After the Making of “Rays of Hope”, What’s Next?

SOHP is a small but mighty non-profit. Its mission is to provide calming and/or uplifting recorded music to those in need, in particular those in nursing homes, hospices, hospitals, shut-ins, bereavement groups, etc. So how do SOHP board members reach those in need once a CD is published?

Below are a few of SOHP’s avenues to “get the word out” about its CDs:

1) SOHP’s “Give and Get” donation program – For every $10 donation, one CD is given to a nursing home, hospice, etc. or someone in need. As SOHP’s ‘thank you’, the donor gets one CD of their choice.
2) SOHP’s trifold brochure – This marketing piece explains what SOHP is all about, accompanies every CD, and is placed in several offices around town.
3) Press Releases – When a new CD is released, we send the area newspapers press releases and hope to have an article printed in the newspapers.
4) Mailing CDs to institutions our donors specify or to people our donors have identified as people in need.
5) Calling the nursing homes, hospices, etc. that have received SOHP’s CDs in the past and asking if they would like additional CDs.
6) Offering to buy CD players for the institutions that have our CDs
7) Occasionally having a concert to help increase awareness of SOHP and announce the release of a new CD
8) Participating in the Christmas Craft Fair at a local church, St. Albert the Great – Playing our CDs and seeking donations at our table
9) Sending articles to the board’s alumni magazines when a new CD is released — With the goal to reach more people, we hope to get these articles published.
10) Encouraging word of mouth publicity among our friends, families, colleagues, fellow members of organizations to which we belong, etc.
11) Posting on Facebook

We welcome any ideas you might have to help SOHP reach its mission.

The Making of SOHP’s newest CD, “Rays of Hope” – Part IV

Graphic Designing and Kunaki Downloading –

Once the information for the entire CD is finalized, it is turned over to a graphic designer. Fortunately, one of our board members, Lauren Haas Amanfoh, owner of Royalton Music Center, graciously donates her graphic designer’s time and talents to the SOHP project.

SOHP uses Kunaki Production Company to produce the finished CD product. There are specific size requirements for the cover, inside information, the CD and the back title information. Also, all materials must be submitted in jpeg format. After the graphic designer has resized the materials to Kunaki’s correct specifications and has recreated them into jpeg, she sends all the files back to me. My job then is to download these files along with the music files onto the Kunaki site.

Downloading the written files is quite easy for me. However, I find downloading the music files the hardest. I struggle technically and often have to redo my downloads several times because of some simple problem or error. I allow a full day to this step and always double check that the music files have indeed been downloaded properly. Kunaki suggests ordering one sample CD to make sure everything is the way it should look and sound. (This is great advice. I once received a completed CD that looked great but had no music on the CD! My mistake, of course.)

The Making of SOHP’s newest CD, “Rays of Hope” – Part III

Part III has always seemed to be the hardest, most tedious part of the production process for any of SOHP’s CDs. 1) Finding a title, 2) creating a cover picture, 3) deciding on the order of pieces, and 4) creating the inside bio information takes time – lots of time and energy.

Steps 1 & 2 –Finding a title and creating a cover picture: Most of SOHP’s CDs have been “______ of hope” titles. In the past, the title for the CD came before the cover picture. However, for this CD, finding a cover photo first helped with zeroing in on a title.
Since this CD was all piano music, I searched the internet for “piano” themed pictures. Shutterstock had several very nice piano subject photos. I emailed several of my favorites to the board members and asked them for their input. One photo stood out among the rest. It was a black and white photo with a hand perched ever so slightly above the piano keys ready to play. A soft ray of light shone from above the right side of the picture. The title “Rays of Hope” came from this simple yet striking photo.

Step 3 — Deciding on the order of pieces: We recorded 17 pieces. The number of possible combinations and order of these 17 was rather intimidating! I listened to the pieces over and over again and came up with 4 combinations I liked. I then gave a CD to my husband and to each of the board members asking for their opinions on the order.
In the end, I used the slow to fast and back to slow bell shape idea to create an order. I eliminated two pieces that didn’t quite fit with the flow and/or nature of the others and ended with “The Boat Song”, my husband’s suggestion. As he put it, “This song sends you forth on your way.”
This process of finding “just the right order” took weeks to accomplish.

Step 4 – Creating the information for the inside cover: I simply took SOHP’s mission and background info from SOHP’s website and previous CD inside covers. Mark and Megan provided their bios as soon as I asked for them, and my bio was on file. Part III was done!

The Making of SOHP’s newest CD, “Rays of Hope “- Part II – The actual recording session

Part II – Both Mark and I have selected our pieces for the CD. The recording date has been agreed upon, May 30th, & Megan is onboard with doing the recording. Mark and I are practicing daily to secure both the musical and technical elements of each piece.
Since I have neither performed at Kulas Concert Hall nor played on the grand piano on stage, I have requested a time the week before the scheduled recording to get use to the touch or action of the piano keys and the sound in the auditorium.
I am very pleased with the clarity of both the piano and the auditorium. But, of course, Mark is the piano technician at BW, and this is a Music Conservatory, so I shouldn’t be surprised at all that they both top notch. I play through my pieces and am relieved that the action is “just right” – not too hard and not too easy. The reverb in the auditorium is suburb.
The recording session day has arrived. Megan has set up about 4 rows back, front of and center of the piano. We have decided that Mark would go first. He is a “one take” wonder and Megan does not have to re-record very much.
However, outside of the building, heavy construction has begun for the day. Inside of the auditorium, a couple of songbirds have decided to nest. These two sources of noise do contribute to some retakes and Megan will also work her magic and somehow eliminate both the songbirds and the construction vehicles’ bangs and booms.
It is my turn to perform and I am enjoying this opportunity to play on this great piano and in this acoustic wonder of an auditorium.
We have finished in less than 3 hours, and Megan has recorded 17 pieces. All and all, it was a very successful recording session.

The Making of SOHP’s newest CD, “Rays of Hope” – Part 1 – The idea, style & performers

Mark Graham was tuning my Steinway Grand at my house in the fall of 2017. When he was finished tuning, he started playing an awesome fun piece that I had never heard. I asked him what he was playing. He told me that he enjoyed playing popular music of “yesteryear.” Hmm… and a germ of an idea starting growing for a new CD.

I had been working on some romantic and impressionistic piano pieces to possibly put together for a second piano CD for SOHP. The piece that I heard Mark play was a different genre but I felt that the two ‘worlds’ of piano literature might just work well together. ” Variety is the spice of life,” right?

So, I called Mark and presented my idea of “classical” meets “turn of the century popular program” music. I told him about SOHP’s mission of providing calming and/or uplifting music to those in need and he said, “Count me in!”

Mark is the current piano technician at BW (he is retiring at the end of thie 2019 school year.) He said that he could arrange to have us record this CD at Kulas Hall at the end of May, 2018.

We both knew Megan Poletti Kuhar who teaches Music Technology at BW and is the founder of Hey!Poletti Recordings LLC. Megan has recorded and mastered many of SOHP’s recordings in the past. Megan was on board for both the project and with recording Mark and I at Kulas.


Strings of Hope met with positive reactions

Sounds of Hope Project is very proud of the latest CD, “Strings of Hope.”  The music has been described as a “massage for the ears” and “like going to the spa.”                                 The album contains music featuring harp, violin guitar and an Irish fiddles group.

Musicians are:                                                                                                                                  Harpists – Sarah Schwartz & Melanie Brown                                                                                      Violinists – Chin Kim & St. Gerda Moehler                                                                                          Guitarist – Robert Gruca                                                                                                                          Irish “Clash of the Titans” group – Alyssa Schreiber, violin;  Erica Tompkins,  violin/bochran;  Elizabeth Crowe, cello/banjo;  Georgeann Trpiano, guitar

Strings of Hope has been distributed to many area nursing homes and hospices.  If you know of a facility or person  that you think would benefit from having this CD, please contact:  or call Mary Lou at 440 582 4350.

SOHP is hoping to produce a gospel CD next.


I think we have made great strides – producing 3 new CDs, having a newspaper article on SOHP, distributing 50+ CDs in the last month, completing a business plan for the next couple of years, creating a website that looks professional and yet is user friendly, adding 3 new, enthusiastic board members, finding money from Key Bank through Damien, having a successful donation sale at St. Albert the Great craft show, finding a Red Hat group to take us under their wings for the holidays, – to name a few. I’m anxiously looking ahead and hoping that we can both provide CD players and sets of our CDs for area hospices and nursing homes and give a workshop or two through the libraries as well.


I recently came upon a couple of quotes that I think fit SOHP’s mission:

  • “From what we get, we can make a living. What we give, however, makes a life.”  Arthur Ashe
  • “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Our greatest hope, to be loved, is ours when we’ve made that hope a reality for someone else.”  K. Casey

Oberlin Project THANK YOU

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped to make this project a reality:

  • My classmates, Greer Ellison and Betty Hunter Shultz, who showed their support from the start.
  • Oberlin Conservatory’s Dean David Stull who encouraged me immediately to pursue this venture and who gave this quote: “I am very pleased to participate in such a thoughtful and important project. The work of these great alumni is emblematic of the great spirit of the Oberlin Conservatory.”
  • SOHP’s lawyer, Christina Moser of Baker & Hostetler LLP, Cleveland, Ohio for providing countless hours of legal advice and the contracts for all involved.
  • Oberlin’s Alumni Office for helping with contact information, and with providing help with the trombone reunion choir concert program and attendee information.
  • Bill Hartzell, Hartzell Media Group, and Paul Eachus, Oberlin Media Specialist, for the transfer of reels to CDs.
  • Many Oberlin classmates/alum who were willing to provide reels or tapes or information readily, even if their own reels were not available for this project.
  • Marty Lydecker, Kathy and John Musat, Al Menfi, and Mr. Bosoti, Elizabeth Lydecker, Rita Dura, Katy Spinner, Laura Nary, Susan Grimm, and Matt Ginter for critiquing the pieces and giving their musical opinions for this project.
  • Megan Poletti, who has been a HUGE help with the final and most important stages of the production of these CDs – the mastering and the uploading of all information unto our production site.
  • The Sounds of Hope Project Board, especially Laura Nary and Susan Grimm. Laura helped me with the project outline and presentation to Dean Stull, and accompanied me to Oberlin on several occasions. Susan, our writing specialist and website blogger, has edited all blogs, letters, correspondence, and been extremely supportive throughout this project.
  • My husband, Marty, for standing by me, listening to my frustrations, whining, and anxieties and always supporting me with a smile and patient encouragement.
  • And to all the performers involved. Please see bio and listings that will soon be added to our website.


Twenty-seven months have gone by since the inception of the Oberlin College Alumni CD project! The idea came in 2009, and I started actually working on this project 17 months ago. I must admit that I was quite naive when I began. I actually thought that pulling pieces from Oberlin classmates’ prerecorded student and senior recitals and putting together a CD would take a couple of months – WRONG!!

Here are the steps I went through:

May 2009 – I attended an Oberlin 1973-1976 cluster alumni reunion at Oberlin College. The idea to use pieces from Oberlin performances in exchange for the transfer of classmates’ reel-to-reel tapes to CDs was born from discussions with classmates, Greer Ellison and Betty Hunter Shultz. I mulled over the idea and possible project for a year.

June 2010 — The Sounds of Hope Project Board approved pursuing the idea of making a CD from pieces “donated” to us from my Oberlin cluster alumni group, 1973-1976. I e-mailed Greer Ellison and Betty Hunter Shultz to see if they were still interested and presented the CD and “Musicians Who Care” idea to Dean David Stull at Oberlin. SOHP wanted to make sure we had permission to use performances recorded at Oberlin.

July 2010 — Dean Stull gave his support and blessing for SOHP to go ahead with SOHP’s Musicians Who Care project. He instructed us about what SOHP could and could not use. Oberlin’s alumni association provided addresses and communication information.

August 2010 – I contacted more classmates about the project and asked for their reel-to-reel tapes. Many no longer had these reels or felt there were no pieces that were appropriate.

September 2010 — Our pro bono lawyer drew up performer and “author” contracts. Greer Ellison, ’74, and Betty Hunter Shultz, ’74, sent their tapes to SOHP. Betty Hunter Shultz and Paul S. Reed, ’74, had performed a joint recital and he also agreed to be part of this project.

October, November 2010 – After contacting more classmates to request their recorded recitals in exchange for SOHP transferring their recitals tapes for reels to CDs, SOHP received senior recital reels from Deborah DeWolf Emery, ’74, and a trombone reunion choir concert cassette recorded in May 1991. I added my senior recital reels, ’74, and a found a beautiful performance by Andrew Trechak’s on one of my student recital reels and added these to the group.

December 2010 – When I asked about searching for more reel-to-reels, Paul Eachus, Oberlin Media Specialist, told me that Oberlin no longer held anything older than 1986. But I determined that enough music could still be gathered from what I had already acquired to produce a CD and gave Paul Eachus the recital reels and trombone cassette to be transferred to CDs.

April 2011 — I picked up CDs from Paul Eachus.

May, 2011 — I listened to the CDs and held a “listening” party with friends to help choose programs. We found enough for 3 different CDs and genres.

June 2011 — As listening, revising, typing sample programs continued, I started receiving signed contracts. I asked for bios from all performers. I took a sample CD, Sounds of Solace, to a funeral home for an opinion. The owner liked the CD.

July, 2011 — All contracts, bios, programs, etc. were ready to be mastered, typed up and sent to Kunaki to produce.

August 2011 — Peggy Crousman gave SOHP permission to use her photography for the CD covers. Megan Poletti, our media specialist, produced the first set of mastered CDs by end of the month.

September 2011 — Megan volunteered to help with the uploading to Kunaki of the cover, inside cover and back cover, and music. Dean Stull provided a quote for the inside cover of the CDs. I sent an email to the Oberlin Alumni Magazine with information for a possible article about the CDs.

Megan gave me the 2nd set of mastered CDs to edit.  I listened, listened, listened to CDs, made lots of notes, and listened again before sending Megan a final edit list. All the performances were recorded before different live audiences. The performances were recorded on different days, by different technicians, and on different instruments which made it difficult for me when listening and editing.

October, 2011 – As of October 6, 2011 all three CDs have gone to final production at  Megan delivered the final mastered CDs. She and I uploaded all the information for the CDs to the Kunaki site. A sample copy of each CD will arrive for my final “ok” before final production begins.

I am now both anxious and excited about the 3 CDs. I think I have “dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s.”