This fall, the Choir School for children at St. John’s Church in Ross begins its fourth season. Run by music director Dr. Lenore Alford and vocal coach Emily Bender, the Choir School helps children become literate, knowledgable musicians and great singers. For the last three years, the school's combined choirs have sung the national anthem at AT&T Park for the San Francisco Giants—a great way to end the season in June!
Choir School is open to all children who children who want to sing. Tuition is $320 for St. John's parishioners and $420 for non-parishioners. Scholarships are available and no child will be turned away for lack of funds.
The Choir School is divided into choirs by age:
The youngest choristers (grades K–1) sing in the St. Cecilia Choir, where they learn musicianship skills through folk songs and games following the Kodaly method of instruction. They also perform once a month each second Sunday.
The St. Hildegard Choir is for grades 2–5. Choristers in this choir learn to read music, fundamentals of music theory, and musicianship skills along with the joy of singing beautiful music. They receive individual voice lessons with vocal coach Emily Bender. Rehearsals take place Wednesdays from 4 to 5:15 pm.
The Marin Music Chest has launched its annual scholarship audition program in its ongoing effort to provide financial support to Marin County students studying classical music. Students studying wind and string instruments, piano, and voice are encouraged to apply, and all scholarship applicants must be residents of Marin County for a minimum of two years and have at least two years of music study prior to the audition.
Junior Division instrumentalists must be between 10 and 13 years old and vocalists between 14 and 16. The Junior Division application deadline is February 10, 2012, and auditions will be held March 10, 2012. Senior Division instrumentalists must be between 14 and 19 years of age and vocalists between 17 and 24. The Senior Division application deadline is February 24, 2012 and auditions will be held on March 24, 2012.
What is the ideal age for a child to start learning an instrument? The answer is: it depends.
No matter what the instrument your child needs to be mature enough to be able to focus on formal learning—the age of reason, so to speak—even if it’s just for a relatively short period of time. For piano and string instruments, the general consensus seems to be that you can start formal lessons around age five, or even earlier, in a Suzuki program, although some teachers would still wait until age eight or the third grade. For other instruments, waiting a bit longer will actually give your child a better chance of success. The A music school, for example, doesn’t start students on guitar, bass guitar, or drums until they’re age eight, and many teachers recommend waiting until ages nine, ten, or eleven to start lessons on other instruments. According to Dianna Gomez, who is band director at Presidio Middle School and has taught at lower levels, fourth graders have an eighty percent chance of failure. She finds that fifth graders, on the other hand, have about an eighty percent chance of success.