Make a Joyful Noise: Singing in a Community Children's Choir

by Patricia Guth
For many children throughout the world, one of the joys of childhood involves singing in a community children’s choir. Most children love to sing, including both boys and girls (boys don’t inherit the “singing is sissy” gene until about 7th grade!), and singing in an ensemble is a great way to enhance your child’s musical education.   
Why Choose a Chorus? 
Singing in a chorus is the best way for a younger child to learn how to sing properly. Children below the age of 13 are really too young for private voice lessons, but if you find the right kid’s with a well-trained director, your child will learn the important skills associated with healthy singing habits during choir rehearsals.  
Ensemble singing also teaches children the importance of working together with other kids to produce an optimal sound. Kids learn the importance of “blending” and why it’s not necessary to always be the “star”. They will, however, probably have opportunities for solos as well. Teamwork lessons learned at choir will carry over to other things your child does in life, including sports.
Most children who sing in choral ensembles will tell you that the camaraderie among members is fantastic. The chance to bond with other kids who possess similar interests is a terrific experience for musical kids and lifelong friendships will be formed.
For kids who don’t possess a lot of sports prowess, choir might be their chance to shine. While they may be belittled at school for their lack of athletic ability, choir will make them feel like a million bucks.
If you do a little research, you can probably find a children’s choir that does some traveling, perhaps embarking on an annual performance tour. A chance to sing in venues around the country (or even the world!) will provide your child with experiences they’ll never forget. Locally, singing in the choir is akin to providing community service, especially when the kids entertain at places such as nursing homes, retirement villages, or hospitals. The smiles on the faces of the audience provide lasting rewards. 
 
Choosing the Right Chorus 
There are a few things to remember when looking for a quality community children’s choir program. First of all, before making any commitment, sit in on a rehearsal and observe how the choir spends their rehearsal time. Are they just memorizing or does the director take time to really teach the kids to “sing”. Rehearsals should include warm-ups and perhaps some basic musical instruction at the start. The rest of the time should be spent on learning repertoire, with care taken to stress musicality, i.e. tempo, dynamics, diction, expression.            
Observe how the director interacts with the children. Some directors, regardless of how good their choirs sound, enjoy little interaction with the kids. As cliché as it may sound, look for a friendly, happy director who truly seems to love the children. Your child will have a better and more memorable experience. 
Again, look for a choir that performs at a variety of venues and sings a variety of repertoire. That will provide your child with a well-rounded choral experience.  
 
Cost 
Most community children’s choirs do charge tuition. It helps them pay for essentials such as printed music, , transportation to concerts, and even liability insurance. There’s likely to be a uniform charge as well but many groups offer “gently worn” uniforms at a reduced price. 
If cost is an issue, you’ll find that many choirs will try to accommodate your child anyway. You may want to offer your volunteer services in lieu of tuition. Perhaps you can handle concert publicity or head the fund-raising committee.  Few choirs will deny your child the opportunity to sing just because you can’t pay and some even offer scholarship programs.
 
Biography for Patricia Guth
Patricia Guth, a resident of the Philadelphia area, holds a degree in music education from Westminster Choir College, Princeton, NJ. For the past 25 years, Mrs. Guth has taught in both public and private elementary schools and has directed both community choirs and church choral and instrumental ensembles. She has been trained in a number of different musical methods, including Kindermusik and Kodaly.As artistic director of the Young Singers of Pennsylvania since 1998, Mrs. Guth has traveled extensively with this award-winning choir, performing in such venues as Walt Disney World, Quebec City’s Canada Day celebration, Boston’s Faneuil Hall, Central Park in New York City, and many other locations throughout the eastern U.S. and Canada.Mrs. Guth is also currently the Director of Music at the Ivyland (PA) Presbyterian Church, where she oversees a graded choir program.Patricia has been married for 25 years to Gary, also a music teacher, and has two children. Son Ryan is a music teacher and daughter Emily is a dancer.


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