Fun happens when friends get together to sing.
“Spreading joy through music gives meaning to my life,” says Jerry Jeffreys, one of many “best friends” singing in the all-volunteer, mixed-voice choir, Just for Fun Singers.
The Salem group started in 1993 with about a dozen members, and has grown to almost 80 members between the ages of 58 and 90, singing everything from religious and gospel, to folk and Broadway hits.
“The music schedule is based upon three terms,” says Dick Hohnbaum, general manager of the singing group. “The winter term from January to March, we learn a new set of music built around a specific theme decided by our director, Judy Dyer. The spring term from the first of April until the middle of June, we perform the program that we learned during the winter term. Our only performance during the summer is at the Oregon State Fair where we have performed for 12 years on the Oregon Community stage.
Just for Fun Singers meets from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Fridays, First Christian Church, 685 Marion St. NE, Salem. Tuition is $40 for each of the fall, winter and spring quarters. The group does not meet during the summer, and no auditions are required.
Just for Fun Singers will perform at the state Capitol at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 as part of the 35th annual Holidays at the Capitol.
More than 100 choirs with upward of 4,000 performers will participate in the Holidays celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday, ending Dec. 23. Go to oregoncapitol.com to view the choir schedule and other special events coming in 2017.
For more information on Just for Fun Singers, visit justforfunsingers....
“Our fall term starts the first of September and goes through December,” he continues. “We learn a set of music with a Christmas theme with which we perform during the month of December. The only exception is that we are featured at the Christmas tree lighting at the Salem Conference Center in the last of November.”
The group sings for civic groups, community events, retirement centers and at the state Capitol’s Christmas concerts. Each summer, the Just for Fun Singers take a musical tour for five or more days, Hohnbaum says.
“We have been on a 15-day tour in Europe, and have also had musical tours in Seattle and Vancouver, Wash., Medford/ Ashland, Roseburg, Bend/Redmond and Eugene,” he says. “We enjoy singing together and sharing the joy of music.”
Hohnbaum says the group’s mission is to bring music and joy to people who can’t always get to musical performances in a concert setting, keeping their lives “enriched, healthy and active.”
“It is always when we perform that we receive more pleasure and benefits and self-satisfaction and joy than we can ever express,” says Hohnbaum, whose favorite songs include, “On Eagles Wings,” “Homeward Bound” and “Roll on Columbia.”
“Sharing music is a wonderful experience,” he adds.
Clair Ickes says he is “participatory” proud.
“There is no need for a great voice,” he says. “Willingness and desire are more important.”
Retiree Ivy Partridge joined the group to keep busy and make new friends.
“I really love music and being able to sing with great friends,” Partridge says. “I had heard good things about Just for Fun Singers, so I decided to find my way into a rehearsal. I have rarely missed a rehearsal or performance in the 13 years since.”
“Spreading the Joy through Music,” the group’s mission, makes Partridge feel good, she says.
“When we perform and light up the faces of our audience, it encourages me to continue to do my best,” she says. “Being part of the ‘Funner’s Band’ also contributes to the wonderful sense of accomplishment and camaraderie. Not to mention our excellent director, Judy. She just makes it fun for all of us, never singling out any individual for criticism, but encouraging everyone to get it right.”
A retired school social worker, Jeffreys decided to give the group a try when his wife showed him a newspaper article about the choir seven years ago.
“Could I possibly pick up where I left off so many years ago?” he asked himself.
“Well, the answer is yes and much more,” he says. “The singers in my bass section were supportive and helped me get oriented. Now I have many dear friends in the choir and have also learned so much about music and singing. It has become one of the key parts to my life.”
Jeffreys says singing familiar songs at assisted living or retirement centers makes people happy.
“Some recent research has shown that our bodies secrete a unique chemical when we sing,” he adds about the benefits. “It’s sort of like endorphins when we exercise. It makes us feel good.”