Music is one of the greatest activities for young children
With so many benefits, it is exciting to see programs like Music Beat making music accessible to young children and allowing them to experience the joys of music in their early years!
The opportunity to meaningfully incorporate music into your life is invaluable, and this was my impetus to begin Voices of Birralee nearly 24 years ago – I witnessed the value my students were receiving from a choir I was conducting at The Gap State School, and I wanted to do more.
Now Voices of Birralee boasts six vibrant ensembles, and it is incredible to see the breadth of growth our choristers experience through their time with us – particularly in their formative years as part of our Birralee Piccolos and Kids ensembles.
From the beginning, we’ve always lived by the mantra that every child has a song in their heart and singing is as natural for a child to do as walking, dancing and talking. This is especially evident in our Birralee Piccolos, who are aged 5 – 7 (Prep to Year 1).
The Piccolos choir is taught in two ensembles, usually with a maximum of 20 Piccolos in each group. Rehearsals take place on either a Wednesday or Saturday each week.
Here are four ways that young children benefit from singing in a choir: socially, cognitively, musically and culturally.
Our Piccolos are aged from Prep to Year 1. Many have already begun their formal education and have more than likely begun making friends with fellow classmates. Singing in a choir nurtures this social development.
The Piccolos begin learning what it is like to work in a team and work together to achieve a common goal, such as performing at a concert.
They also get to interact with their conductor and accompanist, who are role models in creating a life in music.
From the very first rehearsal our Piccolos are learning, mostly by ‘play’. They learn musical patterns, exercise memorisation, practice motion and lyrics, which is all the while helping with their speaking and learning the pronunciation and meaning of words.
This is the obvious one! Our Piccolos begin to understand singing! They learn notes, simple dynamics and how they can blend with their fellow choristers.
In this environment they sing safely, always singing appropriate music to suit young and developing vocal chords.
This aspect is achieved through our organisation’s accepting environment and the repertoire selected. We celebrate equality and hold festive events for Harmony Day and more, while singing music to recognise different cultures.
Julie Christiansen OAM – Founder & Artistic Director, Voices of Birralee
Julie is well known for her compelling work with young voices throughout Australia. In 2006 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Honours List for her service to the Australian community through music. Following studies in choral conducting at the Queensland Conservatorium, Julie continues to work with young people at all levels of experience and is a popular guest clinician regarding vocal /choral techniques and literature for children’s choirs. She is regularly invited to conduct and present at choral festivals and educational workshops throughout Australia.