With thanks to outgoing officers and installation of new officers at its April 29 meeting, the Barron Federated Music Club concluded its 110th year.

That deserves a drum roll, if not a standing ovation, during this National Music Week, celebrated each year during the first full week of May to appreciate of the value of music in the home, the community, the nation and the world.

The Barron Music Club is one of only a few music clubs remaining in the state and the last one standing in Barron County. Dallas, Rice Lake, Cumberland and Almena once had Federated Music Clubs, but their activities have decrescendoed and faded away.

Keeping the melody going over time in the Barron club are a core group who have been members for more than 50 years. Two of them, Sharlot Nelson and Paula Hong, are the mothers of  outgoing president Karyn Schauf and incoming president Heidi Hong Olson. Many others have been active for more than 20 or 30 years, adding  harmony and fanfare.

The satisfaction that belonging to such as organization brings can be evidenced by the longevity of their membership.

Mrs. C.C. (Blanch) Morrison, a charter member, was a member for 45 years, but several current club members have topped that record—five have been members for more than 50 years, and one for more than 60 years.

Schauf  said, “Today’s roster of almost 20 strong continues to dedicate themselves to the purpose of the federation’s goal ‘to bring the spiritualizing force of music to the inner life of our nation.’”

She said membership is open but about at an optimum level at this time.

“One enjoyable factor is we do still meet in the homes and keeping membership to about 20 allows us to continue to do so,” Schauf said.

Starting notes

A club history, read by the outgoing president at the meeting, follows:

“The Barron Federated Music Club in 2019 is a result of the countless contributions women have made to the course of Barron’s history.

“Its roots are found in the Barron Women’s Club, organized in 1909, with eight charter members. Often referred to as The Barron Study Club, these women met every 2 weeks promoting individual growth and providing education and training through the various “papers” they presented. Their optics were wide and varied, from social issues, citizenship and taxes, to famous people, places and modern inventions.

“They undertook community issues, as well as working to begin a kindergarten in Barron, pressing for music teachers in each school, serving hot lunch themselves at the high school during days of absence by “the domestic science teacher” and pressing the City Council to purchase waste cans for the city.

“In 1916, the club adopted a constitution and bylaws,  and in 1917 was received into the Wisconsin Federation of Women’s Clubs. There was a waiting list for their limited membership of 25. Music was almost always included in their meetings and activities.

“About 1925, four women began getting together one afternoon a week to help satisfy their love of music. There was one pianist, one soprano and two alto singers. They played and sang music suited to their ability. At the end of the afternoon, they were joined by their husbands for supper at the home of the hostess.

“In 1929, or 90 years ago, the Barron Women’s Club decided to become a “departmental” club, which allowed the four musical members to be joined by others with musical talents. They became the “music department” of the women’s club.

“Then in 1934, or 85 years ago, 16 of the members voted to join the State Federation of Music Clubs rather than to be a part of the women’s club. The club immediately became very active both locally and in the Wisconsin Federation of Music Clubs.

“Over its 110-year history, the Barron Music Club has studied many composers and examples of their work, music of different countries, different eras of music, and the study and singing of hymns.”

All of the club’s activities are neatly and creatively documented in club scrapbooks that have become treasures filled with memories and achievements.

One scrapbook article, now yellowed with age, noted, “Our country has always been a singing America. Songs of work, play, humor, religion, love,lamentation and war have dotted the progress throughout the years. They have been poured forth, spontaneously by our cowboys, searchers for gold, cotton pickers, sailors, soldiers, lumberjacks, farmers, teamsters, mountaineers, each in characteristic style, always varied and in the mood of the moment. We, like the older countries, have an abundance of music that is indigenous to American soil.”

Hitting the highlights

Club highlights have included singing in hospitals and nursing homes, raising funds for the Barron Area Community Center’s grand piano, bringing Young Audience programs into Barron public schools and providing scholarships for many to attend summer music camps and clinics.

In addition, the club has brought culture and enjoyment to the community through numerous musical venues.

For fun, they’ve taken bus trips to symphonies, concerts and operas.

“My greatest enjoyment comes from developing programs and yearly themes for our club, which in turn helps us raise funds for students in our school district,” said Kathee Yamada. “I believe in supporting music education and feel it helps to develop a well-rounded curriculum within our schools.”

Laurie Church, a 58-year member  was asked to join the music club when she was a teacher at the Barron County Center School on Hwy. 25 south and led her Grade 1-8 students in a Rural Music Night each year at the Jerome residence.

Her favorite club memories are the Parade of American Music events held each February at the Barron High School, open to the public, that featured patriotic music and homemade pies.

“Belonging to the Barron Federated Music Club has given me the opportunity to continue my lifelong love of music and to promote it,” said 58-year member Sharlot Nelson.  “I also enjoy and maintain friendships with others who have the same interests.  A favorite memory I will always remember is doing The Charleston dance with two others, costumes in-cluded for an ‘every member participation’ program—just a ‘few’ years ago!”

Ruth Anderson remarked, “I joined the Barron Federated Music Club fresh out of college and throughout my entire professional life as a teacher and composer.

“I continually experience two constants:

1.  This organization has remained relevant through the changing years. BFMC was the first music organization to offer a music technology information workshop open to the public when music and computer first began being used together....We host, support, and sponsor concerts of current music —the most recent being Chris Kroeze to kick off his new tour and Rachel Hanson in The Last Revel with ‘front porch Americana’. We remain active on the national and state levels.

“2. We work for music in our schools, community, nursing homes, churches, theaters, concert halls, music therapy, radio, television, recordings, internet, etc. We are all inclusive, all ages, all genres.

Anderson added, “We know and promote the importance of music for each child and throughout life. This is our basic premise. Music enhances every life—not only as performers, but as educated listeners and hobbyists.  It  adds to a well-rounded life, makes us happy and can brighten a down day.”

Jean Liden shared, “I have been a member of  BFMC since 1963.  I have twice served as club president, a district president and as a state board chairman for many years. I count my friendships in music club as some of my closest and most rewarding experiences.”

Karyn Schauf said, “Mary Ella [Jerome] has been a huge music club member following in the steps of her mother Marion. Our scholarships are in memory of Marion E. Jerome.”

Heidi Olson Hong remarked, “The BFMC has enriched our community in many ways, not only by supporting music in our schools and churches but by enabling so many to enjoy, participate, and enrich their lives through music, young or not so young, sharing and caring about one another; music inspires us to make a difference.”


Since its founding in 1898, the National Federation of Music Clubs is the  largest nonprofit organization in America promoting and supporting American music, performers and music education.

As a grassroots organization working in communities throughout America, it provides musical opportunities for all ages—professional and amateur musicians, benefactors, volunteers, music lovers, music teachers, music students, and supportive parents.

Among the many opportunities and activities in which more than 135,000 members participate are festival programs, competitive events, and community outreach.

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

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