MUSKOKA – For the last 12 years, Muskoka Music Men have been offering a way to surprise loved ones with a unique Valentine’s gift while donating to charity.
Tanya Martin-Drysdale receives a Singing Valentine from her husband, Keith Drysdale. The Quartet is Young at Heart, from left to right, Darcy Dingle, John Verbeek, Ken Koehler and Mans Rogers.
/ Submitted photo
A Singing Valentine is sure to garner a reaction whether the performers show up at a residence, business, restaurant or even on the street said James Mossman, VP of marketing and press relations.
“It’s always fun to be able to sing for anyone, it’s our passion. It’s a lot of fun to see what kind of reaction we’ll get,” he said, noting ladies typically tear up while men blush. “People are touched by it.”
Most people know something’s up when a quartet dressed in formal attire with bright red vests arrive at the requested location.
Mossman said one of the most unusual locations the group has been sent to was a dump to sing for a woman and one of the most touching was in a home.
“There was one year that we had quite a challenge. There was a lady who we were suppose to sing to in the hospital,” he said. “She ended up having to go in for a procedure when we were scheduled; we had to reschedule two or three attempts and it wasn’t working. Every time we were scheduled to do something she was taken away, but then we finally did catch up to her on the last day (of bookings) and we were able to sing to her at home. I think that kind of worked out best. It was a nice welcome home for her. She was quite touched, one of those reactions where we did get some tears.”
With the purchase of a Singing Valentine, a quartet will sing two love songs, give the recipient chocolates and a red rose, a heart-shaped scented soap and a photo to remember the occasion.
“It was a very memorable and unique way to feel the love on Valentine’s day,” said Tanya Martin-Drysdale, a recipient from a previous year.
This is one of the Muskoka Music Men’s main fundraisers throughout the year, with proceeds from the initiative going toward the Harmonize for Speech Fund, which is supported by all Ontario Barbershop Harmony Society chapters.
The fund provides assistance to hospitals, clinics, treatment programs and speech pathologists in the field of speech and communication disorders. So far the society has raised about $5 million since its inception in 1972.
“Some of the training programs or software that gets developed as part of this funding really brings them (children and adults with speech problems) along, and to see them give a speech to a large group of Barbershoppers is impressive. It’s really heartwarming to see it work,” said Mossman.
The funding also goes back into the community.
“We’ve calculated that more money has come back into Muskoka than the Muskoka Music Men have raised, so it’s really great to be apart of that pool of money,” he said.
A Singing Valentine can be booked for either Feb. 13 or 14 for $50.
Bookings for a Singing Valentine can be made by calling Roy at 705-788-0225 or 705-380-1825, up until Valentine’s Day if there are still openings.