Sunday, May 18, 2003

Children should get head start in choirs

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Children can start singing in specialized choirs when they are learning to read, directors say.

Cincinnati Boychoir director Randall Wolfe believes the ideal time for children to start is when they are entering third grade, at about 8 years old.

"We don't go by age, but by grade in school," Dr. Wolfe says. "They have just come along far enough in reading abilities to be able to read the words."

Being able to read the text is a first boost when a child is also getting training in pitch, rhythm, proper breathing and reading notes.

The Cincinnati Children's Choir, at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, will audition children as soon as they are able to read. Generally that means second grade, says director Robyn Lana, but kids who are reading earlier may audition.

"That doesn't mean that kids with reading or visual impairments shouldn't audition," Lana says. "We fit them into the program, but the conductors work with them and their parents on an individualized basis."

But both directors agree that the earlier kids start singing in an organized setting, the better. Lana suggests that younger kids, from about age 5, begin singing in settings such as Sunday school choirs.

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