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 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 concept of ChoirKids came from the desire to provide kids the Choir Kids Victoriaopportunity 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.

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 tab (left), which provides a link to where our online donations are facilitated. If you are willing to volunteer with ChoirKids, please click on the VOLUNTEER tab (left) for more 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


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With almost 60 students participating this year, it’s the most we’ve ever had in the ChoirKids program at this school!  Our amazing choir director Daniel Brandes, is assisted this year by the very talented and multi-instrumental singer-songwriter Emily Green, and we’re very grateful for the wonderful support of vice-principal Jana Dick, who is herself a music teacher and loves working with choirs!  This year, our choir is made up of students from grade two 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!



George Jay Elementary

We are very pleased to welcome the students of George Jay Elementary into the ChoirKids program for the first time this year!  36 students from grades 1 and 2 are participating, led by the very talented choir director Daniel Brandes, accompanied by our multi-instrumental singer-songwriter Emily Green.

Acting Principal Terri Smith is a great support in getting the ChoirKids program up and running, and the VCM is thrilled to be continuing to help enhance the music program at George Jay, after having provided their music-technology music program “Children’s Music Journey” to the students at this school since 2013.







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In their sixth 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 Daniel Brandes and accompanist Jeff Poynter. Many students have continued on to sing with Tillicum’s senior choir, and as such we see lots of younger brothers and sisters now in ChoirKids. They love to spit out their words, clap out exciting rhythms, put song actions together, and are natural performers.

Our sincere thanks to principal Lori Burley, who has been a great help and is a firm believer in the power of singing!




In their fifth year now of the ChoirKids program, VicWest is filled with some of the most enthusiastic and motivated singers this side of the keyboard. Choir director Daniel Brandes brings a lot of excitement each week, along with his accompanist Jeff Poynter, who takes the art of choir accompaniment to a whole different level.

Many thanks to the school’s new principal Ms. Marla Margetts, who is a great support in helping the ChoirKids program continue to flourish at Vic West!


It’s REALLY EASY to DONATE to ChoirKids!

Please follow the link below that connects directly to the VCM’s account.  You are taken to a secure page where you can make a tax receipted 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 memorial.

The process is simple and very secure, and you will receive your tax receipt from

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.


DANIEL BRANDES is a composer, pianist, educator, and church musiciandaniel 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. Jeff performs regularly with the popular indie-folk group West My Friend as well as with burlesque performer Rosie Bitts and the gypsy-jazz quartet Hot Club of Canada.

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, piano, clarinet, accordion, and guitar for more than a decade, starting out at the Stewart Music Studio in Langley, BC before teaching at Larsen Music in Victoria, BC for four years. He now runs Pine & Anchor Studio where he gives lessons, provides space for other teachers and students, and hosts rehearsals.


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EMILY GREEN grew up in Oakville, Ontario in a musical family, the daughter of a rock guitarist. She received her Bachelor of Music degree with Honours from the University of Toronto, where she majored in Music Education, with a Minor in German, and studied classical piano with Mr. John Kruspe. Emily began teaching group piano classes while still a student and over the past five years has taught at various music schools in the Toronto area, including the notable Merriam School of Music. Emily is also a church pianist and has acted as Music Director at two Anglican churches in her hometown.

Outside of piano, Emily’s other musical passion lies in her experience as a pop/rock singer, songwriter, acoustic guitarist and ukulele player. At the age of nineteen, she independently released an album of original songs, titled Party in the Fortress! (the name of her pop duo with her sister). Since she was seventeen she has performed regularly in pop/rock bands with her sister, a drummer, and more recently with her new husband, a guitarist, and with her band, continues performing to this day in public venues and night clubs in an around downtown Toronto. Outside of music, Emily is a passionate environmentalist who enjoys cycling, and reduce-reuse-recycling!


Rewarding, Fulfilling, Magical… what it feels like to volunteer with ChoirKids

If you are interested in volunteering with ChoirKids please click on the follow link to our online application form:  CHOIRKIDS VOLUNTEER APPLICATION

The Victoria Conservatory of offers a number of volunteer opportunities, including ushering in the Alix Goolden Performance Hall.  Please connect with VCM staff member Melody Benbow for more information:  250.419.4317  |

Registration forms are provided through each participating school’s main office, and are distributed to all families with children attending these schools.  Parents and students are encouraged to take advantage of this wonderful program, to complete the registration and media-release forms, and return them to their school office.