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Jun 21: Songs In Your Body On This Land

We'd like to welcome People of the Global Majority (Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Color, and Mixed Race) to these monthly song cir...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SHH, Dec 4, 2011

  • What:  Sing Heavenly Harmony, a.k.a. SHH, in the Library - a contemplative, reflective, meditative singing flash mob.  You'll walk away a little clearer and more connected to your heart. 
  • Where:  O'Shaughnessy Room 108, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, University of St. Thomas, NW corner of Summit and Cleveland Ave, St. Paul, MN (parking)
  • When:  late afternoon on Sun, Dec 4, 2011.  The room is reserved between 4-6 p.m.  SHH may be the first hour or the second, but not both.  We'll update this as soon as details with the videographer are finalized.  (What's this about a videographer?UPDATE:  SHH will be at 4 p.m.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gratitude blogroll 2011

Points of Light Music is grateful for many things this year... Here's the list as I know it (and many apologies for anyone omitted). 

Song Level ($1,000+)
Stanza Level ($300-999)
Verse Level ($100-299)
  • Marta Barnett
  • Henry Borchardt
  • Karen Mateer
Phrase Level (under $99)
  • Anonymous (3)
  • Sarah Bowman
  • Al Bostelmann
  • Ruth Goettig
  • Lucy Heegaard
  • Will Hale
  • Ana Hernandez
  • Karen Hogan
  • Glenda Huston
  • Rochelle James
  • Janice Kragness
  • Theresa Krier
  • Sarah MacDougall
  • Julie Robinson
  • Jan Sedgewick
  • LeeAnne Watkins
Note-worthy Level (non-financial)
  • All my CCLI fellows, especially lab partners, Barry and Sheronda, and mentor Sandy
  • All my Friendly Streets Placemaking artists, especially Molly
  • All the good people in the Hamline-Midway and Frogtown neighborhood associations and the St. Paul Fair Lending Coalition, especially Jun-Li, Alan, Lily, Sam, Dave, and Needham
  • All the staff at AseraCare Hospice, especially Renee and Ruth
  • All the members of Grace Notes hospice choir
  • All the AseraCare Hospice patients, their families, friends, roommates, and caregivers
  • All my fellow Morning Star Singers, especially Barbara, Rena, Jules, Kris, Jessica, and Jeanne
  • All my colleagues at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, St. Paul
  • All my colleagues at the University of St. Thomas Libraries, especially Julie for scheduling Sing Heavenly Harmony (SHH!) in the O'Shaughnessy Room
  • All my peers and mentors in the Music for Healing and Transition Program, especially Marcia and Melinda
  • All my Dances of Universal Peace partners, especially Hakim, Zahir, Francis, and Will
Infinite Silence Level - The beginning of all things, which without it would make all of the above null and void. 
  • The blessing of being placed on this earth with the skills to bring awareness of the suffering and pain surrounding us and the gifts to share joy, comfort and compassion at this time.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

SHH Updates

Tomorrow afternoon I and others (I hope you!) will be Singing Heavenly Harmony, SHH-ing, in the library.  Checkout this post for location details. 

We're switching lightbulbs in December.  Instead of Dec 11, we are rescheduling to sing earlier, on Dec 4, so SHH doesn't compete with Barbara McAfee's Singing in the Light event (see her Schedule).  If you have an opportunity to check it out, Do! It is where SHH was and many other voices are nurtured into their fullness.  The December 4th SHH will be at the same bat time, 4-6 p.m., and at the same bat place, the O'Shaughnessy Room (108) of the O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library at the University of St. Thomas. 

In 2012, we're setting up permanent lamps for SHH on the first Sunday of the month except when the library's closed.  Like Sun, Jan 1, 2012.  It's likely SHH will shift to the next open Sunday.  Check back here to see where the SHH spotlight will land.

Share this blog with others.  Subscribe to the newsletter in the right column.  Sing and make music every day!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Upcoming Fall 2011 Sing Heavenly Harmony dates!

Another Sing Heavenly Harmony (SHH!) season begins!  Jot these dates on your calendar, invite a few others, and come prepared to make a little noise with that voice of yours!
  • Sun, Oct 9, 5-6 p.m.
  • Sun, Nov 6, 4-6 p.m.
  • Sun, Dec 11, 4-6 p.m.
SHH will commence in the O'Shaughnessy Room of the O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library of the University of St. Thomas (map). 

I am excited to share that the good folks at 3-Minute Egg: The Twin Cities Arts Seen will be joining us for one of these community sings.  When that date is finalized, I will pass it onto you! 

Blessings!  C~

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Savoring moments

Last night Grace Notes sang to a woman who glowed in the presence of her visiting husband and daughter.  She didn't speak but her eyes and face spoke volumes of the innocent joy of basking in the attention of family.  Words of encouragement and comfort tumbled out of our mouths to them, for them.  Her guests were so appreciative saying that music helps move through the clouds, reaches deeper to connect with the person they love and remember.  After savoring deep hugs of gratitude and strength we parted. 

Tonight I am savoring the generosity of 18 friends and family who made my first fundraising attempt a success. You went beyond the bounds of my imagination and I am so grateful.  With your support I can dream bigger dreams for bringing music for healing to those in need. 

The impact this can make is awesome.  Join us on this journey of savoring moments.  It's just beginning.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

threshold of generosity and gratitude

24 hours ago I was sweaty with dread and doubt.  Okay, the sweaty was more a circumstance of weather and my insistence in not turning on the A/C.  The dread and doubt were real though.  What if no one supports this work?  What if my threshold for doing this work has been maxed?  How foolish will I look?  Will I ever be able to lift my head high again?
Four hours later, back from the evening's activities I check email and am overwhelmed.  A few friends decided to be contributors.  Generous contributors.  More generous than I would ask.  And I am grateful.  So very grateful.  We passed the halfway mark easily and reached the three-quarters mark.  How would we reach the threshold of my goal? 

In less than 24 hours, you, my beloved supporters of Grace Notes, have demonstrated true generosity.  And even went a little beyond the threshold I set.  And a different little voice inside me says, Why did you doubt? 

Perhaps you were following this little Zen heart sutra:  Gate Gate, Para Gate, Para Sam Gate, Bohdi Svaha.  (Translation:  Go beyond, Go beyond beyond, Go beyond beyond towards enlightenment) 

Why is it I (or do you hear a little of yourself in this too) lower the expectations of myself, friends, family, co-workers, everyone, etc. to stave off disappointment?  Shouldn't we be holding each other up, reminding each other of our best selves? 

So to that end of reminding you and me of our best selves, I am extending the Razoo goal back out to the original budget amount of $6,360 (yep, I lowered it to my bare, bare minimum to ease the disappointment -- the difference seems so insignificant now!) and invite you to be generous with the gifts you have to offer, beit writing prayers of support, in-kind offerings or financial gifts.  The threshold is less than $75 away...

What will my gratitude feel like when your generosity have matched that threshold and gone beyond?  Stay tuned. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Woyaya, part 1

For the folks from St. Mary's --

Someone suggested we sing this song to our High School graduates on their Send Off Day.  The words fit the occasion filling them with confidence without the sugarcoating.

We are going,
heaven knows where we are going,
but we know within.

And we will get there,
heaven knows how we will get there,
But we know we will.

It will be hard, we know
and the road will be muddy and rough,
but we'll get there,
heaven knows how we will get there,
but we know we will.

Woyaya (translation of African:  So be it!  Amen!)

Many of you may know the Art Garfunkel version, http://youtu.be/viwERI295zU.  Did you know there's a wide variety of versions on YouTube?  Check out these... 

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Last week Grace Notes sang for a gentleman who captured our attention even though he wasn't on the AseraCare roster.  Perched on his wheelchair in the middle of the hallway he was getting our attention saying "Help Me!  Help me get out of here!"  If you're familiar with dementia units in skilled nursing facilities you might recognize this scene. 

We decided to stop and sing to him between our planned visits.  Someone suggested "Breathing In, Breathing Out" (see words below) and we started to surround him with sound.  A few of us moved to stand in front of him and do simple choreography to the song from Kairos Dance Theater's Dancing Heart program.  I noticed a change in his breathing - it seemed clearer.  His eyes grew wide as he watched and listened without speaking.  We wrapped up the song and were quiet for that moment afterwards where everyone is still present to the moment, listening for the last vibrations, unsure we would get another chorus of suffering and sadness or a sign of appreciation. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

From good to great

Grace Notes has been doing amazing great work in the five months since the first rehearsal in January.  We have sung to over 100 songs to 50 patients.  If we included all the folks who were present and listening, i.e., family, friends, and nursing staff, the number easily triples because we found ourselves singing in a common areas from time to time.  Woohoo!  Read some of our stories here and here

Monday, May 30, 2011

Creative Aging Around Town (more details)

Minnesota Creative Arts & Aging Network (http://www.mncaan.net/)

TOPIC THIS MONTH: Using Art for the Good of the Community

1:00-3:00 P.M.

Winnetka Learning Center
7940 55th Ave. No., Room 117-118
New Hope, MN

Loren on Park Writers Group creates community understanding and dialogue about racism.
Grace Notes hospice choir serenades people who are emotionally and physically fragile at the end of life.
Story Theater community education volunteers bring readers theater into the schools.

Free. No need to pre-register. Just come.

Please invite anyone with an interest in unleashing the artistic creativity in people 55+.

(repost of MnCAAN.net email)

Upcoming demonstrations & presentations

Grace Notes is honored to present its work with a few organizations this June 2011.  You are welcome to come and listen to our songs and story at the following:
  • MnCAAN's Creative Aging Around Town Event
    Date/Time:  Wed, Jun 1, 1-3 p.m. 
    Location:  Winnetka Learning Center, 7940 55th Ave. No., Room 117-118, New Hope, MN (map)
  • Capital City Grief Coalition MeetingDate/Time: Thu, Jun 16, 5:30-6 p.m.
    Location:  St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church, 100 North Oxford St., St. Paul, MN (map)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

For HK and all baseball lovers: Take me out ... to that field of dreams

For Harmon and all other baseball lovers on hospice services:
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowds.
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack.
I don't care if we ever get back
Cuz it's root, root, root for the home team
If they don't win it's a shame
And it's one, Two, THREE strikes, you're Out!
At the old ball game! 
Grace Notes sang this song for a gentleman last week because he was clearly a Twins fan.  Twins blanket on his lap.  Twins cap on his head.  The social worker guiding our singing rounds wasn't sure if he'd want singing visitors, but he was out in the hall investigating the racket we were making around the corner when we found him.  How could we not sing "Take me out to the ballgame?"  He and his other resident buddies were tickled pink by our antics.  The nursing staff seemed to enjoy themselves too.

While hospice services are a sign that the end is near, it doesn't mean that all is drear.  Everyone starts to grieve for the future that won't be coming, but that doesn't mean you can't continue to live life to the fullest and check lines off the bucket list.  Those dreams can happen ... they just need a little modification.  This gentleman wasn't able to get to the field as often as he might have once upon a time.  Using our imagination we were able to bring a bit of it to him.  How might you fulfill some dreams for someone? 

See you on that field of dreams ...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Grace Notes Update, 5/13

Thank you for visiting the Points of Light Music (PoLiMu) blog!  Here's a quick update on Grace Notes, a hospice choir partnership between PoLiMu and Asera Care Hospice.  Sit back for a moment and enjoy!

We have been blessed with so many meaningful moments – from smiles of engaged enjoyment to sweet snores of sleep. This is music to our ears … just like it is to parents of a fussy baby. Here’s some stories:
  • We sang “Ya Jamil,” a gentle Sankrit round about the beauty of God, to a woman who was a voice major in her younger days. When we ended, we realized she was humming with us … and so we sang it again so she could continue.
  • A few of our recipients have since passed through the veil since we started our singing visits in February 2011. It is not often than we encounter someone very close to the veil when we sing though. A few weeks ago we sang for a gentleman who seemed at peace, though his breathing was labored. We sang to him about journeys. Later we would find out that he completed his earthly journey about 24-hours later.
  • And then there are the stories we could tell you about other second-hand listeners! Most of the people receiving services from Asera Care reside in skilled nursing facilities. Some non-hospice residents spontaneously decide to join our band of singers on rounds to the amusement of the nursing staff. Oh, and the staff smiles we see. Some are coy and some are gratefully enlightened for the service we provide. It is like watching the sun rise change your mood!
We have 8 lovely singers committing their Monday evenings to learning songs in rehearsal and visiting these folks and I have the wonderful privilege of leading them in this project. I am especially grateful to Renee and Ruth from Asera Care for partnering with me on this adventure. Check out the attached picture of a few of us at our first sing!
This project would be difficult without the generous support from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Yes, Grace Notes is one of the benefactors of the moneys set aside through the constitutional amendment we, the people of Minnesota, voted for on November 4, 2008. We received a $5,000 Community Arts Award to cover 80% of the costs to start and implement this hospice choir. Half of the remaining 20% was donated by people like you who believe in the hospice philosophy of caring for the whole person in all their physical, social, spiritual and emotional needs until the end of their life.

How about you?

Can you financially support this project? A $25 contribution will provide a 20-minute sing for someone on hospice services and you can dedicate it in loving memory of a loved one. Because Points of Light Music and Grace Notes is a sponsored project of Springboard for the Arts, a nonprofit arts service organization, your contribution is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Contributions can be made online at http://givemn.razoo.com/story/Polimu. If you prefer writing a check, please make it out to “Springboard for the Arts” with “Points of Light Music” in the memo line and contact pointsoflightmusic@gmail.com for mailing instructions. 

Thank you so much for your interest in the work of Grace Notes.  We’d love to hear from you!  We are so honored to be doing this and feel so grateful to be in your company for this sacred work.  Come back and read about our adventures soon!

Monday, May 2, 2011

When there is light, beauty, harmony, honor ... peace

When there is light in the heart,
There is beauty in the person.

When there is beauty in the person,
There is harmony in the home.

When there is harmony in the home,
There is honor in the nation.

When there is honor in the nation,
There is peace in the world.

~ Chinese Proverb

The song melody I'm hearing in my head is of Sweet Honey in the Rock.  And you can hear a clip of it on the Amazon.com (I would share a You Tube version if I found one - sorry!).

Elizabeth Alexander has also composed an arrangement of this proverb (with minor changes to the text -- gotta love the morphing process called the aural tradition!) and it has been set to a photo montage of Obama's first 100 days (You Tube). 

Two different interpretations.  What interesting counterpoint to the original reason I was thinking of the song. 

This morning I heard about the death of Osama bin Laden and the stories in response to the news.  And I am saddened.  Partly because I am always sorrowful when people die unfortunately.  Even those that done bad things.  You can say I'm a Pro-Lifer and a Pollyanna - always seeking the best in people and in each situation.  I will not deny that I look for the healable moment - where some bit of hurt in some one's past is transformed into grace and understanding.  And that's why I'm sad.  I believe that Osama was hurt in some deep way and that propelled his actions.  Not that I condone his actions and am willing to let him off easy - I don't and am grateful I never had/have to decide how to judge him. 

More saddened because of the response in N.Y.C. and D.C.  It shows me we have a long way to go in finding caring, capable and sustainable communities.  Or perhaps I am realizing this work will be eternally ongoing because each and every life's cycle goes through a period of claiming it's self-identity where issues are black and white.  The healing transformation I seek unifies us, brings us back to wholeness.  How we are more alike than different. 

So I look to song to help me express the inexpressible.  To help me understand. 

I appreciate both arrangements of these words.  They're both lovely.  Alexander's arrangement synchronized with pictures of Obama's first days are well suited for the joyful hope of a promising journey.

In this moment, Sweet Honey's tune of this Chinese Proverb resonates with me more fully.  It's slow spiritual melancholy carries my sorrow of this incident and the hope for every person and every nation. 

May songs find you to accompany your day. 

Blessings.  C~

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Am in Need of Music

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

By Elizabeth Bishop, American (1911-1979)

from:  http://www.poemhunter.com/elizabeth-bishop/biography/
Thanks Deb for sharing this with me! C~

Monday, April 4, 2011

notes of grace moment

Grace Notes has sung at the same nursing home three times over the last five weeks while my volunteer coordinator contact at the hospice was in transition.  The sweetest thing about this has been observing some of the subtle and sometimes not so subtle changes in those we see. 

Four weeks ago, we sang for a gentleman who was hunched over in a wheelchair, hardly lifting his head.  Two weeks ago we sang for him and he met our gaze with an energetic tongue.  Though it was a bit disturbing, we sang a few songs to him with our usual unswerving kindness and love. 

Tonight, we found him in bed.  He seemed relaxed and glad to see us, willingly turned off the TV with his remote and quietly encouraged us to learn Danny Boy and When Irish Eyes are Smiling.  My fellow singer and I sang only part of a song to this gentleman, because his roommate was on the phone reporting that his roommate had minstrels!  I think the roommate was envious that he didn't have musical visitors.  Our gentleman gently gave us the non-verbal cutoff sign and apologized for his roommate's behavior.  He seemed to enjoy our visit, even though it was short. I have enjoyed seeing him more engaged each visit. 

That's tonight's top Grace Note.  Stay tuned for more stories...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

You're invited to FEAST!

Do you like art in its various forms? (or just particularly supportive of hospice choirs)?
Do you really like food?   (or just need to eat from time to time)?

Then you'll like FEAST!  Pencil it on your calendar:  6-9 p.m. on Sat, Mar 5, 2011 at the Eagles' Club in South Minneapolis, (25th and 25th)

FEAST stands for ...

Artists with

and is a public dinner where attendees like you get to eat with a few artists while learning about their community art project du jour.  Before the night is over you get to vote for your favorite community art project from a field of ten.  The winner of the most votes takes home the admission proceeds (a pay what-you-can, suggested donation $10-20, though no one is turned away for lack o' funds structure) to apply to their project and returns to the next FEAST to give a report on how their funds were used.  Cool, huh?

Grace Notes, the Points of Lights Music project hospice choir in partnership with AseraCare Hospice, is one of the 11 community art projects slated for the March FEAST.  Come on out and support this hospice choir -- we need all the help we can to do well at this democractic event so feel free to extend the invite to co-workers, family and friends interested in the arts and/or sustainable programs. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Points of Light Music awarded MRAC grant

[Apologies to all for the belatedness of this announcement...]

In December 2010, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, http://www.mrac.org/, awarded Points of Light Music a $5,000 Community Arts grant to run a hospice choir project between January and May 2011.  Points of Light Music is one of 63 organizations to recieve awards that demonstrate strong artistic quality and a response to community's needs. 

This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

More updates will be forthcoming about the project's progress.  To read about the call for singers, see http://pointsoflightmusic.blogspot.com/2010/12/invitation-to-join-hospice-choir.html