The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 11, 2014

Kids lift up voices in new choir

By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Every Wednesday afternoon, little voices raise in song at St. Paul Lutheran Church.

More than two dozen children from throughout Clinton meet once a week as the Clinton Community Children’s Choir. Adults from several community churches join together to teach and lead the children in song.

“We’re really trying to teach the kids how to sing,” co-director Audrey Owen said.

A music teacher herself, Owen wanted to start a communitywide children’s choir for some time. This fall, she decided to do it and even received a grant from her church, St. Paul Lutheran. Co-director Paul Hopkins, from First United Methodist Church, and leader Deanna Petersen, from St. John Lutheran Church, were excited when they heard Owen’s idea for a choir.

“And I thought, ‘Hey, what a nice idea,’” Hopkins said. “I’d also like to pool our resources.

The choir is open to grades second to seventh and meets from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. each Wednesday. Some teenagers, like Marisa Heine, 14, and Kyla Schaw, 14, volunteer to pass out music to the children and get them ready at performances. While they both attend most practices, the do not sing with the group during public events.

The song list is quite diverse, with Owen and Hopkins each picking approximately half of the songs. While most of the choir leaders represent area churches, the music includes both religious and secular songs.

Owen and Hopkins like to mix up the collection of songs, even featuring some seen in popular movies. Sometimes the music is enhanced with sign language, instruments and other tools. However, Hopkins said the children do not always like the fun, “bouncy” songs best.

“Surprisingly, they do seem to recognize some elements of beauty,” Hopkins said.

Currently, the children are singing a lot of winter-themed songs in preparation for the choir’s “Songs on a Winter Afternoon” concert. The event will start at 3 p.m. Jan. 26 at St. Paul Lutheran Church with a reception following the performance.

Since the choir began in September, Hopkins and Owen have noticed a definite improvement in the children’s singing.

“We like to believe they’ve been challenged and they’ve risen to that challenge,” Hopkins said.