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Thursday, August 7, 2014


Photo taken in Paris, France on the famous 
Opera House staircase. Maxson sang on the
stage while studying abroad in 2005.
By Monica Thomas

Cheri Maxson, well-known music, theater and writing mentor from Shinglehouse, has founded a Community Choir for the area. Her vision is to encourage those who feel they are not vocalists that yes; they do indeed, have a voice.

Maxson shared, "Every person's voice is unique, like a finger print. None are alike; and what a unique opportunity to use your voice as a personal form of self- expression. Natural voice singing is about celebrating the voice you were born with, rather than trying to train it to an ideal of perfection. It's about building accepting, non-judgmental communities that sing together. It’s about welcoming all voices into a group without auditions and working from there to make a group sound. It's about making learning by ear accessible to the whole group so that nobody needs to be able to read music.” Anyone interested in joining the community choir does not need to be able to read music to be a part of this group. She will be using both sheet music for those who do read music and also teaching songs “by ear” for those like me, who do not. The choir will be open to adults 18 years and older.

The second part of her mission is to build community by singing. Maxson said, “Eight years ago the elementary school music teacher in Shinglehouse, Beth Lewis, formed a community choir for the town’s bi-centennial celebration. I loved being a part of that group and the response of the choir and the community was huge at that time. I missed that interaction and decided that I when I had the time to devote to it, I’d try to form one again. That time has finally come.”

Maxson has been singing since she was a little girl. While in high school she was active in all music programs and attended a variety of local, regional and state choral festivals. She has over 30 years of experience singing, directed a church choir for 10 years, was a member of a musical group called "Step of Faith," and directed the Oswayo Valley Vocal Adrenaline Show Choir for 7 years.

She has created a Facebook page at . A website, created by Dani Newman of Gifford can be viewed at The email address is

The group will meet twice a month on Tuesdays from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm with the first Tuesday being September 9th. The rehearsal location will be announced shortly. The choir plans to stage two major performances a year along with a couple of smaller events. The first season’s concert performance will be a Christmas Concert on the evening of December 12 with an afternoon matinee on Saturday, December 13. The second season will be a spring concert in May with the date to be announced. The community choir’s repertoire will include many genres of music including folk, traditional, jazz, blues, swing, gospel/spiritual, Broadway, patriotic, holiday and contemporary.

There will be no auditions to join the group in hopes of encouraging an accepting and fun atmosphere. Maxson invites all to come and make music together with both experienced and unexperienced singers alike. "No matter what anyone else has told you, you do have a beautiful voice and you can make music,” she states. Maxson is very excited about building a new choir that will be promoting community spirit with an open and receptive space for singing. "Singing together connects us to each other; all of us are musical. You can experience the joy of musical expression, have fun standing with a group of people and make beautiful songs come to life with one voice."

Mrs. Maxson has formed a board of directors, written a constitution and is seeking donations toward sheet music, accompaniment CD's and other miscellaneous items needed. Membership will involve the payment of minimal dues to help with start-up costs. She can be contacted through the group’s email address or their Facebook page.


Anonymous said...

"No matter what anyone else has told you, you do have a beautiful voice and you can make music,”

It’s not true! While most people can passably carry a tune and can ‘practice’ into something reasonably tolerable, some people (like my dear ole dad and many others I’ve know ) are utterly and unmistakably (not to be unnecessarily redundant here) TONE DEAF. Although they may not sing the loudest—it sure sounds like they do. And they seem to really enjoy whatever it is that they do that they call singing.

When these folks show up, give them a triangle, or a box or something to thump on… but for cryin’ out loud, don’t encourage them to sing—they suck at singing—they won’t get any better at it… It’s like asking the color-blind guy to cut the ‘RED’ wire on the ticking time bomb.

Some folks just aren’t wired for singing. That’s why god made percussion.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful idea. There aren't enough forums for those interested in the arts to express themselves in our area. Kudos to Mrs. Maxson for trying to include everyone who is interested. Whether they can really sing or not, it sounds like the point is to enjoy the experience.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it not just the voice that is the gift or blessing it is the person's spirit, loving support and just plain fun to be with. I don't think she is looking to win music awards but build a community of acceptance. We need more people like her who believe in our little towns and want them live not to die out. There is so much negativity already in this world lets support all efforts that are not. Thank you for being a beacon of energy in my hometown.

Sing..Sing a Song said...

Reminds me of my favorite TV show: Andy Griffith. There were a couple of episodes with Barney trying to sing. His girlfriend Thelma Lou and Andy's dialogue follows: (with credit to
Thelma Lou: Barney's going to be in the choir? My Barney? Andy: That's right. Thelma Lou: But Barney can't sing. Andy: I know. Thelma Lou: He's a warm, wonderful person and I love him dearly; but he can't sing. Andy: That's true. Thelma Lou: He's kind, considerate, good-hearted - the most gentle person I've ever known; but he can't sing. Andy: You're right. Thelma Lou: He's the man I want to marry - the man I want to be the father of my children... Andy: But he can't sing. Thelma Lou: Not a lick!
So with that said, maybe Barney couldn't sing but he sure wasn't afraid to try!!