Something more tangible than words
Something more tangible than words

Something more tangible than words

a My Dunrovin Story by Clare Howard

In 2011, the winter of 5th grade, I began coming on Getaway Youth Retreats. I had been waiting to go since I could remember, and I was jealous of my older sister Anna for getting to go before me. Really, I had been coming to join my mom as she worked the retreats since I was a baby. When my dad would bring us as kids to surprise my mother, I remember thinking those big kids seemed so cool. I could not wait to be them some day.

As I grew through the Getaway program, from Junior High to Senior High and then as a peer helper, I learned a lot through seeing the different sides of the retreats. I watched the older students and eventually I helped behind the scenes. The next step for me in my Dunrovin journey is becoming a staff member. I’ll lead small groups and eventually give talks.

Dunrovin gives me the opportunity to lead others. It took awhile, but through this I’ve gained confidence in spades.

My mom used to lead music at the retreats. The way she would get up there and become what she was singing was beyond magical to me. She held this confidence that seemed out of grasp for me. A few retreats in I began playing clarinet with the musicians. Through this I’ve learned how to play without sheet music, and now improvising on the clarinet is one of my favorite things to do. I also used to play ukulele or my little electric piano with the musicians, and now I play guitar. I used to be off to the side, playing and singing as quietly as I could, afraid of making mistakes. But now I don’t mind making mistakes, because leading music isn’t about me, and it’s certainly not about performing. It’s about giving kids the outlet of music to express their faith, because to me it feels more powerful, more tangible, than anything else.

In September (2019) I am starting a music education degree at the University of St. Thomas. My love of music was nurtured all those years coming on Getaway Retreats at Dunrovin. I enjoy leading praise for Mass and our singing sessions. One of my favorite parts of Dunrovin is just sitting at the piano downstairs, playing and singing fun songs with my friends. Different people have come and gone, but you can always find me at that piano whenever we have free time.

I began my ‘music career’ playing the clarinet in 4th grade, but I always wanted to take piano lessons. So I taught myself to play the piano and compose music (I eventually attended piano lessons through PSEO during high school). I find it difficult to quiet my bouncing thoughts during Quiet Time on retreats, so instead of the traditional quiet time with my Bible, I will sing and play the piano or my guitar. I find music is another way to be with God and to be with others. It’s just another level of expression for me.

I wish to offer others the opportunity for music and give them the ability to express themselves through something more tangible than just words. That longing took root here at Dunrovin, around a piano, with young people harmonizing together. There is nothing more powerful than praise.

Clare Howard enjoys playing the six pianos Dunrovin owns. She says that each one is unique and offers its own musical experience. Thank you, Clare, for all your service and for your gift of music on Getaway over the years!