Music director brings Frolics to life

The tie that binds any production for television, the silver screen, theater and other stage shows is music. Music sets the mood, the emotions and the pace of the show.

Bringing musical life to the Senior Frolics 2000 production is Bobbie Dowell, musical director.

Dowell began piano lessons at the age of 8. She grew up in rural Oklahoma and played for church and school groups while attending junior and senior high schools. Her love for music was strong.

"I was bound and determined to go to college," said Dowell.

"I auditioned to go to the University of Oklahoma and I got in. But I changed my major to vocal music education. After getting my degree, I went to Denver to teach at the elementary school level."

Dowell taught in Denver for four years, then went to Alaska and taught in various school districts.

In 1962, Dowell pretty much got out of the field of music and went to work for the state government, working in personnel and administration. She moved to Carson City in 1978, and back to Alaska in 1984. She retired from the state in 1987 at the age of 52.

"It was one of the smartest things I ever did."

Though living in Seattle shortly after retirement, Dowell kept in touch with her friends in Carson City. She purchased a condo in Carson City, through the mail, and moved back.

"I didn't want to be retired in Seattle," she said.

Dowell got back into music after her return to Carson City. She was asked to play background music, on the piano, for singers at a volunteer appreciation dinner at the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.

She started a sing-a-long, and soon the "Singing Seniors" began in March 1991.

"I was recruiting through word of mouth. After nine years, I now have 35 people on the roster. And they are the best bunch of people ever.

"We sing once a month at lunch time at the center, and started getting asked by civic groups to sing for their luncheons and Christmas parties. I tell anyone, if you like to sing, then come. There are no auditions because you sing in a group."

Dowell has also been the director of the handbell choir at First United Methodist Church in Carson City the past two and a half years.

It is fortunate for the community of Carson City that Dowell didn't enter the college field she wanted - math.

"My mom said 'No.' Not after all the money they had invested in lessons. I was going into music. If she were alive, she'd be so proud of me," said Dowell, with a big smile.

Dowell has been musical director for all performances of the Senior Follies and this year's Senior Frolics 2000. Though she was trained for classical piano, she enjoys popular music. She can also play by ear.

"This is right up my alley, playing tunes of the Fabulous Forties. I enjoy the '40s music. It's just really super.

"Being musical director and my involvement with the Singing Seniors has been a lot of fun and very rewarding for me. Just to see the smiles on their faces is reward enough. They have all made new friends. Lots of times after rehearsal, they stick around and get acquainted with each other, then sing as they leave.

"Their smiles - that's my reward."


What: Senior Frolics 2000

When: 7 p.m. May 25 and 2 p.m. May 27

Where: Carson City Community Center

Tickets: $10 ($8 for seniors and children under 12), available at the community center, Carson Senior Center or Gottschalks.

The Community Outreach Program began four years ago at the Carson City Recreation Department through grant monies from the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

Recreation Superintendent Barbara Singer was able to procure funds for two years, but not a third. Since the program's directive is the youth of the community, the programs were held in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada.

Cathy Blankenship, director of the Boys and Girls Club in Carson City, was able to get money through other sources to continue the programs.

"The Community Outreach Program operates in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club, it is a joint project," said Singer.

"The programs were specific to neighborhoods, like the Sagebrush/Broadleaf and Woodside areas. We have been able to go into those neighborhoods to get the kids involved. The purpose of the program is to get these kids active."

Blankenship has received $15,000 to pay for a transit system to begin in June, that will bring the kids to the Boys and Girls Club.


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