“Chorus is the least stressful time of my week. Just spending this time and singing together with my singer friends is a real joy!” – Martina, chorus member
The act of singing has a powerful ability to heal and to nurture self-confidence. There are many stories among our members that can attest to this. An online search of the benefits of singing will find there are many, from lowered stress to increased aerobic capacity to strengthening the immune system to improved mood. Singing is said to be good for the brain since there is right and left brain activity at the same time with words and music. So sing more!
But participation in a choir brings additional rewards. Researchers found that members of a choir had their heart rates beat in unison in relation to the speed of their breathing. Now that is oneness! Other studies have shown that group singing boosts oxytocin levels, which help control stress and anxiety. Others found choral singing to be beneficial for social wellbeing and satisfaction with life. And of course there are the feelings of belonging to a group, of being needed (“Oh, we can’t do this song without that low middle single note!”).
“This is my first season with BWC & I have never met so many kind and welcoming people in my entire life.” – Lori
“Singing has the ability to instantly transport me to a place of spiritual bliss. Sharing this with 80 to 100 other women, who are also singing from their hearts, is just as about as good as life gets!” – Paula
“The culture in this chorus is so kind and caring. It makes me so happy to be part of this group.” – Vivian
Christiane Northrup, MD says in her book, “Making Life Easy”:
“I have often said that community equals immunity. And it’s true. All humans thrive on real connection, acceptance, and intimacy. Our bodies are profoundly affected by our interactions with those closest to us – our tribes. We are herd creatures, and with few exceptions, we do best, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, when we are part of a tribe that values us.
“ Finding your Soul family is a process, bit it’s so worth it in the end. The way to find your people is to start by asking yourself the following: ‘What am I interested in? What have I always wanted to know more about? Or to see and experience? What have I always wanted to try?’ And then let this truth be your guide: That which you are seeking is also seeking you.”
The Brattleboro Women's Chorus has participated in various community events over the past 20 years. There have been celebrations, weddings, commemorations, memorials, presentations to community groups, Christmas caroling, and Singing Valentines. We have sung on the sidewalk and on the stage; we’ve been on television (BCTV) and been featured on radio (WTSA, WKVT, and VPR!) We’ve been featured as part of the Strolling of the Heifers, a Take Back the Night event, International AIDS Day, Moment for Peace, and at area care facilities, among others. We occasionally also have fundraising events that are open to the public. Sharing the experience of choral singing is one of the great benefits of belonging to the Brattleboro Women's Chorus.
The Brattleboro Women's Chorus board of directors meets once a month at the Works at 7:15 am. Our board is vivacious, creative, supportive and full of wonderful energy (even at 7 am, which is saying a lot)! Read more about us, below!
Becky Graber, our Musical Director, is our fabulous leader and an inspiration to us all. If you want to know all about Becky, check out her bio here. In fact, she's so fabulous she even has her very own website!
Carrie Walker, our Vice President, is a Brattleboro Women's Chorus "lifer;" she hasn't missed a session since chorus began. She now also sings with groups from the Vermont Jazz Center as well as in a female a cappella quartet called "Singcrony." She finds singing to be one of life's greatest pleasures and at times a spiritual experience, and is grateful to Chorus for the opportunity over the years to find and free her voice.
Kate Traeger, our Secretary, has dabbled in many professions: naturalist, graphic designer, summer camp coordinator, Mad Scientist, performer, small business consultant and mother. She joined the chorus in 2005 and has been unable to stay away since! She loves her family, chocolate, lake time, hiking, snow play, traveling and coming home.
Ruth Wilmot, our Co-Treasurer, was coming to BWC concerts for 10 years before she finally joined the chorus and has been a member ever since! Ruth’s professional life has ranged from teaching social studies to 5th graders in Tokyo, to being a special events coordinator at a local college. She is currently working as an ADHD coach with both students and adults for the past 8 years. Ruth relishes rare opportunities to speak Japanese and seeing her daughter embrace world travel as well. She also enjoys hiking & traveling.
Betsy Williams, our Member-at-Large, was in the audience for the first BWC concert, joined that spring and has never left! She loves to sing and harmonize, finding it to be food for the spirit. She also plays stand-up bass and sings with friends in the "Seymour Sister" a small string band. She lives in Westminster West, works as a mediator in Greenfield Massachusetts, and when not singing, playing music or working, prefers to be outside hiking, biking, or skiing.
Becky moved to Brattleboro after graduation from Colgate University in 1977, drawn by friends, the Marlboro Music Festival, and the vibrant folk music scene. She quickly became involved in local music events, as a music teacher, piano teacher, singer, storyteller, and pianist. Becky moved to the New Hampshire seacoast in 1982, where she earned a Master’s degree in Education from Lesley College and began her storytelling career. She traveled throughout New England and beyond, teaching and performing in schools, libraries, festivals and theatres as a New Hampshire Touring Artist. Becky was delighted to have the chance to move back to Brattleboro in 1992 with her young daughter, Sarah, and husband, Tim Ellis. Son Jacob joined them all in 1993.
Looking for a creative path that was better suited to family life than constant touring, and hoping for something equally based on relationship and performance, Becky founded the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus in 1996. Weekly rehearsals and twice annual concerts became a constant source of learning and inspiration. She continued to do a variety of other creative work as both teacher and performer.
These days, Becky continues to teach music to elementary school students at Townshend Elementary School; she is the new director of the Animaterra Women’s Chorus in Keene, New Hampshire; she is the organist and choir director at Londonderry’s Second Congregational Church; she leads singalongs and glee clubs at local senior and day care facilities; she sings a cappella with “Big Woods Voices” and with the Hallowell singers; and she offers storytelling and music performances, vocal coaching, and singing workshops, both in Brattleboro and further afield.
For more information on Becky's programs, visit her website at: www.beckygraber.com
We prepare and present concerts, allowing women an opportunity to practice and improve their vocal skills, harmonize with others, and increase their self-esteem and confidence through music. Through community concerts and workshops, performed by the chorus and incorporating professional musicians, we provide rural audiences with an opportunity to experience live, quality group musical performances and gatherings.
Brattleboro Women's Chorus is active on Facebook and we send out regular newsletters to let you know about our events and upcoming sessions. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and welcome donations to help us meet operating expenses.