Welcome to Guelph Youth Singers!
Guelph Youth Singers is a community choir that provides opportunities for talented children within Guelph and surrounding counties to sing and enhance their skills in musical knowledge and theory, to foster personal friendships, to hone social skills and develop performance ability.
The GYS Experience:
- Weekly rehearsals with training in vocal technique, repertoire, theory and sight-singing
- Weekend workshops with professionals
- Social and learning weekends with other exceptional choirs
- Performance opportunities with professional musicians in some of Ontario’s best venues.
- The opportunity to sing with Guelph’s prestigious and national award-winning choir.
- Qualified families can receive bursaries to assist with program fees as funds permit.
Parents’ Start-Up Meeting and Annual General Meeting
Each year begins with a Start-Up Meeting in the Recital Hall of the GYMC – Dates are announced. Parents are urged to attend and choristers are welcome.
This meeting will include:
- A snapshot of the coming season
- Details on volunteer opportunities
- A presentation of the unaudited financial statement from the previous year as required by our corporate structure
- A chance to meet with one another, ask questions, arrange car-pooling, etc.
Auditions & Re-Auditions
Entrance into GYS is dependent on a selective audition to determine placement and readiness for the Choir. In order to assess strengths and weaknesses, the Music Director will, at his discretion, re-audition current choristers who may want to move to another choir within GYS.
Rehearsals for the entire season are scheduled as far in advance as possible, though changes are sometimes necessary. All rehearsals and events, including workshops, festivals and dress rehearsals, are not optional. Please review the section on commitment for full details and expectations.
Arriving at Rehearsal
Upon arrival at GYMC, choristers should sign-in and hand in theory workbooks which will be marked at rehearsal and should be picked up by the chorister before going home. Please be sure that your chorister arrives on time, that is, at least 10 minutes early, in order to hand in items, pick-up music, greet friends, and be ready to sing!
Educational activities may include theory flashcards and skills testing. Using theory flashcards that support the theory workbooks, choristers review musical concepts in pairs or with mentors or parent volunteers. Individual skills testing may involve: singing along with hand sign patterns, keyboard tasks, memorization of texts, interval singing, sight-singing, etc. All these skills support good choral singing and skills building.
Choristers should miss rehearsals only for illness. Please use the contact number on the front cover to let us know your chorister is ill. If a chorister is absent and no phone call has been received, the chorister’s home will be contacted to let them know their chorister has not arrived. If a chorister is not contagious and feels well enough to come and listen, he/she is encouraged to attend rehearsal to benefit from the instruction that the Conductor gives. If a chorister misses two rehearsals or more in any term for reasons other than sickness, they may be asked to leave the choir. No refund of any fees will be given in this case. Unavoidable conflicts other than illness sometimes arise (such as Royal Conservatory Examinations) and in that case, the Artistic Director should be contacted in advance, in writing (email is great!), and given the reason for the projected absence, with a copy of the notification being given to the Administrator.
A weekly, choir-specific memo is sent around by email each Friday. Memos contain notes from the conductor as well as event and fundraising details. They should be read immediately as some items are time sensitive. Memos are the communication life-line of the choir. Older choristers will also be on email distribution lists and there is an expectation that they will read and respond to memo items.
All members of Choir II, and some members of Choir III, must complete theory homework. It is optional for choristers in Choir I; however, any chorister who is entering Choir II must have completed Book 1 before entering or in September.
The theory and ear training programme has been a popular and successful part of GYS and a key component in building choral excellence. The programme helps choristers to understand the theory behind sight-singing and to read with both solfa syllables and intervals. Each workbook is supported by a CD or by online access, with tracks corresponding to each lesson. The workbooks are written to be a specific aid to building sight-singing skills and the theory understanding needed to support choral singing. They are not intended to replace a full keyboard theory programme, and there are skills included that are not developed in a keyboard programme.
The programme of workbooks used by GYS choristers is called A Young Singers’ Journey. The five levels of workbooks are sold through GYS at the office or rehearsals for $25 each. Most choristers should complete approximately two books during the season. The books are marked weekly by parent volunteers and mentors. Theory coaching is available during pre-rehearsal activity (Choir I) and during the early part of Choir II rehearsals. If a chorister has been having difficulty with certain concepts, the chorister may be asked to redo all, or part, of a workbook before proceeding to the next one.
Guelph Youth Singers no longer offers private lessons as a part of our formal programming. We still see the value of this incredible resource for all of our singers, but as a choir organization, need to focus our efforts on offering the highest level of choral education, and maximize the singers’ time together as an ensemble.
Expertise in developing the healthiest singers is paramount in producing great choirs, and Markus and Heather keep vocal pedagogy at the forefront of all of their teaching. Choir II and Cantabile will continue their relationship with our head vocal coach, Marion Samuel-Stevens, as she is involved in our weekly rehearsals, leading sectionals and assisting Markus in the healthy development of our young singers.
GYS urges all members of GYS to consider incorporating private vocal lessons in your schedule. Marion Samuel-Stevens and Angela Monkhouse will continue to be our ‘in-house’ teachers, meaning that they are our preferred teachers on hand, but lessons will be negotiated privately between families and the individual vocal coach. We all know how outstanding Marion and Angela have been as teachers in GYS, and we hope everyone will continue our relationship with these fantastic artists.
The greatest advantage to you is that you can now schedule lessons that are longer than 10 minutes in duration! Please feel free to contact both Marion and Angela at the addresses below. We encourage you to do this ASAP as their schedules will book up quickly with singers wanting longer lessons.
- Marion Samuel-Stevens: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Angela Monkhouse: email@example.com
Homework and Practice Tracks
Practicing at home reinforces what has been done at rehearsal and accelerates the learning of both notes and words. It also helps the ear to develop much more quickly than can be achieved in just one rehearsal per week. Recordings of repertoire are sent out on Dropbox (or CD if requested) for choristers where needed and as time permits. These aids should be used for practice with the music to improve music reading and accuracy. All Choir I & II and most Choir III music is memorized for performances and should be memorized as early as possible in each term. Please note that GYS practice CDs are considered GYS property and must be returned at the end of each term.
Music is a major expense for GYS. To keep costs down, GYS has established a cooperative arrangement with other choirs. Lost or damaged music is a major problem and threatens our ability to borrow from other choirs. Markings on the music must be limited to neat, easily erased markings and only those relevant to music. To reduce wear, tear and loss, music should always be kept in the music bags and/or folders.
Please note that lost or damaged music will result in a replacement charge of at least $5 per piece of music, to allow for the cost of the piece of music, shipping charges, and possible administrative charges from a supplier. These replacement charges must be paid before registration can be accepted for a subsequent year. A deposit of $30 for music is required at the beginning of the season.
All GYS choristers should have a GYS polo shirt. Choir I & Choir II choristers should also purchase a GYS t-shirt. A GYS hoodie is optional for all choristers except those in Choir III (who must purchase one as part of the touring choir). An order form from Minuteman Press will be given out at the first rehearsal so that families can order and purchase these shirts. In addition, Choir III/sheVoce girls purchase a formal concert uniform which consists of a ¾ length sleeve blue top and black palazzo pants. These are sewn by a local seamstress and require a fitting either during the summer or first thing in September. A $50 cash deposit is required at the fitting with a $100 charge applied when the outfit is completed. Choir III/Young Men’s Ensemble boys purchase their own plain, black dress shirts (with black buttons) & black dress pants. A $15 deposit cheque is required at registration for the loan of a GYS tie. Choir I & II choristers perform in the GYS polo shirt with their own plain, black dress pants. All choirs wear black socks/hose and black dress shoes.
Performances are always an exciting event for choristers. At the major concerts of the season, there is a dress rehearsal, either the evening before or on the day of the concert, followed by the concert in the evening of the concert date. Choristers who miss the dress rehearsal or are not considered ready to perform may be asked to sit out a concert. Lack of attendance, tardiness, and not having music prepared can all affect a singer’s performance at rehearsals and concerts.
Retreats, Workshops, Festivals and School Concerts
One-day camps for Choirs I and II, and an overnight camp for Choir III, are held in the fall of each year. These camps, a mix of social and musical activity, are a great way for choristers to get to know one another and to get a jump-start on the season’s music. Fall camps are being held at Camp Ki Wa Y. A camp bus will provide transportation both to the camp and back again from the Guelph Youth Music Centre. Payment for the camp is included in the registration fees.
Workshops and festivals are held on weekends in a variety of locations. They often include guest choirs, a guest conductor or a drama coach. Workshops are held for the fun of interacting musically and socially with other children’s choirs and with new conductors. For Choirs II and III these events may involve bussing out of town. Payment for retreats, workshops and festivals is included in the registration fees.
Touring allows the choir to grow musically. Choristers benefit from the extra performance opportunities, as well as from hearing other choirs. The choristers enjoy social activities, are well supervised, and broaden their musical experience. To allow for tour fundraising and exceptional touring opportunities, Choir III choristers will have the opportunity to go on a choir exchange or tour every other season. 2018/19 is not a tour season, but a musical day-trip is planned for this non-touring season.
Parent power is essential to sustaining this high quality organization. There are countless ways for each person to volunteer. Please volunteer in as many areas as you are able, though every family is expected to choose at least two volunteer commitments and help with one fundraising activity. Below is heads-up information for you to consider about GYS volunteer needs for 2018/2019. There will be volunteer sign-up sheets at the Parent’s Start-Up meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 12. Although we know that schedules change and situations come up, we ask that you bring your agendas to the Parent meeting on Sept. 12 and book your expected volunteer commitments. This will give us a foundation for our volunteer schedule throughout the upcoming season. Other volunteer opportunities will be made available during the season as the need arises. All volunteer commitments that you have signed up for on Sept. 12 will be confirmed by later emails or phone calls by an event coordinator. GYS needs your talent and a bit of your time. Please remember: fund-raising and volunteering are two separate commitments.
Chaperone (i.e. be a parent helper) for your chorister’s choir at a concert, retreat, workshop or other event. The need for chaperones is great! Please consider one or more events for which you are able to assist. Please note that times are extended slightly from the scheduled times to allow chaperone supervision 30 minutes before and after each event. All volunteers will need to fill out a police check /vulnerable sector form which is available from GYS staff at rehearsals or at the office. (Information will need to be confirmed by ID at rehearsal.) Forms are valid for three years & do not need to be repeated each year. The police check is free for Guelph residents. GYS can copy an original police check from another organization, but GYS staff must see the original.
Volunteer sign-ups for any separate Music Theatre Academy, sheVoce and Young Men’s Ensemble events will be determined as events are scheduled.
GYS is no different than many other charitable organizations in that fundraising makes up a significant portion of its annual revenue. The fundraising goal set for each choir family joining in September is $525 ($625 for families with more than one child in the choir.) The fundraising requirement is prepaid over 9 monthly payments (there are 9 months from September to the end of May) to be submitted with the 9 monthly registration payments. Consequently, the 9 monthly post-dated cheques required with your registration package include both registration fees and your fundraising commitment fees. If your family participates in a GYS designated fundraising activity, you will receive a refund cheque around June 30, 2019, for a predetermined percentage of the fundraising dollars collected by your family up to a maximum of $525 per family with one chorister enrolled and $625 per family with two or more choristers enrolled in GYS. Instead of a refund cheque, you could also opt to donate your excess fundraising credits to GYS in exchange for an income tax receipt.
Each year fund-raising events are evaluated for return of profit and for effort involved. Because of the huge amount of administrative work that the fund raising initiatives create, this season for September enrolment, we are limiting the designated fundraising initiatives to Fundscrip. Another designated fundraiser may be added during the season.
Fundscrip is a new approach to fundraising through gift-cards. Some of you may already be aware of Fundscrip through schools and other organizations, especially since Fundscrip is quickly catching on as an excellent fundraising strategy. This is an easy program to adopt, principally because it has no requirement to change what or where you spend, and the gift cards purchased are the same as those available in stores.
Quite simply, as a GYS supporter, you purchase gift cards through Fundscrip at face value. Fundscrip order forms are available at rehearsal and sent around by email, with the following order dates: 3rd week in November, last week in February and the last week in April (depending on program participation.) You pay for your order directly to Guelph Youth Singers, either by cheque (payable to the choir) or by cash. Once the orders are placed, you will pick up the gift cards you ordered at rehearsal, and use your gift cards for everyday purchases. Each purchase earns a percentage (generally 2-8% depending on the retailer) for GYS, at no cost to you. For example, an order for:
$300 Loblaws cards, (3%=$9)
$200 Petro Canada cards, (2%=$4)
$50 Chapters cards, (5%=$2.50) and
$50 Starbucks cards (5%=$2.50)
automatically earns $18 for GYS.
Since Fundscrip provides reporting on individual gift card purchases, this fundraiser will also provide GYS families with the opportunity to earn fundraising credits which can be reimbursed to GYS families at the end of June 2019. For example, if you purchase gift cards and earn $18 for GYS, you will be reimbursed 50% of the amount earned.
Fundscrip offers gift cards for an extensive list of retailers so it is easy to incorporate fundraising into everyday household spending as well as gift-giving.
Thank you for checking out the Guelph Youth Singers!
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