Various Veins

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Maybe you saw the candid shots of the Tillsonburg Senior Centre Singers in last Friday's Tillsonburg News, performing their first Mini Christmas Concert. You may suppose from the focused faces they are a sober bunch of men and women. Not so! I am one of them. If you look at the photo third from the bottom, Richard Lucas, Hank Harley and Bev Gale, at Bev's right shoulder is a grey-and-white striped triangle. That's my left shoulder.

The singers did smile a lot while belting out familiar lyrics, and the banter between leader Rachel Parker and her husband Jack as she remarks in the article, kept the audience laughing.

As I've grumble many times, being hearing-impaired I never hear those witticisms when the speakers have their backs to me.

Jack is the wind beneath Rachel's wings, as she says. Jack plays multiple roles, court jester to release tensions when we can't get a musical passage up to Rachel's expectations, supplier of music for us who have lost the pages, cheerleader when we get things right. On concert night he saved me from embarrassment. When I dressed at home, I looked for my black bow tie and coloured pocket hankies. Searched my house thoroughly. Still haven't found them. When he heard my query for a loaner, he generously removed his own and put it on me.

A young woman pinned a red ribbon with a bell on my shirt pocket. From a distance it was sufficient.

The choir provides family for many of us. We enjoy that briefly during the minutes before we get down to rehearsal, during brief coffee break, and after practice. On Sunday, Nov. 15 we had a catered turkey dinner at the Centre. Delicious food, no dishes to wash, fellowship at the tables. Perfect.

Kristin Vollick from Waterford filled the room with the liquid sounds of her Celtic harp while we ate. Her instrument is manufactured in Canada. The vibrations set in motion by her fingers are electronically converted to radio signals and sent by way of a cable to speakers in an amplifier some ten feet away. This created a puzzle for me. I knew the sound came from the amp, but try as I might, I could not tell it wasn't coming from the harp. I tried looking directly at the amp. The sound seemed to come from my right, where the harp sat.

This sort of phenomenon happens in other situations. My OPP son has told of witnesses who said under oath they saw things that were blocked by a brick wall from their position. It's the reason he always looks for tangible evidence.

I feel very fortunate to have been able both to hear the music of Kristin's harp and her words as she spoke of her life and described the intricacies of the harp.

Do you know that a piano has a pedal to damp the strings you don't need anymore. A harp has no such pedal and so the strings continue to send tones until they die away. This can produce muddy sounds. The harpist can damp a string with a finger if need be.

Kristin's first harp had no amplifier. She placed three microphones to pick up a mix of sounds. She said today if she sneezes we won't be scared by the sound.

Kristin has played the harp for 15 years. She began her musical life with piano. Ganglions in her wrists forced the change to harp. She's a country lass. Her ganglions were fixed when a horse gave her arms a severe jerk. Today she plays several instruments including tin whistle.

She has five children, spread over a number of ages, youngest I think about one and a half years. She thus has interests in education that deepen as her kids reach new plateaus.

If you wish to contact Kristin Vollick, her number is (519) 443-0943.

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