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Weekly Speaker Program

May 15, 2017: Brian Farrell, Vocal Coach and Artistic Director of Revv 52.

Robyn Braley introduced our guest speaker, Brian Farrell, artistic director of Revv 52, a group that sings contemporary music. Their next performances, called Vinyl Spin, will be June 1 - 3 at the Bella Concert Hall at Mount Royal University.

Brian Farrell Brian is also a vocal trainer in a variety of music styles and does professional workshops. Brian directs a choir for patients with Parkinson's Disease as part of a research program at the University of Calgary. Brian studied at the University of Western Michigan and completed his Master of Arts at San Diego State University.

Brian began by challenging us to remember the music we listened to when we were 14 years old. He said you just don't forget that music. When you play music that Parkinson's patients know and love, they get their groove on and can improve their walking and functioning with music.

He talked about how music engages the brain. He had a vinyl record with him and he pointed out the uniqueness of the record and that experts can tell a lot just by looking at a vinyl record. He talked a lot about the groove of the music and demonstrated on the keyboard a song out of the groove. Classic conservatory music teaches firstly the groove, and then the story and then technique.

For many of the great voices we identified: Roger Whittaker, Kenny Rogers, and Frank Sinatra, Brian pointed to their great storytelling. Storytelling colours the words. Brian referenced several books that help explain the brain and music.

There were also handouts on the tables. If anyone would like a copy of the handout, this reporter would be glad to forward it to you.

Brian references the brain and music. Music connects to memory where we were and where we want to be. Don't deny, embrace music! Activate the brain and memories and enthusiasm. Of the five senses, smell is the most effective. Brian often requests in his artistic directing that he wants "more smell".

Brian referenced the singer Adele when talking about voice physiology. He says the voice does not have to be perfect to be great! He notes his own childhood when gatherings at their home would find him playing the piano as guests and family engaged in a good old sing-along.

Alzheimer's, Dementia and Parkinson's Disease patients' behaviour around music is amazing. Music can help. The brain speaks as you enter the room of a new experience. If we use our voice we can remind ourselves to use our senses and experience.

Brian does 500 to 600 auditions every year and the best performers are the best story tellers. At this point he invited us to call out our favourite musicians - Elton John, Mills Bros, Little Richard, Len Brown, Peter Paul and Mary, Rolling Stones. His recent favourite concert was Brian Wilson, layered and dimensional in his performance. He challenged us to listen for the groove in music we say we don't like. Invite and embrace music of your lives, enjoy long life.

Tony Knight, who loves the music of the 60s, thanked Brian Farrell for bringing his passion to Rotary during our Jubilee Year and presented him with our limited edition Boltman.

  • Tony Knight and Brian Farrell Tony Knight and Brian Farrell

reported by Marie Rickard

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