My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 1998. Three years later, my mom read an article in the Scottsdale Progress about a music therapy group called the “Tremble Clefs.” They met one day a week for two hours to sing and socialize. Once a month they visited a retirement home and put on a one-hour concert. Singing ability was not a requirement, members just had to have an interest in singing and the willingness to socialize and have fun.
My father ended up joining the group and not only did singing help strengthen his voice, the weekly practice gave him something to anticipate and a place to make new friends. He already knew most of the songs they performed, which were 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and Broadway tunes. A perfect match. If there was one positive to come out of Parkinson’s, it was the Tremble Clefs.
My father always felt better leaving practice than when he did arriving. I also joined the group as it gave us a new hobby to do together. It was difficult to resist joining when the mood of the group was always upbeat and a tremendous camaraderie existed between members. How could you not feel happy singing “You Are My Sunshine” or “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning?”
The group director sets the tone and the Tremble Clefs had two fantastic directors while Dad was active. Kellie Walker had a strong musical background and introduced a variety of songs. But the group really took off when Sun Joo Lee came aboard mid-2008. When Sun Joo interviewed for the director position, my mom kept describing her as “uplifting.”
Unfortunately, Dad only saw Sun Joo for the last three months of his life. He passed away. My father’s funeral was the first for Sun Joo as Tremble Clefs director. Not only did the entire group attend, but they adeptly performed three of my father’s favorite songs: “Amazing Grace,” “Danny Boy” and the Tremble Clefs’ signature “America the Beautiful.”
I’m now left to wonder what these two ultra-positive, happy people could have accomplished together. I never believed I could sing, but I continued to attend group practice after my father passed. Sun Joo and the group made a believer out of me. Previously a wallflower, now I enjoy doing solos and duets.
Tremble Clefs helped Dad strengthen his vocal muscles, and it’s been a confidence-builder for me. Dad’s memory lives on through my voice. Next Story >>