The Bashful Balladeers of Nelson come to Vernon Feb. 27. (Devon L. Muhlert photo)

The Bashful Balladeers of Nelson come to Vernon Feb. 27. (Devon L. Muhlert photo)

Bashful Balladeers bring voices to Vernon

Despite hiding behind masks, talent shines with this group

If you were told as a child to “just mouth the words, dear,” this newly forming group is for you.

The Bashful Balladeers is a gentle start for adults who would love to sing but are uncomfortable with performing, at this time.

The group starts in Vernon on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. The tour will go for six weeks. Venue TBA, as that depends on the number of responses. Pre-registration is required. Contact Devon Muhlert at devonelle@telus.net, or 250-241-9655.

When teachers tell children not to sing, they discount the whole child and stifle his or her original voice. That’s not fair.

When Muhlert was Music Director in Nelson, she heard this sad story over and over again.

See: Choir has a new leader and a new outlook

“Oh no, you don’t want me in your choir! I only sing in the shower.”

Muhlert had been told the same thing as a child, and still managed to become a music teacher. She decided to do something about the suppression of so many voices.

In Nelson, the choirs she came to were already accomplished when she arrived. One was a hand-bell choir, but its members were skittish and refused to be watched ringing their hand-bells. The compromise had been for them to ring from the balcony, where the audience would have to turn around to see them.

So, Muhlert reasoned, if the bell-ringers could hide in the balcony, why not the bashful singers? The group started gently, with low lights and rote learning—no sheet music in sight. The 20 people who showed up responded well. Within three months, they began to sing in harmony, still without written music. The following year they were the subject of an article in the International Choral Bulletin, a magazine based in Belgium for high-end choirs. Named previously “reluctant singers,” they had triumphed over obstacles.

Three years later, the church downsized, and Muhlert’s hours were cut from half to quarter time, making it impossible to stay. The Bashful Balladeers thanked her.

“Not only did you do the music for us and with us, you showed us how to do it for ourselves.”

And yes, over her three years there, the bell-ringers had also gained confidence, and been coaxed into the lime-light. Now they were being invited to perform all over the region. Patience and perseverance had paid off.

The Bashful Balladeers will be using different techniques, some akin to therapeutic singing, starting with a relaxing music meditation.

Muhlert now teaches music privately: guitar, flute, saxophone, therapeutic singing and songwriting. She works out of her studio at Caetani Cultural Centre.


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