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FAB participants share the joy of singing

December 1, 2015

STAR Center hosts weekly choral get-together Monday mornings

If you recall happily singing while riding in the family car, or the delight of belting out a tune in a high school chorus, STAR Center now offers another treat.

Nearly every Monday morning, a group of people in Metro Parks’ Fifty and Better (FAB) recreation programs gets together, shares printed lyrics and sings, sings, sings for about an hour, just for the fun of it.

“I like the way it makes people feel,” said Diane Tilstra, one of the regulars. “It’s a huge stress reliever.”

Tilstra and several other participants are experienced harmonizers, who’ve sung in quartets or choral groups throughout much of their lives. But others are novices, who simply wanted to attempt something new and found the experience delightful.

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On a recent Monday, the group warmed up by singing one little ditty after another, virtually without a moment’s break. Among the songs: “Tea for Two,” “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover,” “Has Anybody Seen My Gal?” and “Oh, Susanna.” The group also tried a few Christmas carols. Members also have suggested a repertoire of show tunes.

Tilstra sings whenever she can: in the car, in the shower, at Rotary. She doesn’t like missing meetings of that civic group because she loses her regular opportunity to sing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

To get to the weekly sessions, Karlin Frederick rides the bus to and from her Lakewood home. Because of the limited bus schedule, she can only sing for a half hour. Nonetheless, she finds it worthwhile. “A half an hour is a half an hour,” she said, matter of factly, and pulled out a stack of bound lyrics to share with the group.

Scientific studies have shown that regular singing stimulates the release of hormones that alleviate anxiety and induce pleasurable feelings. It’s also great for the heart and lungs, said Janet Bissell, who organized the get-togethers for FAB.

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The Monday singers just began meeting recently and are eager to recruit new voices; no experience is necessary. The group is short on male vocalists, in particular.

Even so, singer Bill Lewis is happy to be surrounded by vocalists of the opposite gender. “These girls have beautiful voices,” he said. Before turning out for the Monday group, he hadn’t sung a note since high school; his graduating class just celebrated its 60th annual reunion. When he read about the singers at STAR Center, he thought to himself: “I’ll just try it.” The tunes are familiar; he feels welcome.

Jean Mandy, another Monday morning singer, said she’s always got a tune in her head. She’s a regular harmonizer choral groups and also plays several instruments. And while music has filled her whole life, she says a background such as hers is not a prerequisite to the bliss that comes with a song. “It’s a great joy,” she said. “It makes you happy.”

The group is looking for a volunteer pianist willing to accompany the singers. If you’d like to become involved, as a vocalist or piano player, contact Janet Bissell at (253) 312-4458 or

  • What: Singing group
  • When: 10:45 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. Mondays
  • Where: STAR Center, 3873 S. 66th St., Tacoma
  • Cost: Free
  • To join: Call (253) 312-4458 or send a message to

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