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She's bringing song back; feel free to join

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Katharine Grant leads the first of a series of three song circles in River Falls, at the public library Sunday afternoon. The next two are scheudled for Feb. 26, and March 5, from 2 - 3:30 p.m. Shown, from left, are: Nanette McIntyre, Keith Rodli, Christine Wolf, Katharine Grant, and Ann Halla. (River Falls Journal photo by Gretta Stark)2 / 3
From left are: (back) Ann Halla, Catherine of Baldwin, TonyaSchmitt, Katharine Grant, Anna and Bob of Red Wing, Hal Watson; (middle) Julia Schmitt, Nanette McIntyre-Schellhorn; (front) Celia of Baldwin, Maggie Watson, Christine Wolf.3 / 3

Not everyone feels they can sing. In fact, local resident Katharine Grant said many people feel they can't sing. But Grant says that's not true.

"We are all innately able to sing," she said. "If you can talk you can sing. It's kind of like, if you think of birds sitting on a wire, and one bird is singing away and the others go, 'You can't sing.' It would just be kind of ridiculous.

Leave it to humans to think of that idea."

Grant held  three song circle, starting in February, at the River Falls Public Library over the next several weeks. The first was held Sunday afternoon.

"It's reclaiming, kind of, a natural thing that we already can do," Grant said. "And it's the kind of singing that never puts you on the spot. You're never out on a limb singing alone, it's all group singing."

Grant said the goal of the song circles is to bring people together.

"I would like song to become more part of our days," she said. "Not necessarily in a group. But it's a tool that can be handy when you're going through your day."

For example, she said singing can be helpful if you are stuck in traffic and running late, entertaining yourself if you're bored, soothing a friend who is sick or dying, or soothing a baby or small child.

Grant said song can also help work as an ice-breaker for groups of people who need to work together. She said song has been popular in corporations lately, to foster cooperation at meetings.

Modern technology allows people to have a lot of music at their fingertips, most of the time.

"That's really wonderful stuff," Grant said. "It's kind of neat to realize that we can all do that on our own, when we need it. Sometimes your iPad's not available, or it's not working, or we're in a crunch or something."

Grant said people attending song circles will sit or stand in a circle and sing some simple songs together. They might be call-and-response, or rounds, for example.

"There's serious songs and funny songs and light songs," Grant said, "and there are no wrong notes ... it's about making songs together and enjoying the lightness of it."

People of all ages are welcome at the song circles.

Though singing has long been a part of many human cultures, song circles, Grant said, have really become popular the past 10 or so years.

Grant got into song circles through Barbara Mcaffee, a singing coach and corporate consultant in song.

Grant has been singing all her life, starting with folk singing. She's also had wonderful experiences in choirs, she said, and has had some wonderful solo opportunities.

"Now this community singing is really a whole new way of sharing," she said, "where I'm not performing, I'm instead leading others into song."

Grant attended a school of training in British Columbia for leading this type of singing group. She's also had experience leading song in other events.

Grant, a River Falls resident since 2003, is married to retired local lawyer Keith Rodli, and has worked seasonably at Rush Creek Growers Greenhouse in the town of Martell.

She said she hopes the group will get people excited about singing in a way they thought they couldn't.

"Basically I want people to remember from their childhood through these song circles that is really fun to sing," Grant said. "And I want them to gradually forget the old stories that most of us have that we can't sing, we don't sing, we don't have a good voice — Let that stuff fade away into the distance, wither on the vine, and we get busy doing other things like singing."

Grant will lead two more song circles Sunday and the next Sunday starting at 2 p.m. in the library's main level meeting room.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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