BRTC’s Kimbrough Choir is clearly an intergenerational group of people. Many of the members are community members who also happen to be students, bass, tenor, alto and soprano singers who add greatly to the choir’s musicality.
But they are much, much more than mere voices, according to Choir Director Joniece Tarmmel. In ways that make all the difference to their younger counterparts, these community members who have many years of experience in vocal and instrumental music, provide support, mentoring, and serve as role models to those young enough to be their children and grandchildren.
It’s a winning blend, Trammel believes.
“They come in early to help and stay late after rehearsals.” They sometimes purposefully sit next to certain students “to help them get their pitches and rhythms,” Trammel explains. These individuals show up to support the Kimbrough Singers, a small group of mostly younger students, whenever that group has a performance.
The community members love music, as evidenced by their participation with various musical programs: First Methodist and Great Harvest Churches, Northeast Arkansas Chorale, and Homeward Bound Quartet. They also enjoy that camaraderie with the younger students. “It’s fun to be around young people,” said Patty Riffel.
The thought is echoed by Madonna Foster, who points out that “they keep us active and young.”
Former teachers and lifelong musicians Joyce Rose and Kay McFall note that they feel a responsibility to encourage students. McFall also pointed out what pleasure she gains from watching the younger students shed their shyness and develop into performers. She also notes “We’re someone for the students to talk to besides Mom and Dad, and we’re there to help them, whether it’s a pat on the back or a kick in the butt!”
Many of the community members have ties to BRTC. For example, Karen Parish is the daughter of the late Joe Martin, BRTC’s first Board President and a major college benefactor. Others have children or grandchildren who attend or work at BRTC. One of the community members who still sings with the choir, Dexter Kimbrough, actually provided the initial funding for the choral music program which still bears his name.
“They add so much,” Trammel noted. “We are always happy for new students to join the Kimbrough Choir, and that definitely includes students of all ages.”