“If I cannot fly, let me sing.”
~ Stephen Sondheim
The gift of song is upon us with the Christmas season. There is nothing that gets you into the Christmas spirit more than hearing your favourite Christmas songs: Silver Bells, Silent Night, Deck the Halls, I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas and the list goes on and on. Music and singing are activities that encourage creativity and can serve as an outlet for various emotions and energy. If you are too shy to sing a solo, a choir just might be the perfect answer. This month, we interview Mrs. Deborah Nelson, founder and director of Cantate Youth Choirs, to learn more about their program and the gift of singing, how it can build a life long foundation, encourage our children to express themselves, and be a wonderful activity for kids of all ages.
KB: What is Cantate Youth Choirs (CYC)?
CYC: The Cantate Youth Choirs program is a community-based program for children and youth who love to sing a wide variety of music. There are two choirs in our program: The Senior Choir is for young people with unchanged voices from Grades 6-12 who love to sing exciting and challenging music working hard and reaping the rewards. The Apprentice Choir includes girls and boys grades 1-8 who love to sing in a fun and supportive atmosphere.
KB: How did CYC begin? Where did it start?
CYC: Cantate began in September 2008.
KB: What is the goal/mission of the Cantate Youth Choirs?
CYC: The goal of the Cantate Youth Choirs program is to provide a quality, fun, challenging musical experience for young people who love to sing.
KB:When does the choir season take place/run for the year? Do you take a break during the summer months?
CYC: Our program begins the Monday following Labour Day each year and finishes with our spring concert in early June. We do not have rehearsals during the summer. That is the time I spend searching for interesting and fun music for our upcoming season.
KB: What age group(s) is the choir for? How old do you have to b
CYC: Our The Apprentice Choir is for children in Grades 1-8 and the Senior Choir is for Grades 6-12.
KB: Do you have to be able to sing or be a good singer to participate?
CYC: The major requirement for participation in the Apprentice Choir is a love of singing and a willingness to commit to our weekly rehearsals and exciting performances. For the Senior Choir, the young people must be able to sing well in tune and be ready to sing harmony parts. Music reading ability is helpful but not essential.
KB: Do you have tryouts for the CYC?
CYC: I like to meet with each child at my home prior to them attending their first rehearsal. Placement in the choirs is dependent on their age, prior experience and musical ability. Once a chorister is placed in a choir, they are invited to the first rehearsal or two to see if they will enjoy it. The great majority of children choose to join and express their love for choir by coming back year after year. Some of the choristers have sung with me for twelve years straight.
KB: Is there a cost to join the CYC and how much is it?
CYC:The cost is $220.00/year (September - June) or for a student joining in January, it would be prorated ($132.00).
KB: How and where can you register your kids for the program?
CYC: Children generally register in September but we accept a few new choristers in both choirs in January also. We start brand new music than for a wonderful spring term. Parents interested in one of our choirs should contact the Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our website www.cantatechoir.ca.
KB: Is there practice and how often and when do you practice?
CYC: We have weekly rehearsals for each choir. The Seniors rehearse from 5-6:10 p.m. and the Apprentice from 6:15-7:00 every Monday. Once a semester the Senior Choir also meets for a choir blitz on a Saturday morning to "blitz" their parts AND enjoy some scrumptious cinnamon buns and have lots of fun.
KB: Where do you meet for practice?
CYC: We meet in the Luther College High School music room located at 1500 Royal Street.
KB: What benefits do kids have by participating with choir and singing?
CYC: There are many benefits to joining Cantate Youth Choirs. Fun and friendships being two of them. For many children, this gives them a venue for singing and experiencing friendships with others who love music. The Choir is also a wonderful addition to the music lessons that many students are already taking. Many studies now also show a strong correlation between the study of music and scholastic achievement.
KB: Where does the name Cantate Youth Choir come from?
CYC: The word "Cantate" means "sing" in Latin.
KB: Is there a particular style or genre of music that the choir sings?
CYC: Both choirs sing music of many different styles from classical to contemporary from both sacred and secular repertoire. Often we sing a classical piece, a folk song or two, a selection from Broadway or jazz, a song with choreography. We sing as wide a variety of quality music as each choir can handle. Lots of beautiful varied and interesting music.
KB: How can parents get involved with the choir if they want to help their kids or the program?
CYC: Parents are welcome to sing in on our rehearsals and so then have the opportunity to help the child with learning words etc. C.D.’s of the music are sent home each semester for the children to enjoy using between practices. Parents also are invited to help with sitting with the Apprentice Choir at performances and assisting with social events.
KB: My child is very nervous about performing in front of an audience, how do you know if singing in a choir is right for your child?
CYC: Choir can be a perfect fit for a child who finds it difficult to perform in front of an audience since they are not alone. Children can develop fine confidence and poise with practice.
KB: Can participating in a choir group help a child with confidence and overcoming shyness?
CYC: Since choir is such a wonderful group activity, shy children are glad not to be singled out but can develop poise and confidence in performing. I have often seen shy little singers become confident musicians with the positive encouragement they receive from participating in choir.
KB: Do you have concerts or performances during the choir season?
CYC: We have exciting performance opportunities each year. This year both choirs will participate in the Rotary Carol Festival (on T.V.) and in our annual Christmas and Spring Concerts. Both choirs also will have the opportunity to compete in the Regina Music Festival in April. At the Festival the choirs have often been the recipients of numerous awards and trophies. The Senior Choir has frequently been selected as the Saskatchewan representative to the Canadian National Music Festival. The Senior Choir is also very excited to be joining the Regina Philharmonic Chorus and Regina Symphony Players in "Mass of the Children" by John Rutter. The Seniors love their annual day trip to Moose Jaw for the Band and Choir Festival along with a visit to the spa and for treats at the fudge shop.
Everyone is invited to join the 80 members of the Cantate Senior and Apprentice Choirs and several musical guests for our annual Christmas concert entitled "Wintersong". The concert will be held on Friday, December 9, 2016, at 7:30 PM at the First Baptist Church, 2241 Victoria Avenue. Reception to follow and admission is free.
To learn more about the Cantate Youth Choirs or to register your child for the 2016/2017 year, visit their website at www.cantatechoir.ca.
CANTATE YOUTH CHOIRS
Email: deb3454 at hotmail dot com