Bethlehem Woods Chimers Create Beautiful Music at The Birches

Residents of the Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills, Ill. were treated to a special musical performance by the Bethlehem Woods Chimers on July 27.

Clarendon Hills, IL, August 05, 2016 --( Residents of the Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills, Ill. were treated to a special musical performance on July 27. It wasn’t a performance by a professional musician or band but rather one from older adults just like them.

The musical guests were residents from Bethlehem Woods Retirement Community in LaGrange Park and their instrument of choice is one you don’t see every day— the chimes.

The novelty of their performance drew a large crowd at The Birches; many Birches residents had never seen a chime performance before. And it was that same novelty that drew Bethlehem Woods residents to join the group in the first place.

When Bethlehem Woods music instructor Dolores Groch dug out an old set of chimes, she was struck with inspiration for a new musical outlet for residents. And her idea struck a chord with residents too. A steady stream of residents have joined the group since it began five years ago.

Resident Dorothy Robble has been a part of the group since the beginning, and she was eager to join, even though she doesn’t know how to read a note of music.

“Sometimes people are afraid to join because they think you have to know how to read music, but I don’t know how to read one note,” said Robble. “Our instructor Dolores takes care of it. She marks our books so anyone can join, regardless of their musical experience.”

Presently, there are 12 members in the group, although there have been as many as 15 in past. They practice once a week, and their musical abilities are steadily progressing.

“Some of us are 95 years old, so sometimes we have memory problems or we miss practice because of doctors’ appointments. Most of us don’t have musical experience. But we do the very best we can,” said Robble.

For their performance at the Birches, the group started with their simplest song—“Mary Had a Little Lamb”—but ultimately moved on to more sophisticated numbers like the South Pacific classics “I’m Going to Wash that Man Right Out of My Hair” and “There’s Nothing Like a Dame.”

This was the Bethlehem Woods Chimers first performance outside of the Bethlehem Woods community, but the members of the group felt it was by far their best.

“We thought we would have 20 people or so in the audience. But once we got there, people just kept coming and coming,” said Robble. “We had them singing with us, and they really enjoyed that. And we really enjoyed being there.”

The chimers decided to give their first outside performance at The Birches because they have a special personal connection to The Birches community. The Birches’ Activities Director Katie Klitchman used to work as the Activities Assistant at Bethlehem Woods. One resident also recently moved to The Birches from Bethlehem Woods, so the performance was like a Birches-Bethlehem Woods reunion of sorts.

“The Chimers’ performance was really a great event for them and us,” said Birches’ Activities Director Katie Klitchman. “We were all really happy to see each other, and it was wonderful to bring the two communities together for an event that gave so much joy to residents on both sides.”

The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills, Ill. offers professional services to support the physical, social, intellectual and spiritual growth of the older adults who make it their home. The Birches offers purposeful programming and activities designed to promote a healthy aging lifestyle and a strong sense of community. For more information about The Birches, call 630-789-1135 or visit:
The Birches Assisted Living
Jenny Smiechowski