The Tourmaline Singers are a volunteer hospice choir based in the Waterville-Augusta area.
Founded in March 2008, our mission is to ease the passage of the dying through our singing and comforting presence.
Currently we have sixteen active singers, and are always open to new members who enjoy singing and wish to be of service to the dying and their families.
In late 2013 we established a relationship with Beacon Hospice and began receiving referrals to sing for their clients; we continue to honor requests from private individuals. Most of us have received hospice volunteer training, from Beacon or in some cases from other organizations such as Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area.
In addition to singing for terminally ill individuals and their loved ones, we occasionally sing at memorial services, as well as for groups at churches, nursing homes, and events related to end-of-life care. During the last twelve months (November 2013 through October 2014) we have sung for fifteen individuals (including eleven Beacon referrals). We have also sung at the annual meeting of the Funeral Consumers’ Alliance, the Lights for Life ceremony sponsored by Hospice Volunteers of the Waterville Area, the Longest Night service sponsored by four local Methodist churches, the Annual Remembrance Ceremony of the Hospice Volunteers of Somerset County, and two private memorial services.
We gratefully accept donations but never solicit them. Our expenses are very modest, mostly for sheet music and photocopying, and so far donations have been more than sufficient to meet our needs.
It is our hope that as awareness of our hospice choir grows, more people will consider this service for their loved ones approaching the end of life.
Central Maine’s Tourmaline Singers provide a special brand of soul music
The choir gathers at the bedside of the dying, as well as those who just need a boost, to lift spirits and soothe souls.
By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling Staff Writer
Vayo believes that music has healing properties that can help improve a wide range of medical issues, a proposition that has it backers in both the scientific and religious communities. The idea, referred to broadly as music therapy, has begun to gain ground in scientific circles over the past 20 years.
Vayo, with his unfailing positive energy and unflappable calm, is an ideal leader for the group.
Vayo is not a fully credentialed music therapist, but he is a certified music practitioner, a title he received after being trained to play healing music at the bedside of the sick and dying by the New York-based Music for Healing and Transition Program
Vayo, and the program that certified him, say science does show that music improves health. Its website lists about 100 research studies, most of them published in peer-reviewed journals over the last 20 years, that have measured the positive impact of music on everything from infant birth weight to pain levels. The studies show music can improve the efficiency of an MRI, reduce the number of outbursts of an agitated dementia patient and improve the memory of people with Alzheimer’s.
Much of the impact seems to be from the power of music to distract patients from pain and discomfort, trigger their emotions and help them connect to the world and people around them.
“This is a little different from music that eases the dying process,” Vayo said. “Music can help do things like boost the immune system, to help lower blood pressure and help in the release of endorphins, which are sort of natural painkillers.”
As Vayo leads the group in song, he exudes both poise and kindness in equal portions, two character traits that have inspired confidence from the group’s members. The ease with which he describes concepts hint at a deep reservoir of knowledge about both music and hospice care.
To learn more about the services provided by the Tourmaline Singers, call Harry Vayo at 313-9418. There is no charge, but several days advance notice should be given if possible.
Prospective members are also welcome. If you are interested in pursuing more information about supporting the Tourmaline Singers please click on the button below.