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.

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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!

Lodging Options for Gathering

 

Hooray! You’re coming to our 2019 gathering. For your planning purposes, we have reserved blocks of rooms at two very different hotels. In addition to these, there are many options to rent a home or room through Airbnb and VRBO.

These often cost less than the hotels listed below and could be the best option for those coming in groups. Be sure to check locations though, as Tucson extends many miles in the valley and we expect you’ll want to spend more time singing than driving!

The Homewood Suites by Hilton is located at St. Philips Plaza, only seven minutes drive from St. Francis in the Foothills Church, our primary gathering place. The hotel is a 20-30 minute drive to Southside Presbyterian Church (depending on traffic) where Saturday evening’s community sing will happen.

A free shuttle bus is available for guests from 7Am to 7PM, as long as the destination is within five miles. (The airport is not.) St. Francis in the Foothills is within five miles, as well as multiple shopping and restaurant or cafe options. The hotel offers a free hot breakfast and an evening social reception Monday through Thursday, should you decide to extend your visit. It is adjacent to St. Philips Plaza is an upscale area with small shops, a coffee shop and three restaurants as well as the Rillito River Trail, a 130+ mile walking and biking path around the city known as The Loop. Bike rentals are available at the Plaza and there is a lovely Artisans Market on Saturday and a Farmers Market on Sunday at the Plaza as well. Trader Joes Market is within walking distance.

Homewood Suite rates of $167.63 per night (this includes taxes and fees) will be honored until March 12, for reservations between April 10-16th. To reserve by phone call 520-577-0007 and mention the code TTC. You can also reserve online by entering TTC under “add special rate codes.”

Hotel McCoy is a completely different animal! This classic 1960’s motor hotel
reopened in September 2018. It has been completely renovated with a lighthearted, artsy, vintage vibe. Paintings by Tucson artists cover the walls, inside and out. Tucson is celebrated with local beers, coffee, and even parking spaces named for Tucsonans of note.

Community spaces include a pool, cedar sauna, game area with ping-pong, foosball and more. For breakfast, you’ll find a complementary oatmeal bar with toppings. Gathering participants may get a 15% discount by mentioning the code CHOIR 15.

Up for a pajama party? Three rooms in the hotel have two sets of bunk beds each. They are on hold for us until March 1st. Of course, you can find king and queen bed rooms as well. Some king rooms open into the bunk bed rooms if your group wants more space. The 15% discount is honored as long as rooms are available. Hotel McCoy is a five minute drive from Southside Presbyterian Church were the community sing will be held Saturday night and a 30 minute drive to our daytime gathering location at St. Francis. Downside? Finding places to walk and eat requires hopping back in your car or catching a ride via Uber or Lyft.

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.

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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.