Choirs expand range to Papillion

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Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013 12:00 am

Sing Omaha, a nonprofit organization made up of several choirs, does more than just perform music.

The choir leaders help students in Sing Omaha’s Children’s and Youth choirs sharpen their singing abilities, learn to read music and show them how to sing as individuals as well as in a group setting.

Matt Hill, who founded the organization in 2007 and currently acts as a conductor, said Sing Omaha choirs utilize a singing curriculum created by Ruth Dwyer, the associate artistic director of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir.

Dwyer is an international authority on children’s voices and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir is the largest, most successful community choir organization for students in the country, he said.

One of the most important things Sing Omaha is doing, Hill said, is teaching the students what they perhaps aren’t learning in their music classes at school, because their program tends to augment what the public school system offers.

With less and less time for kids to focus on music in school, Sing Omaha is able to give children the opportunity to focus on the craft.

“We want a kid who has a desire to sing. If a child has a desire to participate in music, we can assume they have some level of ability,” Hill said. “(Our program) provides students — with passion for music — with an opportunity to learn from experts and educators and with other students who share the same enjoyment.”

Rachel Hendrickson, youth choir director for Sing Omaha East, said that a student’s abilities are measured on how well he or she can sing, read music and whether or not he or she can sing alone as well as blend with the group.

“They have to be able to sing, but then also listen to see if they are blending with the others,” she said. “We also test to see if they can do more challenging things.”

Hill said that it goes beyond the music, because they are showing students how to participate as a group and to be punctual and accountable.

The Sing Omaha organization, overall, has seven different choirs with rehearsal spaces in different locations with close to 20 members in each choir.

Sing Omaha East, located in Papillion, has a Children’s Choir, for children between kindergarten and third grade, and a Youth Choir, for children between third grade and sixth grade.

Rehearsals are held at Walnut Creek Elementary School, 720 Fenwick St., on Thursday evenings.

There is also a Children’s and Youth choir for Sing Omaha West’s location, which resides in Millard. Rehearsals are held at Divine Shepherd Lutheran Church, 15005 Q St., on Monday evenings.

The Children’s and Youth choirs don’t require an audition to participate, and they held their first rehearsal on Thursday for both locations

Hendrickson said that while Sing Omaha includes everyone in its Children and Youth choirs, they have a standard they want to keep, and Sing Omaha is their chance to provide students with an opportunity to work on the vocal craft.

Sing Omaha, which was founded in 2007, also has choirs select for girls, women and adults, all requiring auditions, for students who want to continue singing in the choir.

The Girls Choir is for girls in grades six through 12. The Women’s Choir is for women age 18 and up, and the Adult Choir is for both men and women.

Those rehearsals are held at the Lutheran Church of the Master, 114th and Center St., on either Tuesday evenings or Saturday mornings.

Each group performs between two to five concerts per year, depending on the age group.

All seven groups will perform at the Christmas Fan Fair concert in December.

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