TC AZ is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) Charity - AZ QCO Code 22218
Tremble Clefs grew from a Parkinson’s support group in Scottsdale Arizona in 1994. Karen Hesley, a speech pathologist at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital, had just finished a specialized training in Lee Silverman Voice Treatment. Frank Halpin, leader of the Parkinson’s support group, invited her to speak.
Members were already singing around the piano after their programs. Sue Cardew played the piano. Sue had early onset Parkinson’s disease. When Karen Hesley met with the group, together they explored the idea of starting a singing group for people with Parkinson’s and thus Tremble Clefs was formed.
Founding members included Frank Halpin, Ned Brooks, Vince and Faith Blenkle, Bob Jackson, Helen Williams, George and Ethel Goldstein, Warren and Janet Meter, Rosemary Aubin, and Sue Cardew, the accompanist who devotedly played for the group for years. Early on Bill and Delores Wheelock joined and in Bill the group gained an experienced conductor. Ned Brooks contributed the name “The Tremble Clefs.”
In 2001 Karen Hesley moved to California and the Tremble Clefs, meeting in Scottsdale’s Granite Reef Senior Center, continued on with a new director. Karen quickly established a Tremble Clefs in San Diego, the first of several in Southern California.
In Arizona in 2002, Kellie Walker assumed directorship of Tremble Clefs. A music therapist, her husband had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. This added to Kellie’s insight into the impact of Parkinson’s on a person and on the family.
During these years, under volunteer Don Dotts's leadership, the group received grant funding from a variety of organizations, including the William L. and Ruth T. Pendleton Memorial Trust and the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. Other donors included the Parkinson Network of Arizona. Since its beginning, members of the group, along with their families and friends, contributed money to support Tremble Clefs. Aside from professional music therapists and accompanists, all the work is done by volunteers.
In 2008, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center contacted Ms. Lee to establish a music therapy group for people with Parkinson’s in Sun City. Sun Joo Lee had just graduated from Arizona State University with two Master’s degrees, one in Vocal Performance and one in Music Therapy. March 5, 2008, under her direction, the West Side Tremble Clefs held their first meeting in the Shepherd of the Desert Lutheran Church, Sun City. In November 2008, the Original Tremble Clefs invited Ms. Lee to become their Music Director.
Founding members of the West Side Tremble Clefs were Jim & Mary Cogan, Wyman Andrus, Inga & Bill Doherty, Beth Lee and Richard "Mac" McConnell. Don Dotts leader of the Scottsdale group was most helpful. Beth Lee has written about the group's early days in the "Singers and Songs" where she writes about her own and Gregg Owens roles in the Sun City choir.
Collaborating, Tremble Clefs in the Southwest have held three workshops. Participants gathered from different groups to sing, learn vocal strategies, exchange information and ideas and learn from experts as well as from each other. The most recent workshop was in Phoenix in May 2014. The two Arizona Tremble Clefs cosponsored a “Music Therapy Retreat” which had 152 in attendance.
In 2018 a milestone was reached as the two choral groups incorporated as “Tremble Clefs Arizona” to be managed by a Board of Directors from both choirs. In May 2018, the organization was granted non-profit status by the IRS.
Tremble Clefs continues to grow. In 2019, thanks to the work of Kirk Hall of the West Side group, Tremble Clefs Arizona received a community grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation for the purpose of starting two new Tremble Clefs groups in Maricopa County.
In 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tremble Clefs Arizona ceased in person meetings and continued music therapy sessions on Zoom. There were 4 Zoom meetings a week.
In January 2022, Tremble Clefs began a return to meeting in person and also continue with online Zoom meetings. TC AZ has seen a loss of members. At this time members of the North West Group have moved into the West Side group. In July 2021, thanks to the work of Sun Joo Lee, TC AZ received a grant from the Parkinson's Foundation to start a new group in Mesa. Mesa Tremble Clefs also received two generous donations from the Venture Out Foundation.
In December 2022, Tremble Clefs Arizona received a $10,000 grant from a Charitable Family Foundation in Maricopa County. It was unsolicited. Their announcement letter said in part: ". . . family foundation established to support non-profit organizations that make our community a better place to live."
In July 2023, Congresswomen Debbie Lesko, Arizona 8th District, awarded the West Side Tremble Clefs with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for their "deditcation and service to the community." That same month, the Sundial Men's Club, an active organization in Sun City, presented the West Side TC with a $5,000 donation. We continue to receive donations from private foundations and individuals which are much appreciated. We could not continue without donations and without volunteers.
We will continue to work to make our community a better place to live for those who are suffering from Parkinson's disease and their families.
The above photo is of Tremble Clefs and Muhammad Ali in March 1997. At that time Karen Hesley was the Director and the group had a close association with the newly established Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.
In 2021, Tremble Clefs Arizona received a community grant from the Parkinson's Foundation. The funds of the grant are earmarked for the establishment of a new Tremble Clefs in Mesa, Arizona.