Saturday, August 30, 2008

Vocal lesson participants, chorus to present program

The photos above show scenes from our second "Singers Wanted" night of free group vocal lessons. The top one shows our member Ginger (back row in turquoise) asking a question. The bottom shot features the left side of the chorus, where nine of the vocal lesson participants can be seen (at least partially, that is!) Thanks to Caroline for the photos. Will get additional ones from Lisa H. later on. Check back later, OK?

Meanwhile, the story below has been posted to the News-Star and Times blogs, and also sent to area newspapers.


Piney Hills Harmony chorus will feature its ’08 Singers Wanted participants, along with its regular chorus members, in a Performance Night at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4.

The mini-concert will spotlight area women who have gone through this year’s free group vocal lessons for women, offered annually by the Ruston-based Sweet Adelines group. Approximately 20 women have taken advantage of the lessons since Aug. 21, including residents of Lincoln, Claiborne, Ouachita, Union and Webster parishes.

Chorus members and vocal lesson participants will present a new song that they have learned together, “Kickin’ It Up a Notch.”

Chorus President Judy Sisson, of Monroe, said attending the presentation is a perfect opportunity for participants’ friends and family to observe what the singers have learned.

“We have had some wonderful ladies attend the vocal lessons, and they were great singers, too,” Sisson said. Women who missed the first two lessons can use this night as a chance to see what they missed and also to see what the chorus is all about, she added.

The chorus itself will also perform other numbers from its repertoire, such as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Dancing in the Street,” Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and “I Believe.” Quartets from within the chorus will sing as well.

The Singers Wanted Performance Night ’08 will be held in the fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church of Ruston, 212 N. Bonner. Enter through the door adjacent to the back breezeway. Admission is free, and refreshments will be provided.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Piney Hills Harmony voice lessons resume tonight - cue the applause sign!

OK, I figure an update is in order. I mean, after all, the previous post talks about "tomorrow night." Well, the next Piney Hills Harmony free vocal lesson is now ... tonight!

So here's your official, final posting concerning this session of the lessons.

Take a cue from the woman in our graphic: What a great idea!

Be there or be square. :^D

BTW, did you see our director on KTVE Region 10 at 5:45 this morning? The PHH Blogger did. Wanda did great, even though the show host kept asking her to sing (a request she denied!).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Don't forget about Phase Two: Kick it up a notch!

This is just a quick reminder that Vocal Lesson #2 is set for tomorrow night, Thursday, Aug. 28, from 6-8 p.m. at the fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church of Ruston, 212 N. Bonner.

Everyone is welcome to these free group vocal lessons for women! All voice types and ranges. All levels of musical experience. And actually, NO musical experience is necessary, nor is the ability to READ music. It's all very user-friendly.

Hope to see you there. We had a nice crowd of lovely, talented women last week and are looking forward to seeing them again (we hope!) and even more this week.

Then, after the lesson, "Singers Wanted" participants will have the chance to work on a new song with us, "Kickin' It Up a Notch." It's got great harmony -- and it's great fun.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

2nd installment of photos from '08 'Singers Wanted'

The PHH Blogger and four other members of Piney Hills Harmony journeyed to Dallas -- well, OK, Richardson -- Texas, this weekend for the annual summer show put on by the Rich-Tone chorus of Sweet Adelines. We were also privileged to have a guest from Ruston accompany us on the trip (she was a "Singers Wanted" participant last year), as well as another friend of a chorus member. The PHH Blogger is pretty sure that a good time was had by all! :-D Photos to come.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of other pix from the first night of vocal lessons. These were provided by chorus member Caroline Leung, who wields a pretty mean camera. She has been taking some great pix for us during the last year. She joined PHH last fall.

These pictures show:
1) part of the "Singers Wanted" participants taking part in the first lesson and
2) the chorus and the vocal participants learning choreography to a new song. It seems that Teresa and Sallie Rose gave different directions to their respective sides of the chorus concerning how to exit this particular move. OK, we're gonna work on that for the future! ;-}

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sharing some pix of Piney Hills Harmony's 1st '08 'Singers Wanted' lesson

As promised in an earlier post, here are some photos from the first night of Piney Hills Harmony's "Singers Wanted" free vocal lessons.

If you were one of the participants, please know that we in PHH loved having you visit with and sing with us!

If you weren't able to make the first night's lesson, but would like to attend Lesson #2 or #3, please do. We'd really like for you to participate in the voice lessons, too!

More photos to come in a few days. Stayed tuned! BTW, isn't that a nice-looking crowd?

Photo captions, from top to bottom:

Close-up of tenor section.

Close-up of baritone section and partial view of lead section.

Close-up of baritone section and partial view of lead section.

Overview of chorus and "Singers Wanted" participants as they learn "Kickin' It Up a Notch." Director Wanda McKaskle is in the foreground.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First night of vocal lessons '08: It was great!

Just wanted to post a brief note to let all the vocal lesson participants know how much we enjoyed your attending tonight's session. It was really a nice group.

We enjoyed getting to meet you and loved having you sing on the risers with us. The PHH Blogger could tell: There are excellent singers in this group. "Singers Wanted"? The answer is ... "yes"!

We hope to see you back next week, Thursday, Aug. 28. Several of you said you had other friends and/or family members who wanted to attend as well. That's great!

Hopefully, by tomorrow night, I'll have some photos posted, both to this blog and to the ones on The News-Star and The Times. Stay tuned.

What do you think, ladies? I think we "Kicked It Up a Notch"!

OK, now it's official: Piney Hills Harmony's free voice lessons start today!

Hope to see you tonight!

Please read previous posts for details.

(Is that you I hear warming up????)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Free group voice lessons start tomorrow, Thursday, Aug. 21 -- yay!!!

The photos below show sessions of previous years' "Singers Wanted" classes (top from '07; bottom from '06). Article adapted from previous PHH post.

"I had never even sung a note, outside of my car, but then I got up on those risers and felt that harmony go right through me - I was hooked!"

"I heard a Sweet Adelines group perform and had to join. Bam! Now I am hooked. I LOVE it so much."

"When I joined, I was just looking for a place to sing. I found a place I didn't know I'd been looking for ... I'm loved, I'm appreciated, I belong ... I found me."

"What other hobby allows a woman like me, of average abilities, the opportunity of performing on stage just like a professional? I love all the glitter and glamour of Show Biz!"

These are just a few of the comments that women from across the nation have made after they joined Sweet Adelines International. More can be gleaned from

The good news locally is that in August, the Ruston-based Piney Hills Harmony Chorus of Sweet Adelines will sponsor free group vocal lessons for women -- "Singers Wanted." Participants will have a chance to improve their singing skills as well as be introduced to a popular hobby.

This is the 16th year the chorus has offered the lessons, and more than 300 people from across North Louisiana have participated -- from Shreveport to Monroe. Last year 31 women took part.

Chorus director Wanda McKaskle backed up the above comments from the Divas Wanted Web site. "Musical experience isn't necessary for either the lessons or to join the chorus," McKaskle said. "Any woman of average singing ability, with or without vocal training, will benefit from the lessons and can also find a part that fits her voice range if she eventually wants to join the chorus."

In addition to musical training, McKaskle said, the chorus promotes harmony and friendship among women. It also provides community service, offering its talent for entertainment at civic events and charitable functions. Currently, the membership in the award-winning chorus includes 36 people from eight parishes.

Celebrating more than 60 years of barbershop harmony, Sweet Adelines International has a membership of over 27,000 women around the world. The organization is dedicated to educating its members in the art of singing four-part harmony, barbershop style, and has as its motto "Harmonize the World."

McKaskle explained about the phrase "Divas Wanted": "It's not your grandmother's barbershop anymore. If you haven't heard the recent arrangements that we and other Sweet Adelines perform, you'll be pleasantly surprised -- and pleased -- at the up-to-date feel of the songs."

McKaskle said the organization also offers members a chance to grow in many realms other than music.

Another Divas Wanted entry reiterates that emotion: "I learned more from being a member of Sweet Adelines than I ever learned at work. Apart from the musical training, I gained useable skills in marketing, administration and leadership. My confidence and self-esteem have gone through the roof and I am more successful in all aspects of my life now."

The Ruston lessons will be offered from 6-8 p.m. Aug. 21 and 28 and Sept. 4 at the Presbyterian Church of Ruston, 212 N. Bonner St. A new aspect added during the 2007 lessons will be repeated this year: The third week will be a performance night so that vocal class attendees can sing with the chorus for their families.

For information about the lessons or chorus, contact McKaskle in Ruston at 614-0206 or

Monday, August 18, 2008

'Kick It Up a Notch' with Piney Hills Harmony!

If you're contemplating being a participant in our "Singers Wanted" free group voice lessons for women, here's a way to get a leg up on the process.

Vocal lesson participants will have a chance to learn a new song at the same time as regular chorus members. Each night of the lessons, after the "Singers Wanted" class has concluded, attendees will have an opportunity to get on the risers with Piney Hills Harmony as the PHH members learn "Kickin' It Up a Notch." (Note: This is not a requirement, but rather a fun opportunity for additional singing experience.)

The third week, after the lesson, both "Singers Wanted" participants and Piney Hills Harmony members will put on a Friends and Family performance of the new song.

Here's the "secret hint": If you would like to hear the song ahead of time, you can request that an mp3 sample be e-mailed to you. If you're interested, please e-mail Sallie Rose Hollis at

This is just to get you acquainted with the song. Additional coaching and learning aids will be provided during the lessons. And never fear: Even if you can't read music, the process will be laid out for you in simple, user-friendly fashion.

So, if you're thinking about making the plunge and coming to the lessons, remember what our director, Wanda McKaskle, said: "It will be an evening that you won't forget."

Let's Kick It Up a Notch!!!

Read more details about our "Singers Wanted" free vocal lessons for women in earlier posts on this blog. You can also make use of the contact info provided above or in the profile column to the right. Hope to see -- and hear! -- you!!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What propels 24 women to drive 30 or more miles to chorus rehearsal?

Listen to "Lagniappe" on KEDM radio (90.3) at 8:30 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18, to find out the answer to this intriguing question:

What propels 24 women drive 30 or more miles (one way) to Piney Hills Harmony/Sweet Adelines rehearsal in Ruston each week -- even with today's high gas prices? What gives?

The chorus includes 35 members from across the region: 10 from Ruston, 11 from Ouachita Parish, 4 from Union Parish, 4 from Shreveport and Bossier parishes, 3 from Claiborne Parish, and 1 each from Bienville, Jackson and Winn parishes. Singing must produce some powerful endorphins or something!

Find out what two of these women have to say about the situation in an interview with Sunny Meriwether on the local public radio station. Tune in to 90.3, and listen as Carol Ogle and Teresa White, both of Monroe, help explain what all the hubbub is about. Their pic above was taken while they were in Canada last year for International Convention/Competition.

The duo will also share some of their experiences of attending this year's International Education Symposium hosted by the worldwide Sweet Adelines organization in San Antonio, Texas. They are bringing home a wealth of information to share with their Sisters in Song -- and also with others who visit the chorus.

Indeed, Piney Hills Harmony is opening its doors to area visitors this coming Thursday, Aug. 21, as well as Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 as the chorus sponsors its annual free group vocal lessons for women. Sessions will be offered from 6-8 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Ruston, 212 N. Bonner St. All voices welcome! A new aspect added during the 2007 lessons will be repeated this year: The third week will be a performance night so that vocal class attendees can sing with the chorus for their families.

For more information, listen on Monday to KEDM's Lagniappe as noted above, read other posts in this blog, visit, or contact director Wanda McKaskle in Ruston at 614-0206 or

You, too, can find the answer to the question: What propels a throng of women to drive 70 or more miles -- round trip -- to chorus rehearsal?

A program earlier this month on Red River Radio station in Shreveport explored the same question with two Shreveport members. That interview can be found at this link (look for "News With Kate Archer Kent, 08-05-08")

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Real Rewards: In women’s singing group, benefits reach beyond trophies

This is Part 3 of our "Real Women, Real Harmony, Real Fun" series. (Part 1 was titled "The Real Musical Thing: sweetly, harmoniously, melodiously"; Part II, “Real Women, Real Stories.” See previous posts for full details.)

As women, we tend to search for endeavors that will bring meaning and purpose to our lives. In keeping with that, the rewards of being a Sweet Adelines member go way beyond awards.

As a Sweet Adeline you become part of a well-respected family of women where your opinion matters and great friendships form. The organization becomes your own. Programs are planned by members for members. Sure, opportunities are bound to arise where you can earn great prizes, but more importantly the group offers a place for you to express your talent like never before. You’ll discover that opportunities available through Sweet Adelines International are unlimited. Here are just a few:

Thousands of Voices – If you join Sweet Adelines International – and Piney Hills Harmony -- you’ll become part of an organization of nearly 27,000 women from all over the world who enjoy singing in four-part a cappella harmony, barbershop style.

Quality Entertainment through Education
– You will learn music and vocal production, as well as choreography, stage production, costuming, makeup and much more. Training and certification programs are available in the areas of directing, arranging, judging, teaching (faculty), personal growth and leadership.

All the World’s a Stage – Hone your musical and performance skills at regional and/or international competitions. Each chorus rehearses regularly and is part of a region that holds educational events and chorus/quartet competitions each year. These events provide exciting opportunities to travel, perform and learn.

The Best of Barbershop – Thousands of members assemble annually to listen to the best quartets and choruses from each region compete in the international championships. Convention activities include education classes, a show of celebrity and top barbershop performers, and a show presented by our past international champion quartets. The International Convention is held in the fall each year at different locations throughout the world, carefully selected years in advance.

A Surge of Self-Confidence – Many members say the leadership and creative skills they develop as a Sweet Adelines member change their lives. Through meeting people and learning to work together for common goals, members improve their social skills and gain self-assurance.

Just for the Fun of It! Opportunities Abound – We all need time for pleasure and relaxation. As a member you’ll discover fun social activities, an enlarged circle of friends, and community service projects that benefit your hometown.

Other Perks – In addition to these significant benefits you are also offered discounts through the International Sales department on sheet music, CDs, videos, books, brochures, merchandise and International Convention registration. You will also receive the Sweet Adelines International quarterly publication of The Pitch Pipe magazine and other relevant newsletters filled with news, stories, letters, pictures and everything else you want to know about the wonderful world of Sweet Adelines.

Harmonize the World
– Singing and performing barbershop harmony in a Sweet Adelines chorus near you – i.e., Piney Hills Harmony in Ruston, La. -- is a pleasure you deserve. Join now! Sweet Adelines is a hobby that brings joy and harmony into your life.

Contact us by calling our director, Wanda McKaskle of Bernice, at (318) 614-0206 or our president, Judy Sisson of Monroe, at (318) 237-9203 - or e-mail us at or

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Real women, real stories of how song has impacted their lives

The PHH Blogger hopes that our blogs are not becoming too repetitive, what with one blog in the Monroe paper, one in Shreveport, and then this overall chorus blog. If the top few posts on this site look familiar, please peruse some of the earlier posts here, and you'll undoubtedly find info that wasn't available elsewhere. Whatever the case, WELCOME!

This is Part 2 of our "Real Women, Real Harmony, Real Fun" series. (Part 1 was posted earlier this week, titled "The Real Musical Thing: sweetly, harmoniously, melodiously." See previous post for full details.)

Today's post focuses on what Sweet Adelines and its various chapters -- such as Piney Hills Harmony in Ruston -- can offer women who are interested in singing and/or performing. Here are a few samples of what women around the country had to say about finding their Sisters in Song. (And stay tuned to this blog because local testimontials are on the horizon.) If you're thinking about attending our upcoming free vocal lessons, dubbed "Singers Wanted," and are a bit doubtful, please ponder these statements, made by women just like you:

"Everyone is there for the love of singing and they embrace all those who want to share in that joy."
Kay Macrosson
Lion's Gate Chorus
Vancouver, British Columbia

"Music is a magical porthole that allows many people to liberate their emotions, and this to me is a great thing to be a part of."
Ginny Sojka
Center Point Chorus
Stevens Point, Wis.

"I'm a part of such an awesome group of ladies. Even though I've only been with the group for a few weeks, I really feel like I belong."
Patti Bade
Spirt of Harmony
Spirit Lake, Iowa

"From my first visit everyone was welcoming and friendly, which made me feel comfortable, even if my notes or words weren't correct."
Michelle Lepler
Twin County Chorus
Long Island, N.Y.

"There is nothing like those barbershop chords ringing and the goose bumps or hair standing on end when those chords lock in place."
Lynne Cyphers
Sound of the Heartland Chorus
Newton, Kan.


The Ruston chapter of Sweet Adelines International, Piney Hills Harmony, will offer its 16th session of free group vocal lessons for women Aug. 21, Aug. 28 and Sept. 4. Classes are scheduled from 6-8 p.m. in the fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church of Ruston, 212 N. Bonner St. See blog profile above for contact information; see additional Web sites listed in the column to the right.

We'd love to see you! We'll do our best to roll out the red carpet of welcome! Piney Hills Harmony is the fastest-growing mid-size chorus in a five-state area. Think about it: Catch the sound wave that is rolling across North Louisiana.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Real Musical Thing: sweetly, harmoniously, melodiously

Being passionate about singing is what this organization thrives on. Sweet Adelines are real women, singing real harmony, making real friendships and having real fun!

You can't imagine the thrills that await you if you are contemplating becoming a Sweet Adelines member. You will belong to a well-loved, worldwide family of women singers dedicated to advancing the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education and performance.

Sweet Adelines International has grown to be one of the world's largest nonprofit singing organizations for women, with more than 25,000 members throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Whether you think barbershop is your style or not, you will be surprised when you hear the variety of music that Sweet Adelines choruses and quartets sing. This four-part, a cappella style of music lends itself to songs from any era – today’s ballads, popular show tunes, even jazz. Members across the globe have also gained exciting opportunities performing for professional sporting events, Olympic ceremonies, with major symphonies, on several well-known television shows, and many others.

You may be wondering if you can actually sing barbershop music. Barbershop harmony is different from any other kind of choral or group singing because of the vocal harmony produced by four parts: tenor, lead, baritone and bass. Any woman of average singing ability, with or without vocal training, will find a part that fits her range. Finding the right part for your voice is the initial step. With the education and vocal lessons offered through your membership you are bound to be a barbershop sensation!

For more history and details of Sweet Adelines International and barbershop harmony see the "Who We Are Web" page at

You can get started by joining Piney Hills Harmony chorus in Ruston. Be a part of something real!

(Adapted from "Real Harmony" newsletter published by Sweet Adelines International.)

To come:

* Membership Benefits:
Beyond Trophies and Plaques
* Notes of Interest:
The Basics of Barbershop
* Testimonials:
Real Women, Real Stories
(from local members and also from across the globe)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Catch Piney Hills Harmony chorus Tuesday, Aug. 5, on Red River Radio

Two Piney Hills Harmony members from Shreveport, Jerri Mahoney and Mary Stark, will be on Red River Radio 90.7 at 6:06, 7:06 and 8:06 a.m Tuesday, Aug. 5.

Kate Archer-Kent has interviewed the duo for a piece concerning the love and dedication that causes them and other members to drive to Ruston every week for rehearsal. Four Caddo-Bossier parish residents make the trek, as well as three from Claiborne Parish, 11 from Ouachita Parish, four from Union Parish, two from Jackson Parish and one from Bienville Parish. The remaining members come from Ruston itself.

Tune in and see what it is that lures these folks to the risers to sing a cappella harmony. Is it the music itself? Is it the friendship? Is it the emotional release that singing provides? What? Whaaaaat?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

New bass from Monroe joins Piney Hills Harmony

Piney Hills Harmony has added another Sister in Song to our ranks. Alice Baggett, of Monroe, was recently sung into the chorus.

In the photo that accompanies this post, Mary Stark, of Shreveport, our membership chair, is presenting Alice with her "rookie goodie bag."

Alice joined our bass section, and we greet her with a warm, open-arms Piney Hills Harmony welcome!

No doubt others will soon join the 2008 Rookie Class since we will begin our annual free group vocal lessons this month. The classes, which are aimed at women in north Louisiana and south Arkansas, will be taught Aug. 21 and 28 and Sept. 4.

Last year more than 30 women participated in the lessons, and five of them later joined the chorus, though there is no obligation to do so. But, just remember: It’s great fun! And it's educational, too. (Hmmmm...sounds kinda like Vitameatvegamin: "It's so tasty, too! ... Just like candy!!!")

Our "Singers Wanted" sessions will be from 6-8 p.m. in the fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church of Ruston, 212 N. Bonner. Contact our director or president for more information: director Wanda McKaskle of Bernice, at (318) 614-0206 or; or President Judy Sisson of Monroe, at (318) 237-9203 or

Our membership now numbers 35. Member Cynthia Clark recently went Chapter at Large due to job, school and other responsibilities. In addition, assistant director Sheila Stepp just announced that she is going Chapter at Large as well because of obligations in relation to working on her doctorate (plus, she's engaged to be married in the near future ... best wishes! :-) We'll miss you two and hope you're back with us as soon as possible! Sheila will maintain her ties with Masquerade quartet.

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