With a background in vocal performance (earning a music degree from Bethel College), it was only natural that Janet Ediger would be led to join the Newton Senior Center's — now Grand Central — Golden Notes choir.
Originally, when the choir was formed in 2014, Ediger answered the call for sopranos needed to fill the parts. Shortly thereafter, though, she was asked by a friend if she would be interested in taking over as director — as said friend would be moving and could no longer fulfill that duty.
Thinking it over, the previous director's relocation forced a quick decision out of Ediger — after she had just started practicing with the group as a member of the choir. While the role may have been thrust on her, she was happy to help out and has been pleased to be a part of the Golden Notes in that capacity for about four years now.
"It's been a good ride," Ediger said. "I've really enjoyed the group."
Ediger noted she had been involved with many community choirs prior to Golden Notes, including the Newton Chorale and Treble Clef women's choir — the latter of which she has also directed for some time.
Part of the draw for Ediger, she said, is that as church choirs go towards performing more arrangements in unison, community choirs are continuing the tradition of four-part harmonies — a joyful experience for all involved.
Averaging two performances per month out at local churches, senior centers, assisted living facilities, etc. (and rehearsing weekly), while the Golden Notes do not take themselves too seriously, there is also a sense of fulfillment that comes with putting on a good show for the community.
"We have fun, but I don't want to go out not sounding pretty good," Ediger said. "There's a certain satisfaction, and for all of us, I think we need to feel good — and we do, it's been going well."
So well, in fact, that Ediger was recently recognized for her commitment working with the choir as she was selected as a recipient of a Cheerios Goodness Grant given out to "Baby Boomers doing great things in their communities."
That grant, Ediger said, will help pay for music for the group — which it often has to borrow from area churches or Newton High School.
On top of helping with the Golden Notes choir, Ediger also volunteers her time helping at New Hope Shelter, with the Kansas Mennonite Relief sale, MCC meat canning, Bethel College Threshing Crew and more. Helping with local choirs, whether singing or directing, is something she noted she will always gravitate towards though because of the joy it helps spread in the community.
"Music is universal and people just always enjoy programs and want this," Ediger said. "It takes a commitment, like every week, but I just find it's really a good thing to do to help out, to give pleasure, give inspiration to people, to groups and that type of thing."
Performing all over the area, from Newton to Moundridge to Hesston, Ediger said the best part of the experience is exceeding expectations — with the Golden Notes not afraid to tackle some challenging music.
Going outside of its normal performance schedule, Ediger noted the group has also been asked to perform at a reception for local veterans participating in the Honor Flight program. Both director and choir members alike felt that experience in particular was very meaningful, though Ediger stated the same could be said about volunteer work in general — a statement that rings true when it comes to her involvement with the Golden Notes.
"I think everybody feels good after they've given in service some way," Ediger said. "It's just a busy world ... but really the most rewarding thing is giving of yourself to others. This group has really been a joy to me."