U3A: Songsters strike a chord

In tune: U3As Singing for Fun group
In tune: U3As Singing for Fun group Photo by Contributed

U3A’s 16-year-old Singing for Fun (SFF) group is looking for more members.

Thirty people are registered, but numbers have been as high as 48.

Founder of the group in 2006, Joyce Borschman, said they needed more singers, in particular because they had lost several because of COVID restrictions.

“In particular we have lost several good altos; we really need more of them. But people can just come and listen; it is not obligatory to sing,” Ms Borschman said.

Ms Borschman, still an active singer, started Singing for Fun in Benalla with 12 people, but no music, no piano, in fact nothing at all.

“But the Rotary Club donated a piano and the Soroptimists gave us $150,” she said.

“We started in a house then went to the CWA hall, and then Cooinda, but we got too big for that.”

Singing for Fun: Convenor Margaret Jenkins and founder Joyce Borschman.
Singing for Fun: Convenor Margaret Jenkins and founder Joyce Borschman. Photo by Contributed

Now the group sings on the first three Thursdays of the month, for two hours, in the Hub at Cooinda.

Ms Borschman said it was acoustically as good as the best places they have sung in.

The next session will be on Thursday, July 7, at 10am.

Only three of the original group remain — Patsy Bollard, pianist Gwen Barnes and Ms Borschman.

Three in the group of 30 are over 90 and the youngest is about 60, but much younger people are welcome to join.

One time dentist and farmer Brian Greed is part of the group as a conductor/leader and sometime pianist.

Singing For Fun focuses on show tunes, classics and traditional songs learnt at school.

Kieran Smith, chasing 75, conducts the group for a large part of each session.

Although Australia-born, he is Irish to his bootstraps, having been to the Emerald Isle 11 times.

That Irish joy of singing has permeated his life. He said when someone close to his family died, he and his brothers always stood around the grave and sang Danny Boy, in honour of the departed.

Perhaps tongue in cheek, he says he sings in SFF for the sake of his lungs.

Gwen Barnes has been the main accompanying pianist since the group started 16 years ago.

She says she has built her life around the meetings because it has been difficult to find anyone else to accompany the group.

Tinkling the ivories: Pianist Gwen Barnes.
Tinkling the ivories: Pianist Gwen Barnes. Photo by Contributed

“I don’t commit to anything else on the first Thursdays of the month,” Ms Barnes said.

“But then, I’m at the mercy of the three leaders as to what music to play, because they select the songs...

“But I don’t always have the music.”

At the mid-June SFF session, the Abba song Waterloo was introduced to the group and proved difficult with some practice obviously needed.

Ms Barnes said the difficulty with learning Waterloo was the group liked to come in on the first beat and that sent the whole song haywire.

“They should come in on the last beat of the bar before the first beat and people find that difficult,” she said.

Convenor of the Singing for Fun group is Benalla’s U3A president Margaret Jenkins. For more information she can be contacted on 5762 6944.

David Palmer, U3A publicity officer