Since Voices of Birralee began, it has pursued the goal of providing children and young adults with rewarding singing experiences both onstage and beyond the concert hall.
Over the years, more than 2,000 people have benefited from the joy of singing with Birralee, and this includes the huge number of young children who have found their voices in our younger choirs, the Birralee Piccolos and Kids!
In this month’s blog, we celebrate the growth of our children’s choirs, and the opportunities provided to our young people!
For Claire Preston, our Birralee Kids conductor, she constantly sees the benefits that singing in a choir offers to children.
“Singing in a choir further develops children’s self-confidence, they make new friends, they learn how to be part of a team, they learn how to listen and they have the opportunity to perform in the safety of a group,” she said.
Anyone who has worked with children will know the challenges that come with keeping kids alert throughout an afternoon rehearsal. Ms Preston says it’s all about choosing appropriate songs and ensuring the rehearsal is fast paced.
“It’s important to choose songs that the children enjoy learning and fun warm-up activities that help the group feel happy about coming to choir; including using movement and physical gestures in songs. I ensure rehearsals are kept at a fast pace to keep them on their toes and probably the most important tip is to talk as little as possible!”
Repertoire is chosen that is best suited for the Piccolos and Kids’ young voices.
“Unison songs at the beginning of the year are best for developing the young voice; working on creating a singing line, healthy vocal placement and even tone and flexibility across the vocal range,” Ms Preston said.
“Repertoire includes a good variety of slow and fast songs, rhythmical and legato, with age appropriate texts to enjoy the story telling of each song. Canons and partner songs are a great introduction to simple two-part repertoire.”
It certainly takes a great deal of energy to conduct a children’s choir, but Ms Preston loves it!
“I find it very rewarding teaching young children to develop artistry and to be expressive. I also love to empower children to read music. Once they realise they are actually reading the music it’s a magical moment! When they discover that they CAN do it, the confidence and independence it affords them is a real milestone,” she said.
“I have lots of parents tell me that Birralee is their child’s favourite time of the week and that their school grades have improved because of all they learn at choir!! What an endorsement!! Bring it on, I say!!”
The rehearsals during the year for our Birralee Kids and Piccolos provide valuable learning opportunities, while Voices of Birralee ensures the children also experience performances.
Earlier this year, the Birralee Kids and Piccolos performed in the Cupcake and Cushion Concert. Here’s a video about the joy the choristers experienced during this concert, and their adorable comments about what they get out of singing in a choir.
Coming up next for these youngsters is the Young Voices Festival on Sunday 28 August, which will involve a number of Brisbane’s school based choirs.
Voices of Birralee Artistic Director and Founder Julie Christiansen OAM said these concerts were further opportunities for growth.
“For most of the children these concerts will mark their first public performance opportunity and to do it with their choir friends, in a supportive environment is such a wonderful debut,” Ms Christiansen said.
“Performing with other choirs from across Brisbane is also a lovely way for young singers to observe what other choirs are doing and to be part of something collectively exciting with our massed choir finale.”
“It’s great for children to engage with songs written for children, with appropriate lyrics and tunes, as a good change from just singing along to radio or TV music – more appropriate to the adult voice.”
The Young Voices Festival will be held on Sunday 28 August from 3pm at Valmai Pidgeon PAC, Somerville House.
The concert will feature the Birralee Piccolos, Birralee Kids and guest choirs from Eagle Junction State School, Redeemer Lutheran College, The Gap State School, Clayfield College and St Laurence’s College.
Tickets are $10 for adults and concession, with school-aged children free. Bookings can be made here.
If your child is interested in singing with our Birralee Piccolos or Kids, we invite them to participate in a no-obligation trial lesson.
For more information contact 07 3367 1001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.birralee.org.