P9andemics are no fun for choirs – especially when, like COVID-19, a virus is easily spread by airborne droplets from people too close to each other and masks aren’t the best thing to be wearing if you’re singing.
But Chandler Children’s Choir Founder-Director Aimee Steward has found some effective workarounds to get her kids stretching their vocal chords again.
Driven by her knowledge of the benefits a choir can provide for youth and her passion to hear young people singing, Steward perfected a way to start the community choir’s 13th season last fall.
Singers ages 6-18 participate in weekly rehearsals outside, wearing masks and maintaining social distance.
Singers have the option to rehearse in person or online. The repertoire features a wide variety of genres and often includes pieces sung in another language.
“Singing and music help us process the world around us, help us express what we’re feeling, help us understand new ideas, histories and perspectives,” said Stewart.
“Now more than ever, we must continue to give our youth the opportunity to sing in a community choir and experience the role music can play in their lives.”
The second semester of Season 13 is well underway with concerts planned for February and May.
The choir is also partnering with the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center through the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council to provide inclusive learning opportunities for children.
In the effort to introduce more children to music without a big commitment, the Prelude Choir was formed for singers as young as 6-years-old with little or no musical training. That group gives them a chance to experience singing in a choir.
Singers in the 6-week program meet weekly, learn a few pieces of music and perform them at the end. No audition is required. The program will begin Feb. 11.
“We are working hard on expanding ways to reach more young people in less traditional ways to give them a chance to express themselves musically, regardless of socio-economic background, developmental limitations or racial background,” Steward said.
Auditions to join the choir are taking place next month. Details about auditions or to join the Prelude Choir are at chandlerchildrenschoir.org.
Steward said that at a time when choirs around the world are experiencing unprecedented challenges, she’s glad the Chandler Children’s Choir has found a way to keep young people singing, citing the lyrics from that hymn – “Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing. It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?”