The concept of ChoirKids came from the desire to provide kids the opportunity to sing in a non-auditioned choir, in communities that might not currently offer it, simply for fun and for free. Spearheaded by Jack Boomer and Jane Cowell, five members of the Arbutus Singers came together to form the Arbutus Singers Music Education Society in 2006. The goal, through a non-profit organization, was to establish children and youth choirs in the Greater Victoria area. The Society received charitable status in 2008.
ChoirKids now part of the Victoria Conservatory of Music
ChoirKids is a non-auditioned choir program for school-age kids that focuses on singing for fun to foster a love and appreciation for music. All music is learnt by ear, and may include at times light choreography. Weekly one-hour rehearsals provide a range of “warm-up” games, and repertoire is drawn from popular folk tunes, and contemporary music, sung either in unison, or in two parts. Piano, guitar, and/or ukulele accompaniment is provided where appropriate, and end of term performance opportunities are arranged in coordination with all ChoirKids groups and the Arbutus Singers.
Since 2008, the ChoirKids program has been provided in selected local public schools serving marginalized communities. Started by the Arbutus Singers, and supported through the Arbutus Singers Music Education Society, the program has continued each year in this outreach capacity, until 2015, when the VCM was asked and agreed to “adopt” this wonderful program under its umbrella of programming for children. With ChoirKids now part of the VCM, we are pleased to also offer the program at both VCM locations, as one of our regularly scheduled programs for children.
The first children’s choir was formed in September of 2008 at the James Bay Community School. In 2009, two additional choirs were established through the Burnside-Gorge Community Centre: one at the centre itself and another at Quadra Elementary School. In 2011, we developed a specific program for students in grades 1 and 2 at Tillicum Elementary, and Craigflower Elementary joined the ChoirKids family. That same year we started a program at Victoria West Elementary and a another choir began in collaboration with Big Brothers – Big Sisters, the Boys and Girls Club and the Intercultural Association. A partnership with Victor-Brodeur School in the spring of 2013 saw our first French singing ChoirKids choir.
Certain programs were not sustainable and have since been disbanded. For the 2014/2015 school year, we are operating in James Bay Community School and at Craigflower, Tillicum and Victoria West Elementary Schools. In addition to performing at their own schools, local seniors’ homes and other community events, the ChoirKids choirs present a massed concert each spring and participate in the Arbutus Singers‘ year end concert every June.
We provide opportunities for young students to develop skills that will help them at school and beyond, with quite an emphasis on fun and music appreciation. We would love your help to continue doing so.
If you are willing to make a donation, please click on the DONATE button, which will take you to CanadaHelps.org where our online donations are facilitated. If you are willing to volunteer with ChoirKids, please use the Contact Us section to provide us with your contact information.
The Arbutus Singers Music Education Society wishes to thank the Victoria Foundation for the many grants we have received since our inception, as well as extend appreciation to many other groups in our community for their support; especially the Telus Community Fund, Thrifty Foods Smile Card Program, Country Grocer, CFAX Santas Anonymous, Safeway, Orbus Communities, the Provincial Services Community Employment Fund, 98.5 the Ocean and KISS 103.1 FM, Saanich Rotary, Fairway Market, Fabricland, the Rod Mahrt Investment Group at CIBC Wood Gundy and, of course, the Arbutus Singers Choir
There are exciting things happening at Craigflower Elementary, in their third year of our program. Under the stellar tag-team direction of Matthew and Avery, this choir is made up of students from grade one to five. Gathering each week in the library, they are natural entertainers. New and returning singers alike are not afraid to dive right into the music – especially if a song involves awesome dance moves. Many thanks to the school administration and our lovely volunteer Chery for their support.
JAMES BAY COMMUNITY SCHOOL
James Bay Community School was our inaugural choir, back in 2008. We are pleased to welcome back that first director, Janice Matthews, along with accompanist Matthew for our 2014-2015 season.
We gather in the library, with children from grades 1 to 5 attending weekly practices. The success of our James Bay program lies in the support of parents, teachers, and community volunteers – including Susan and Marlene from the Arbutus Singers.
In their fifth year of the ChoirKids program, 40 singers from Tillicum’s Grade 1 & 2 classes get together at lunchtime to belt out fun tunes with their director Steph and accompanist Avery. Many have “graduated” to sing with Tillicum’s senior choir, and we are seeing younger siblings (even more boys!) joining in the fun as the years have progressed. They love to spit out their words, clap out exciting rhythms, put song actions together, and are natural performers.
Many thanks to the school administration, parents, teachers and our lovely volunteers, Dianne and Sheila, for their support.
VICTORIA WEST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
In their fourth year of the ChoirKids program, VicWest is filled with some of the most enthusiastic and motivated singers this side of the keyboard. Usually beginning rehearsals with the most rousing rendition of “My Bonnie” that you’ve ever seen, director Stephanie Sartore and accompanist Jeff Poynter certainly have their hands full with these whiz kids. They absolutely tear through music and aren’t happy ’til a piece is complete. Their favourite repertoire usually involves fabulous theatricality and fun actions – they also have a soft spot for songs aimed at making the parents cry.
Many thanks to the school administration, parents, teachers and our lovely volunteers, Jane and Joan, for their support.
It’s REALLY EASY to DONATE to ChoirKids!
On each page of this website is a button that says Donate Now through CanadaHelps.org. When you click on the button you are taken to a secure page where you can make a donation. Over 7000 charities in Canada use this non-profit society to connect them with donors.
There are many ways to make a donation.
You can give a one-time gift or you can set up a monthly program to support the ChoirKids over a whole year. You could make a donation on behalf of someone or give a gift in memoriam.
The process is simple and very secure.
You will receive your tax receipt from CanadaHelps.org.
Your donation will ensure that ChoirKids will continue to grow, ensuring opportunities for Kids to enjoy the wonder of singing.
A parent commented that her daughter “has developed great confidence in her singing ability and it has changed her whole presence.”
Another commented that because of her experience with the choir, her daughter had developed the confidence to become a leader in the school.
SENIOR CHOIR DIRECTOR – MANAGER
DANIEL BRANDES is a composer, pianist, educator, and church musician who lives in Esquimalt with his wife, son, and cat. Daniel holds a M.Mus in Composition (2010) from the University of Victoria where he studied composition with Christopher Butterfield, and a B.Mus (2007) from the University of Windsor where he studied piano with Philip Adamson and composition with Brent Lee.
Daniel’s compositions have been performed across Canada as well as in the USA, France, Germany, the UK, and Russia by numerous soloists and ensembles such as the Quatuor Bozzini, The BC Girls Choir, MyVoice Choir, Ethos Collective, Redshift New Music Society, Bespoken Ensemble, the Wandelweiser Composers Ensemble, Colin Tilney, Andrea Young, and Odeya Nini. Upcoming projects include participating in the 2016 Nu:Nord Symposium in Huddersfield, England—a bi-annual gathering of leading young composers and performers from Canada, the UK, and Norway. His scores are published by Edition Wandelweiser (Haan Germany).
In 2012 Daniel and his wife Laura founded A Place to Listen, a monthly concert series held at James Bay United Church, where Daniel is the Director of Music. To date, A Place to Listen has presented over 25 concerts, and has established itself as a central hub of Victoria’s thriving new and experimental music community.
Since 2011, Daniel has been working as an outreach educator with the Victoria Conservatory of Music and the Canadian Music Centre. With support from with these two organizations, Daniel has lead Composer in the Classroom residencies at numerous schools through the CRD. This amazing program has allowed Daniel to work with elementary, middle, and high school students, guiding them through the process of discovering their own creative voice through writing original compositions.
Daniel loves singing, teaching, and kids, and is very much looking forward to the 2015-2016 Choir Kids Year. He is very honoured to be part of this wonderful program.
JEFF POYNTER is a multi-instrumentalist, educator, and artist manager based in Victoria, BC, Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Victoria, with a major in Saxophone Performance. He is also the on the board of Music For Youth Works Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing music lessons to children who could not otherwise afford them. Jeff performs regularly with the popular indie-folk group West My Friend as well as with burlesque performer Rosie Bitts.
As an experienced pianist, accordionist, and guitarist, Jeff was the music director at Pilgrim United Church in Colwood BC for five years, was the Assistant Music Minister at Oak Bay United Church in Victoria, and now leads music at Cadboro Bay United Church with Louise Rose. He regularly tours Canada and the US, and plays many styles of music, from classical to funk, latin to celtic, and jazz to folk.
In addition, Jeff has taught private lessons on saxophone and guitar for more than eight years, starting out at the Stewart Music Studio in Langley, BC. He is now the woodwind and piano instructor at Larsen Music in Victoria, BC, and runs his own music studio where he gives lessons, provides space for other teachers and students, and hosts rehearsals.
CHRISTOPHER REICHE M.Mus, B.Mus, is a performer, composer and instructor. Originally from Ontario, he moved to Victoria British Columbia to pursue a Masters of Music at the University of Victoria.
As a composer, his works have been performed by The Vancouver Miniaturist Ensemble, Mark McGregor and Brian Nesselroads, and locally by the Aventa Ensemble. His work The length of this piece is not arbitary – Painting a Portrait of Glass has been recorded by Quatuor Bozzini and released on their CD À chacun sa miniature.
As a performer, he specializes in contemporary music and free improvisation. In Victoria he has performed with the Victoria Composers Collective, the Victoria Phonographer’s Union and recorded with the Toronto based Glass Tables. In 2015 he joined the Victoria Composers Collective on their Composers Wanted Tour playing 9 concerts in 8 different cities in the interior of British Columbia.
As a teacher, Christopher has been teaching at individual students at Minstrels Conservatory in Cobble Hill and Brentwood College since 2008 and was a Sessional Lecturer at the University of Victoria from 2009 to 2012. In his teaching he tries to encourage a love and curiosity of music while providing students with the musical foundation and technique they require to reach their goals.
When not teaching, composing or performing, Christopher is the New Music Coordinator at Open Space Arts Society.
Rewarding, Fulfilling, Magical… what it feels like to volunteer with ChoirKids
If you are interested in volunteering with ChoirKids please connect with VCM staff member Melody Benbow:
Registration will be available soon…