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Niagara Falls
Friday, March 1, 2024
Ross’s Ramblings: For important occasions, let’s avoid the sounds of silence
It was hard to hear speakers during the Remembrance Day ceremonies. The town used an audio professional during council’s inaugural meeting. We need more of that, says Ross Robinson. File

Time after time it happens, here and elsewhere. People gather to celebrate an occasion, to hear a speech, to enjoy a concert or to celebrate the life of a loved one.

Or, to hear the skirl of the pipes as we Scots seize another opportunity to share our ancestral music.

Plans are made, entertainers and speakers organized, and then so often, organizers forget about “the sound.”

Yes, Remembrance Day by our Niagara-on-the-Lake cenotaph had so many stars aligning.

Citizens and visitors enduring a rainy morning. The weather reminded us all that life in the World War One trenches was often miserable.

Rain, cold, sleet, wet blankets, cold canned meat, day after day, week after week, month after month. Food poisoning, head lice, lack of medical attention for the sick and wounded.

And in NOTL, most of us had umbrellas. The brave men in the trenches were at the mercy of Mother Nature. Soaking wet and chilled. Ugh! How did they keep their morale up?

So, I am not really complaining about the sound system. But please, it’s time to bite the bullet and spend some money to upgrade the sound system.

Perhaps the Town of NOTL could front the money, or maybe one of our town’s many generous philanthropists would see this as a worthy cause.

An adequate sound system – which could be rented out at a fair price for community centre functions, Remembrance Day and the “Candlelight Stampede” opening ceremonies and carol singing, and Navy Hall events – could be purchased on a cost-recovery basis. Trust me, it won’t break the bank.

I can assure event organizers it will be a few bucks well spent to have a qualified sound technician on-site, just in case the inevitable occurs. And this pro can give a two-minute primer on the effective use of a microphone.

Frustration and embarrassment will be avoided and attendees will receive maximum enjoyment from the experience.

As a hearing-impaired person, I am resigned to straining to hear. That’s one reason I always try to sit in the front row or pew. At the Remembrance Day ceremony, only during the Minute of Silence did I not feel a bit short changed

And at this year’s Candlelight Stampede, upcoming this Friday, even our singing of “Silent Night” will be more enjoyable if an adequate sound system is in place, set up and monitored by a sound technician. Just in case, eh?

As we move through our lives, we are constantly reminded of the subtle importance of sound, or silence. Drive along Lakeshore Road toward St. Catharines and enjoy a rural break at the MacSween family’s appropriately named Quiet Acres.

No need for speakers and amplifiers there. (They’re closed till spring, but there’s always such a variety of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, and such enthusiastic and knowledgeable farmers to help. Always the best.)

At our magnificent NOTL Library, reasonable noise is permitted, except in the Designated Quiet Room. On its door, the following words serve as reminders: ZIP IT. SHH! Pipe Down. HUSH. Shush. Use Your Inside Voice. Quiet Please. SILENCE. KEEP IT DOWN.

Well-selected words. Courteously presented. Often, we need good sound. Other times, we need good silence.

Now, I’m off to attempt to replace the batteries in my hearing aids.

Life is tough, eh? And as me Mom said so often as she aged gracefully, “Old age isn’t for sissies.” Let’s help out by overspending on sound.

Rambling Note: Congrats all round, regarding the Nov. 22 town function at the old Court House, inaugurating our new town council. Well-paced and I was sorry to miss the reception later.

Credit where credit is due. The audio system worked well and there was a professional audio technician in attendance, “just in case.”

I could hear every word without straining, from Jeffersonian quotations to family introductions.

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