Introductory Session 5.4.19

If you happened to be at the Community Sing led by Melanie DeMore on April 13th, we are so glad you joined us! Tucson Threshold Choir made this event happen and invited the community to experience how we can ‘Lead with Love’ through song!

Threshold Choir International (TCI) is an organization that makes kindness audible. Our local group is one of over 200 chapters of the now worldwide 501(c)(3) that is TCI. We offer comfort through singing songs at bedside in small groups of voices, for those in hospice care, those who are healing, those facing challenges and their families or caregivers. When invited, usually two to four of us sing quiet messages of love, life and heart for tender threshold times. Our voices are our gift, there is no charge.

We welcome singers who can carry a tune, listen well in order to blend their voices with others and convey kindness through voice and presence. Interested in learning more? We are hosting an introductory session on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 4:00pm in the Ada Pierce McCormick Library on the UA campus at the Northeast corner of Highland and 1st Street, adjacent the Little Chapel of All Nations.

We look forward to seeing you and singing together!

Helpful Hints for Gathering Participants

If you’ve registered for our 2019 Threshold Choir Regional Gathering, we are so glad you’ll be joining us in Tucson for the weekend! You might have some questions simmering, so this post is intended to help provide some answers:

WHAT TO BRING: Tucson weather in mid-April tends to have highs in the upper 70’s or lower 80’s and lows about 50 degrees F. Temperatures in restaurants can vary widely too, so to stay comfortable throughout the day, plan to layer your clothing and bring a sweater, vest or shawl with you. Many folks who have registered are sensitive to fragrances, so please consider this as you pack. Bringing a small bottle of hand gel to use throughout the weekend would help immunosuppressed participants stay healthy too. Please bring a reusable water bottle, marked with your name.

If you feel moved to do so, we also invite you to bring something for our ‘Remembrance Table’. It could be a photo of a loved one, a quote, a small object, anything that would help you to feel grounded and present for the duration of the gathering. We invite you to place your item at the beginning of the gathering and to take it back at the end.


If you have an item that’s still wonderful and you’d be happy to release, not to return home with you, consider putting it on the ‘Treasure Table’ during the gathering, for somebody else to take with them and treasure. Items not retrieved by others will be donated to a local charity after the gathering. (Some of you may be familiar with this concept, involving small and easy to pack items like scarves, artwork, books, hats, jewelry or mementos.)

TRANSPORTATION: If you’ll be in town without a car and are staying at the Homewood Suites at St. Phillips Plaza, there will be a shuttle to get you to St. Francis in the Foothills for the gathering Friday and Sunday, but will be of limited to no value on Saturday. Since it is limited in availability and seats, we STRONGLY suggest carpooling to the gathering AND  coordinating rides to Southside Presbyterian on Saturday night for the Community Sing, or taking Lyft or Uber, as the Homewood Suites shuttle won’t cover the distance to Southside. (Their shuttle will leave every on the half hour from 7:30-10:30AM and then operates again at 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 and 7:00PM. There is no service on the hotel shuttle during daytime hours after 10:30AM or after 7:00PM.) For those of you coming and going from the Phoenix airport, there are a couple of shuttle services to choose from online.

DINING: At St. Francis during the gathering, we’ll have tea, coffee and water always available, as well as various nibbles. The only meal provided will be Saturday lunch: buffet style, with options for vegetarians, vegans, dairy free, garlic-free and tofu-free food plans. A light a la carte brunch with nibbles will be offered Sunday morning. Those who prefer to bring their own food will be able to keep it in the church’s refrigerator, as long as your name is clearly marked on the items. There will not be food at the Community Sing Saturday evening, so in the email participants receive, there is an attachment about many dining options for Saturday dinner and other meals during your stay.

ENJOYING YOUR VISIT: At the information table we’ll have set up during the gathering, you’ll find a booklet with local restaurants, a bike and walking map of the downtown are highlighting many of the wonderful Tucson murals and a Tucson guidebook. They’ll be available for use while you’re here. We ask you to return any you don’t want to take home so we can return them for re-use to their source organizations.

If all of this leaves you wondering about something not listed, feel free to contact either Barbara Richardson or Kristine Bentz whose email addresses will be on the email you receive directing you to this post.

Thank you and see you soon!

Community Sing!

Part of the Threshold Choir SW Regional Gathering buzz this April includes sharing what we do with the community, not just the gathering of threshold singers itself. We are SO EXCITED FOR THIS EVENT, we can hardly stand ourselves! Please feel free to join us and share this information with others who you believe may be interested in singing for an evening together.

All are welcome, no need to know how to read music or have familiarity with certain songs. While there is no charge, donations are welcome at the door. This is about inhabiting the music, celebrating our common humanity and lifting ourselves up in song while the mesmerizing Melanie DeMore leads and teaches us with her signature high energy and presence.

Melanie Smile

WHERE: Southside Presbyterian Church at 317 W. 23rd Street, Tucson AZ

WHEN:   Saturday APRIL 13th at 7:00PM

This clip of Melanie leading a choir and audience as they sing her song “Standing Stone” gives you a slight idea of her participatory style, yet just picture in the Southside Kiva style sanctuary, being in a circular seating format, singing together with Melanie in the center, not up on a stage. Gives me goosebumps already!

Melanie DeMore is coming!

Our choir is in the planning phases for the 2019 Southwest Regional Gathering and we are excited to share that Melanie has agreed to be our song leader in Tucson for the weekend. If you’re not yet familiar with her, we encourage you to give her work a listen. She is a brilliant vocal activist whose own website says it best:

Whether she’s performing solo, leading stick pounding workshops , doing residencies with choirs all over the country or teaching Sound Awareness to sixth graders, baby boomers, or senior citizens, one thing is certain: her mission is to make sure you unlock the key to experiencing yourself in all your Glory and return home with the very same excitement and passion for living that she herself has. When she comes your way, her energy will charge the very air you breathe like a meteor shower, so get ready to rise up!

Here is a sample of her voice, get ready for goosebumps!

2017 Update

Exciting update! We are an active choir – very active in singing bedside – although not always up on our blogging. Here’s news from this summer, as written by Jennie Boulet:

“A week ago, three of our Tucson singers returned from Threshold Choir’s all choir gathering in Portland, Oregon – a wonderful opportunity to be with 300 choir members from across the US and Canada, as well as singers from Australia and the UK!  (Threshold Choir International now has over 2,000 members and 153 chapters – with more new chapters launching soon.)

Consistent with the theme of “Strengthening Our Connections . . .  Savoring Our Song,” we sang and sang and sang, inspired by the richly talented Threshold Choir leadership and renowned singers and vocal coaches Melanie DeMore and Charles Williams.  We talked and shared and developed our skills in “making kindness audible” through bedside singing.  As one of the lucky attendees, I know there is nothing like having been there – but for just a taste of this delicious celebration, please check the recent posts at Threshold Santa Rosa Facebook Page.
And, as always, we welcome all interested to join us in offering (or receiving) the healing gift of song.”

Singing for Hospice Patients

When singing for people at life’s thresholds like we do in this choir, we often find ourselves singing for patients who are terminally ill, receiving care from a hospice team: physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, CNAs and volunteers. Many times a request for Threshold Choir bedside presence will come through a hospice volunteer coordinator, volunteer or social worker. A hospice patient for whom we sing may be living in their own home, with family members offering caregiving and presence. Or a patient may be living at a fully staffed residential care home, assisted living facility or hospice inpatient unit.

Threshold Choir members come by invitation to these settings, to ‘make kindness audible’, singing in small groups to patients and their families.

If you’re wondering, “what does this look like and sound like, singing bedside for a hospice patient?” This PBS piece created by KQED in San Francisco at the Zen Hospice offers you peek into our bedside role.

As the KQED piece is titled, Threshold Choir “brings songs of comfort to the dying.” Yes, we do. And not only to the dying, but to the people who love and surround them, as well as to ourselves. Singing this way is a reciprocal experience of comfort and life affirming presence.

Artwork by: Alan Binnie


2015 SW Regional Threshold Choir Gathering

IMG_0174-1Sing for nearly two days, straight??? Oh, you bet! And dance some, and eat good food, and share the company of lively, bright, compassionate souls – yes we did! In late February, as many choir members from across the southwest as possible gathered in Glendale, AZ for our annual gathering. It was hosted by the Phoenix West Choir, who did an absolutely graceful and extraordinary job of welcoming us with their creative embrace.

We learned new songs. Each choir shared some of their own songs or much loved standard songs with the wider circle. We walked a candlelit labyrinth at dusk, we shared in a community sing. It was all WOW. And here is a pretty darn good selfie of those of us who were there, glowing with the joy that singing brings you.

One of the most joyful things about singing in this choir is the blending of voices that occurs, the oneness of the sound, when we sing one line of harmony in a circle of 60 people or when we split into three parts.

It is honestly like no other experience most of us have had in our lives. And that’s saying something, don’t you think?

Here are some more images from the gathering, to give you an idea. If you are drawn to this service, what we call ‘Kindness made Audible’ – let us know – we’d love for you to come join us and see what is happening in Tucson.


Choir members offering and receiving songs
Choir members offering and receiving songs


Shadow Rock UCC in Glendale, where we gathered.
Shadow Rock UCC in Glendale, where we gathered.
Sunset, the evening of our Community Sing
Sunset, the evening of our Community Sing
Moonlit labyrinth walk.
Moonlit labyrinth walk.

Threshold Choir on NPR

If you listen to NPR, you may have already heard this story run during Weekend Edition yesterday. If you haven’t heard it, you can either give a quick listen through this link or read the audio transcript. It is a lovely piece about our Threshold Choir sisters singing for hospice patients in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nashville’s choir is fairly young. We’ve had a recent growth spurt in our eight year old Tucson choir that is very exciting and we keep welcoming new folks. If you just found us by googling and searching around the web, great! Please feel free to use the ‘contact us’ form on the blog and we’ll be in touch with you soon.

During our rehearsals, as we work on listening and blending our voices through our core songs, we are becoming more connected and committed to this work. It is true as one of the Threshold board members says in the NPR story, we are in many ways “reclaiming our humanity”. Simply by the acts of pausing, resting in silence together and then sharing songs during times of transition, we sense into being more present and more human, with each vibration of a new note.

Singing into Grace

Yesterday was a bright and sunny day in Tucson, balmy compared to much of the country who shivered with temps at or way below the zero degree mark. Six members of our choir gathered on the humble front steps of an adult care home to ‘warm up’ our voices for singing winter carols on what might have felt like a spring day to many folks. We went inside to find a semi-circle of elderly faces in the living room, some sleeping, some expectant, with a couple of caregivers present amongst them. Just what we hoped. We came to sing in honor of a woman who had recently transitioned in this home, to celebrate her life, and those who knew her and/or cared for her on her journey, all on behalf of her family.

We sang a few of our core Threshold Choir songs, yet realized quickly that on this ‘ninth day of Christmas’ the holiday spirit was still mighty present! We shifted into familiar tunes like Away in a Manger, Silent Night, Joy to the World . . . you know the stable of songs. Faces brightened, singing along opened up with cheer. Jingle Bells was likely the crowd favorite!

Then we went to the house next door and sang to a new group in the living room. One lady had a series of questions for us: “Where did you come from? What church do you go to? Do you know my minister?” I can see why she wondered from where on earth we appeared in her living room. Understandable! And as our ‘voice’ of the choir that day answered her questions with the response “we come from many faiths and our songs are written by members from various traditions or beliefs systems” – Baha’i to Jewish to Universalist to Baptist to well, you name it –  I stood in quiet awe of what Threshold Choir does across this country.

We sing from a place without faith boundaries for people during fragile times. We sing openly from our hearts. We let ourselves be vulnerable. We sing into grace.

And hopefully, from there we issue peace.

(And yes, we learn something every single time.)

Then, this morning my meditation reading catalyzed this post. It relates so well to our experience yesterday and this sweet inquisitive lady’s questions. The author of my reading, Mark Nepo, writes:


“Each person is born with an unencumbered spot – free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of  fear and worry – an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God. It is this spot of grace that issues peace. Psychologists call this spot the Psyche, theologians call it the Soul, Jung calls it the Seat of the unconscious, Hindu masters call it Atman, Buddhists call it Dharma, Rilke calls it Inwardness, Sufis call it Qalb, and Jesus calls it the Center of our Love.

To know this spot of inwardness is to know who we are, not by surface markers of identity, not by where we work or what we wear or how we like to be addressed, but by feeling our place in relation to the Infinite and inhabiting it.”

More and more through singing with Threshold Choir, it feels like we sense our place “in relation to the Infinite” because we honestly do stand at infinite thresholds. It matters little what faith we do or don’t bring into these spaces; what kind of clothes we wear or where we work. All that matters, really, is the grace we sing into along the way.

Threshold Choir on NPR Today

This is so exciting: you can listen to our founder, Kate Munger, being interviewed on an “All Things Considered” segment here. As I listened to the radio this afternoon in my kitchen, I felt my heart race when I heard Kate’s voice and happily began singing along with Threshold Choir sisters as the piece aired.

During this season of gratitude, a path in my life for which I am most grateful to walk is being a part of the Tucson Threshold Choir. (Based on recent emails to each other over the holiday, I think many in our choir would agree!) When Kate mentions in the story how singing bedside is more of a form of prayer than ‘performance’, in response to Arun’s question about it being kind of stressful, I felt tears well up in my being.

“Yes. Thank you, Kate!” I said aloud. And felt a huge swell of gratefulness to her: thank you for bringing the possibility of your songs to so many of us across this country.

Whether our choir rehearses together in the Little Chapel of All Nations or sings in an ICU hospital room, care facility dining room, inpatient hospice hallway or silent bedroom of a home . . . singing for the dying and their caregivers – or even sometimes for ourselves – is a tender experience. A delicate and sacred unspoken kind of prayer is woven throughout our songs.

Grateful for the path we walk in Threshold Choir
Grateful for the path we walk in Threshold Choir