Last weekend thanks to Cindy Rempel Patrick, the Steinbach Arts Council, and Golden West Radio, I was able to enjoy a reunion concert and brunch for the Treble Teens, a singing group that put Steinbach on the map for a number of decades. I was in the Treble Teens from 1969-1971. Like many women in the choir I learned valuable lessons about responsibility and teamwork from my experience.
Four years ago I had the privilege of writing a news story about Jocelyn Reimer Kent, a former Treble Teen, who was a University of British Columbia adjunct professor and the president of the Canadian Council of Cardiovascular Nurses. Jocelyn had developed an internationally recognized protocol for treating cardiac surgery patients.
During our interview, Jocelyn expressed appreciation for the lessons she’d learned while performing with the Treble Teens. She said director Shirley Penner helped her cultivate the confident stage presence she had needed to present her innovative ideas to audiences from across Canada and around the world.
Jocelyn’s story is one echoed by many of the Treble Teens I spoke with during our reunion weekend. Besides learning music skills their participation in the choir helped develop traits of leadership, loyalty and poise that served them well in life.
It was a treat to browse through the memorabilia on display at the Cultural Arts Centre during our Saturday morning brunch. Looking at photos of the choir from my era I was surprised I was still able to name almost all forty singers with whom I’d performed. I was delighted to see a copy of the record we’d made and found I could still recall the words and music to most of the songs we’d recorded like The Sleigh, Moody Manitoba Morning, Little David Play on Your Harp, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head and Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream.
Looking through scrapbook pages I was impressed by all the things our choir had done- participating in a multi-cultural show at the Centennial Concert Hall, recording radio and television programs, singing with the Winnipeg Symphony and travelling to other provinces to perform.
It was interesting to see how times had changed since the 1970s. I noted in newspaper articles about the Treble Teens, Shirley Penner, the group’s director and founder, was referred to by her husband’s first name rather than her own, and that the songs we sang frequently used words like brotherhood and man even though our choir was exclusively female.
I got teary at the concert when Arts Council President Frances Funk mentioned parent support. My parents paid for my participation in the Treble Teens and my voice lessons. They drove me to practices, came to my concerts and helped with fundraising. I was sad my Mom, who died a year ago couldn’t be at the reunion concert. She’d have loved it.
I bumped into my Carillon editor Grant Burr at the concert and when I told him I’d be writing a column about the reunion for this week’s paper he suggested, perhaps in jest, that I reveal the untold story of the Treble Teens. I haven’t done that, because, despite the inevitable behind the scenes politics that exist in any organization, the experience of singing in Treble Teens was overwhelmingly positive.
But I will leave you with one ‘inside scoop.’ Quite a number of former Treble Teens confessed that like me, they had their mouths open but weren’t really singing on those high notes at the concert on Friday night. After all, many of us are in our sixties and at least in my case, the only singing I’ve been doing of late is with my grandson.
Other posts about Steinbach……