Ken Medema on music,travel,life.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's My Birthday

Well it's happened! I'm 65 now and that means I can get social security and in some jobs and in some periods of time, I might have been seriously thinking about retiring at this point.

I have none of that sense at all. It seems that in the last few years, I am singing better, having more fun, loving my work, and feeling more passionate about the job than ever. My renewed commitment to "Congregational Singing" has given me some energy which I really enjoy. I have said often that I believe people need to sing. Whether it's in the church or not, people need to sing together and the church has always believed that singing was very important. I want to be a part of the continuing task of revitalizing group singing in the communities of believers. To that end, I have begun a series of meetings with people who are involved in this task, as well, and I hope this new set of friends that I haven't even met yet will teach me and help me developed new skills and ideas that are now only a gleam in the eye.

Of course, there will be other new projects: cds, compositions, and the like, but it's this commitment to "The Singing of the People" that has me jumping up and down right now.

Happy Birthday to me, I’m 65 and just getting started!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Everybody Sing

It seems that people are thinking and talking about communal singing these days more than they have in recent years. Even so notable a musical figure as Brian Eno has said that he believes that group singing can contribute to a longer and better quality life. Shucks, as a music therapist I've known this for years. A lot of what I do is to try to get folks to sing together. Thanks, Brian ,for the reinforcement.

I'd love to hear from people about whether and how much they get a chance to sing with groups of people. We're not talking choral singing in particular just any old singing. Wouldn't it be cool if physicians would encourage their patients to sing?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you are enjoying the holiday and giving thanks for the peope who are around you. You might want to say thanks by giving them their own song for the holidays this year. Go to and click on Personal Songs. I would be thankful to you!

Friday, November 21, 2008

'Tis a Gift to be Simple

Many of us know that old shaker hymn "'tis a gift to be simple". I have loved it for years. This year I am building my advent concerts around the idea of simple gifts. In these times I think it is absolutely crucial that we find gifts to give each other stretch our imagination beyond just spending more money. I have already suggested the 20 minute storytelling time for families using both recorded and read stories and also stories told or made up by members of the family.

What about the gift of time, what about the gift of my hands to help you with work around your house? What about the gift of twelve dinners brought to your - one each month? What about the gift of my presence to a lonely relative? What about the gift of going with you on that walk which you so desperately need to get your exercise?

I want to focus my shows this season on stories of simple gifts. Perhaps we can help each other to reinvent Christmas giving just a little bit. Don't forget that personal songs are still available for a couple of weeks. Go to and click on Personal Songs.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Old Stories Made New

The end-of-year holidays are coming around again and I am glad to have "The Littlest Angel” on my CD table this year. When my friend, Eileen MacDargh, approached me with the idea of producing a CD with the reading of the Charles Tazewell story, I was quickly captured by the idea. The story is about this clumsy, lonely little angel who can't find an elegant gift for the Christ child so he offers the humble play things that gave him comfort as a human child. His gift, of course, is chosen to become the star that lights the way to the manger.

When Tazewell's friend and copy write holder heard our recording, she gave us another of his stories, "The Littlest Snowman", and we recorded that as well. The reading of the stories is accompanied by music and song. I think it's a great way to plan some sweet family time during the holiday season. Start by listening to one of these stories and build on the experience by finding other stories to read and things to talk about. I would love see people take 20 minutes each day in December to hang out with family for a time of story telling. To buy "The Littlest Angel" CD, go to my website and find it in the store.

It's all about Kids

My friend Steve McCurdy has written this delightful little book called "The Innkeeper". The book contains a CD with the reading of the story and song and incidental music by yours truly. This could be another resource for that family time I've been writing about.
You can order the book from my website at and if you hurry, you can use it all through the holiday season.

As I post this, I am in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada getting ready to celebrate the 30th anniversary of a children's choir called "Joyful Noise". Not only do they sing, but they are very much involved in mission projects and a very special summer camp for special needs kids. How fortunate does one get to be a part of such cool stuff!