School is back in session, which means the beginning of loads of programs, both new and old, throughout Brandon School Division that serve to keep kids engaged and give them skills for life.
The performing and visual arts department at École Secondaire Neelin High School is set to launch the 2012-13 edition of the Brandon School Division junior high choir next week.
This program is open to all Grade 7 and 8 students in Brandon School Division and Christian Heritage School. It is completely free-of-charge to the singers, requiring no audition or previous experience.
This is the fourth year for the choir, which is run as an outreach program by Neelin, with divisional support, in a continued effort to bridge the long-standing gap between elementary and high school choirs and promote singing as a healthy and enjoyable lifelong activity.
While band has been offered to all students in the division at the junior high level for many years, most students who wish to sing have no opportunity through the schools, with the exception of the BSD junior high choir.
“The program meets the needs of young singers in our city with a fun, quality and educated approach, while keeping it accessible to all, both financially and in terms of skill and experience,” said director Carolyn Gwyer, who has led the renowned Neelin choirs for the past 18 years.
“All of Brandon’s secondary choral music programs are thriving and growing, but we miss so many kids — especially boys, but lots of girls too — because they get away from singing during those formative junior high years. We simply have to keep them singing.
“The instrument is free and built-in, and it’s a super fun and rewarding activity that they can do for life.”
Gwyer said this choir is about building kids’ confidence, giving them skills, and forging friendships across the division between those who love to sing.
“No matter how good they are, there is safety in numbers by singing in a group like this, and there are, frequently, opportunities for soloing too, for those who want to do it,” she said.
“With iPods and the success of shows like ‘Glee,’ singing has never been more popular and there has never been a greater opportunity than now to do more to keep kids singing.”
In addition to weekly rehearsals every Thursday after school in the Neelin Theatre, the choir will perform several times throughout the winter and spring, joining forces with the division’s junior high band and high school music programs.
For girls, rehearsals will be held 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. and for boys it is 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., which has the groups working both separately and together.
The choir will be kicking off with a come-and-go registration night on Thursday from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. in the Neelin Theatre (enter via 10th Street doors).
Rehearsals will begin Sept. 20 and run until June 6. Singers can join at any time throughout the year.
The BSD junior high choir will perform in at least two concerts over their season, sharing with other musical groups in the community.
Last year’s choir included 40 singers from 14 schools and leaders are hopeful that the 2012 choir will see at least that many singers come out again, if not many more.
Registration information was distributed to all music teachers in junior high schools last week but can also be accessed online by visiting the Neelin website at www.brandonsd.mb.ca/neelin and clicking on either departments, performing and visual arts department, choir, and BSD junior high choir.
Those interested can also contact Carolyn Gwyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 204-729-3189.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 11, 2012