Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation has been wanting a children's choir for a few years. I believe one of my predecessors, Sarah Dan Jones, started working with the children when she was music director. I don't recall if my immediate predecessor, Kathy Kelly George, led a children's choir or not. I do know that Kathy is excellent at working with children's choirs, and I had the privilege of observing one of her rehearsals a few months ago.
This is the first time Northwest UUC has had a children's choir for a long time. Today was their first rehearsal, and it was my first experience leading a children's choir. I had a blast! I expected maybe five children to show up this first time, so I was pleasantly surprised when we had about a dozen. After a quick warm-up, I taught them two easy songs. For the most part, the kids stayed on pitch, and they picked up on the words fairly quickly. Aside from teaching the music, my main focus was in getting them to sing out. We could see the parking lot from the window. To help them project, I told them to pretend they were singing to someone outside.
Some of today's highlights:
- A few of the children were wearing their Halloween costumes, which reminded me that last year at this time, I was having the kids help me write a song. That was a striking coincidence.
- When I led them through a breathing exercise, one of the girls raised her hand and told me that her choir teacher does the same thing. I took this as a sign that I wasn't completely clueless.
- After the rehearsal, one little boy came up to me with the lead sheet I had handed out and asked if he could use it to make a paper airplane.
- At the beginning of the rehearsal, one boy told me that he didn't want to sing. I told him that this was fine, but if he wasn't going to sing, he needed to be quiet during rehearsal. He stayed way in the back, and soon I noticed that he was singing along with everyone else. At the end of the rehearsal, he declared that he would like to sing after all.
This was such a rewarding experience for me, and I hope that this will be a fun and rewarding experience for the children. I'm so very glad I started this. I'm looking forward to working with these kids and getting to know them, and I can't wait to showcase them in a music service. My favorite part of being a school band director was working with beginners. It appears that this love for teaching beginners extends to singers, too.