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Moldaw Singers Perform “A Biblical Songfest” and Prove that Music Brings Joy at Any Age

Moldaw resident Linda Mankin leads the Moldaw Singers in concert.
Moldaw resident Linda Mankin leads the Moldaw Singers in concert.
Moldaw residents, family members and guests enjoyed a tremendous auditory and visual experience when the Moldaw Singers performed their concert – “A Biblical Songfest” at The Oshman Family Jewish Community Center with a special slideshow presentation. The group is made up of nearly 40 singers, many in their 80s and 90s. Linda Mankin puts her master’s degree from Stanford University in music composition to good use as she leads the Moldaw Singers choral group and works hard to make sure these seniors are on key and having fun. The dozen songs selected were based on stories of the Bible and included, “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho,” “Little David Play Your Harp,” “Sit Down, Sister” and several others, some in Hebrew and Latin. Resident Council President, 87-year-old Henry Burger is one of the Moldaw Singers and was anxious to bring the show to the JCC’s Cultural Arts Hall next door to Moldaw Residences in Palo Alto. The group of seniors did not disappoint as they kept the audience entertained through the evening.

“My wife and I love performing with the Moldaw Singers,” said Burger. “Our group leader and Moldaw resident, Linda, works so hard with us and really helps us prepare even though some members have never sung before. Our practices and performances are just other ways for everyone to get together and enjoy each other’s company, and that’s important.”

Mankin took charge leading this group two years ago and has experienced tremendous success with the senior singers. At 85 years young, she continues to attend conferences that inspire her and give her more ideas and tips to share with her choral group. Most recently, she attended a conference in San Francisco hosted by The Acoustical Society of America and came back with renewed enthusiasm to help improve the group’s performances.

“Witnessing the progress of this group has been confirmation of my belief that music can be a lifelong source of pride and pleasure,” said Mankin. “I would encourage anyone who ‘used to’ sing or play an instrument, to never give it up. It could be one of the greatest pleasures of your life.”

The Moldaw Singers currently is made up of about 8-10 male vocalists while the rest are women. Mankin has noticed the members’ increased sense of loyalty and dedication over time with their rehearsals and performances together. They practice every Monday night for almost two hours, and what started as few participants has grown into a popular performing group whose shows typically have standing room only.

Their most recent concert theme, “A Biblical Songfest,” came naturally to Mankin. For a number of years, she has been attending the weekly Torah Classes at the local reform synagogue, Temple Beth Am of Los Altos Hills. Mankin finds the stories fascinating and the songs that have been written about them beautiful. Believing that people of all ages and religions can relate to them, Mankin chose this theme with confidence.

“We’d been excited to show the community how hard we’ve been practicing and how talented our group is through such special songs with this Biblical theme,” said Burger.

Now Mankin is excited to share what she has learned most recently with the Moldaw Singers as they gear up for their 2014 season. She plans to try incorporating some of the techniques she noted at the last conference she attended geared to help senior singers produce more tone.

“According to several presenters, there is a tendency among some seniors to think they sound louder than they do, which may be due to the feedback they get from their hearing aids or to the natural decline in the production of their vocal chords,” described Mankin. “The suggestion was made to pass around a hand-held personal recorder, a smart phone perhaps, and allow them to actually hear themselves. For those more visually oriented, there is an app that will show a picture of the sound signal as they sing, giving them input as to the ‘strength of their sound versus time.’ Either way, we never stop learning, and I’m anxious to share these new methods with the group.”

  ABOUT MOLDAW RESIDENCES

Moldaw Residences is an innovative senior living community located at the 8.5 acre Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life, adjacent to the 130,000 square foot Oshman Family Jewish Community Center. As a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), Moldaw Residences enables older adults to age in place by providing independent living, assisted living and memory support. Opened in 2009, Moldaw Residences offers 193 maintenance free, spacious apartment homes and extensive social and cultural amenities. Affiliated with the Jewish Senior Living Group, it is open to all faiths, ethnicities, and racial background.

For more information about Moldaw Residences of Palo Alto, visit www.moldaw.org or call (800) 873-9614.

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