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Children Learn to Sing in Harmony with the San Diego Children's Choir

By S. Mathur

The San Diego Children's Choir has been bringing music into the lives of children and the community for over twenty-five years. Since its founding by Polly Campbell, who was also the first musical director, its mission has been to provide the children of San Diego a choral music education and to foster awareness of cultural diversity. Children and their parents alike value the experience gained through travel and performance.

Given that school arts programs are often at the mercy of budget cuts, the SDCC also fulfills an important role in the educational system. SDCC Director Kelsey Young explains the benefits of music for young minds: "Research has found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances multiple skill sets that children inevitably use in other areas, such as fine motor control and language development," she says. "Children who study music, especially from a young age, also show improved spatial-temporal skills and an overall larger growth of neural activity in the brain. But aside from the technical benefits, group musical activities like being in a choir, allow children to develop their social skills, gain confidence, and make life-long friendships and memories."

But most important is the sheer joy of making music. Children are exposed to a variety of composers and music genres. They are able to explore the beauty of choral music and to express themselves through song. One parent writes: "Our daughter has been singing with SDCC for over 5 years. One of the rewards for us is we get to hear her break into spontaneous singing in the car from time to time."

The choir enrolls children from ages 4 to 18. Auditions are required for all except grades 1-2. Performances include a schedule of local, national, and international tours. International tours take the choir to Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Switzerland, and the UK. Summer day camps and neighborhood choir outreach programs extend the choir's mission.

A highlight of the choir's calendar is the annual Spring Concert at the landmark Copley Symphony Hall, which features performances by all choristers from grades 1 through 12. Young says: "Not only was it gratifying as a teacher to see my students succeed, but it was heartwarming as a community member to see these talented children giving their all and sharing the gift of music. They are the next generation of skilled musicians and I know that because of their musical education, no matter what they go on to do, they will be more well-rounded individuals."

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