A funding windfall for a Canmore music association will serve as a launchpad to introduce a youth choir into the fold.
The Valley Winds Music Association celebrated its 25th anniversary this year and between the bands and choirs, it has had hundreds of members leave their musical mark in the community, said musical director Sue Chick Denton.
She said the youth choir is another way to expand the Valley Winds community and welcome some of Canmore’s youngest residents onto the stage.
“It is really super exciting,” Chick Denton said. “I really want this to happen.”
The association received grant funding from the Rotary Club of Canmore and the Town of Canmore to aid in the launch of the youth choir.
In order to ensure the youth choir is able to blossom and take root in the community, Valley Winds will be hosting a meeting on Monday (Nov. 25) to gauge community interest, share details about the pilot project, learn what potential members would like to see in the choir and share information about volunteering with the group.
The choir is inviting any youth between the ages of 12 and 17 to raise their voice and join in the harmony – no musical experience is necessary. Chick Denton added that she is hoping to see about 20 youth become members.
She wants to see the youth choir grow over the years and become big enough to support the formation of two choirs.
“We need a show of enthusiasm from the community,” she said. “Depending on who shows up, that will give me some ideas on how to move forward.”
Chick Denton added that the youth choir is an opportunity for kids to engage in a fun art-based activity and alternative to sports.
“This is a very sports-oriented community, and while that is not a bad thing, not everybody is into sports or want to make it their whole lives,” Chick Denton said. “The more arts-based options are available to kids, the better – to complement the sports. Or for a lot of kids, the arts will be the area they’d rather spend their time in.”
In school, children have many opportunities to practice vocal music in early grades, Chick Denton said, but these chances narrow or disappear as they grow older.
At around Grade 4, there is a shift in focus towards instrumental music.
“The kids lose the opportunity to be singing from there on,” she said. “Often they don’t come back to it.”
The goal of the youth choir is to develop a program that complements what youth learn in school, she said, because the benefits of singing and community are amazing.
“The simple act of sharing voices has been scientifically proven to benefit circulatory health and all sorts of things,” Chick Denton said. “You’re the only person who has the voice that is put in you and sharing that with a group of other voices makes the community connection really, really powerful.”
The voice is an instrument built into the human body, Chick Denton said, and when individual voices come together in harmony, it is one of the best feelings one can experience.
She added that the choir will also help build confidence. For those that may be a little nervous about ensuring they are pitch-perfect in the choir, there is no need to be anxious because the youth choir will be a safe place to grow, try new things and celebrate your and others voice.
“You’re one tree in the forest,” she said. “Nobody is isolating you, nobody is pointing a finger on you. You’re never on the spot – there’s no pressure.”
The Valley Winds Association will be hosting a youth choir information night Monday (Nov. 25) at 7 p.m. in the Canmore Public Library community room. For more information, email email@example.com or Chick Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Valley Winds will also be hosting the organization's annual Winter Concert at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1 at the Malcolm Hotel. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Children under the age of 12 are free.