“He who sings frightens away his ills.” – Miguel de Cervantes
People who sing with others experience a wide range of joys and benefits. Members of singing groups enjoy meeting new people and feeling more alert and emotionally uplifted. Singing provides a direct and immediate sense of happiness and takes your mind off the stresses of the day. It’s an ageless enjoyment; you’re never too young or too old.
The Joyful Notes, led by Dawn Larkins, is a community choir that was founded in 2005, boasting 22 members whose age ranges from 40 to 100-years-old. Larkins isn’t just the adult senior choir director at Main Street Baptist Church and choir director for the Joyful Notes, she is also a pianist, vocalist, mom and entrepreneur.
The group meets every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. in the common area at Robinwood Senior Living, located on Hopkins Road.
“Being a member of Joyful Notes is inexpensive and brings a real sense of camaraderie, togetherness and happiness. It also helps you to listen, be focused and builds your confidence through teamwork,” noted Phillip Thompson, a Joyful Notes choir member.
Sandy Hunt, a Clemmons native, has been living at Robinwood Senior Living since 2010, and that’s about the time she heard about the Joyful Notes singing group.
“Some of the residents told me about this gleeful singing group, so I took a chance, met everyone at practice one Tuesday morning, and I never looked back,” recalled Hunt. “What I love most about being part of this singing group is the feeling I have. We are all family, everybody knows everybody and we all love being around one another, we just love to have fun and sing.”
Priddy Manor Assisted Living in King is one of their favorite senior centers where the group enjoys performing.
“The Alzheimer patients really respond to us when we go there and sing to them. It is truly remarkable. They join right in just like they know the songs we are singing,” said Hunt. “When we start singing, everyone’s eyes just light up and smiles happen all around.”
Larkins, whose father was in the Navy, was born in Morocco, Africa and moved to Kernersville 33 years ago when she married her husband, Jack. They have three children together.
Music has always played a role in her life. She sang in the church choir as a child and comes from a family with a rich musical background. “I was always drawn to music,” she said.
The theme for their upcoming May show is centered on uplifting Gospel music. Larkins drew from her own experiences as a child. Her father and others started a church in the country when she was a young girl. Her love of music stemmed from her humble church beginnings. She started taking piano lessons at the age of seven. She eventually majored in piano while attending Winthrop University in South Carolina.
“Our group members are very fun loving, and we have a very relaxed atmosphere here. We meet early about once a month to have breakfast together,” said Larkins. “This year we are going to try and write a cookbook together.”
Larkins continued, “The choir seems to be a sanctuary for most of the women. It’s a place to heal, to meditate, to sing about something greater than themselves and to connect with others. They leave refreshed, happy and wanting more in their lives than sitting in their apartments alone.”
Thompson has been singing with the group for two years, and looks forward to coming to their weekly rehearsals. He began singing as a young man, and loves sharing his voice with others in the community.
“I would have to say what I love most about being a part of this singing group is the fellowship and friendship. The joyful notes that others receive from us makes you feel good inside. Everyone that comes to sing here wants to be here and is dedicated to Dawn. They really love Dawn,” shared Thompson.
The Joyful Notes provides a choir experience for all adults, regardless of their talent or experience, by creating a choir open to all in the community who self-identify as lovers of music. No prior singing experience is required. You do not need to read music or audition. The emphasis is on singing for the “joy” of it. The only requirement for joining the Joyful Notes is a desire to sing.
Another member of the group, Cathy Stockman, explained, “Joining the community choir has given us excitement, harmony and a new appreciation of how singing is good for the soul. Being in the choir just lifts our spirits.”
Larkins encourages anyone who loves to sing to come out and join the group at Robinwood Senior Living on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Robinwood Senior Living is located at 230 Hopkins Road.