Communication for Bedside Singers: We will play with the freedom we get when we listen for what matters to ourselves instead of hearing blame, judgment and demand. Attendees can expect short dyad practices interspersed with group engagement, all applied to real situations and hard to hear messages from their work in the choir. This won't attempt to teach an intro of NVC (Nonviolent Communication), but rather to apply principles and skills to try an approach different from those that have frustrated us in the past. Kristin has had choir members return again and again, learning something new each time, so come back and bring a friend. Kristin was a very welcome visitor to our 1stAustralasian Regional Gathering held in March 23, 24 & 25.
Lauren Lane Powell: Sing Until You Die: Does your voice deteriorate as you age? Can't hit the high notes the way you used to? Does your aging voice warble and lose control? Is it impossible to sing on key with a hearing loss, let alone sing softly? The answer to all of these questions is emphatically "No!" At least not when you're singing from your core! Remember how we laughed and screamed as an infant… perfectly! From the core!! BELOW the diaphragm using ALL of the waistline muscles! Sing Until You Die reminds your body how good it feels to sing as naturally as a baby laughs!
Breathe more deeply than you ever thought possible! Master vocal control! Expand your range in both directions! Add fullness and depth to your voice. Sing more and more softly with pure pitch and true tone! When we sing naturally, authentically from our core come we can ALL sing forever… or at least while we live! Lauren lost her brave battle with cancer shortly after the Gathering. She has left an incredible legacy of inspired fun, indelible spirit and songwriting. She was a joy to know.
Marti Mariette: Trio Training: How to Learn to Hold your Part in Multi-part Singing with Beautiful Blend: How do we learn to sing in harmony? Some of us seem to have been born with the ability while others have to learn it. We will do lots of exercises to build the ability to hold a part on your own and create a balanced blend of 3 voices. We will use language that promotes extreme kindness, owning the sound for the trio without pointing out individual “mistakes”. Make sure you come knowing one of the 3 parts to Tenderly Rain by Helen Greenspan and Equanimity by Kri Schlafer. (sound files for learning these can be found in the TC official repertoire at: www.thresholdchoir.org) Bring a recording device like a smart phone to use for recording and LISTENing. An excellent workshop with relevant practising of what we do and what bedside singing is all about.
Melanie DeMore: Stepping into Directing: Melanie will offer introductory instruction and coaching to help ease into song-leading and music direction. Designed for folks who did not attend her intensive session on Thursday. Workshop facilitator extraordinaire, Melanie’s charisma and love of singing helps to lift all of us to a new level.
Robin Rose: Deep Singing: We will greet the day singing chants and short songs with simple harmonies--both in and out of the repertoire--as a morning meditation, taking time to sink deeply into each song and savor its gifts. A beautiful way to start the day singing together as a morning meditation.
There were other workshops I attended where I gained a great deal of knowledge and experience. The ones mentioned above were highlights for me and my wish is that other members of Sydney Threshold Choir will one day be able to attend and feel the joy I felt in singing with 300 other Threshold Choir singers. A special mention for the evening impromptu concerts in the dormitories It was an expanding, uplifting, fun loving experience and one I will never forget.
Susie Nelson-Smith, Founding Member 2008