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Austin Peay’s Community School of the Arts to launch Clarksville Children’s Chorus with May auditions

Children's Chorus

(Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2022)

Dr. Michael Chandler has simple yet life-changing goals for the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders who join the new Clarksville Children’s Chorus this year.

“I hope they develop a passion for singing, that they want to sing for a lifetime,” he said. “My goal is for them to enjoy life more through singing and self-expression – and the safety that singing can create for kids.”

The new Clarksville Children’s Chorus at Austin Peay State University’s Community School of the Arts will begin its inaugural year with auditions on Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14. Children who enjoy singing can sign up for auditions at the chorus's website.

After auditions, the chorus will start the school year with a two-day choir camp on Aug. 9 and 10, followed by rehearsals from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. every Monday from Aug. 15 to Nov. 7.

“I want this to be a weekly learning experience so that the kids can develop music literacy skills in addition to learning really great choral music that they enjoy,” said Chandler, an assistant professor of music and coordinator of music education at Austin Peay. He’ll serve as the chorus’s artistic director.

The fall and spring semesters will end with public concerts at the George and Sharon Mabry Concert Hall at Austin Peay. The fall concert is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 14.

Tuition is $150 per school year, and financial-aid scholarships and sibling discounts are available to families. The inaugural chorus will span the 2022-23 school year.

Spreading the love of singing

Chandler worked with Dr. Janice Crews, director of the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at Austin Peay, on establishing a children’s chorus in fall 2020, but the pandemic stalled those efforts. They relaunched their efforts in January.

The chorus will connect young singers from across the region who might not otherwise cross paths, allowing them to share a love of singing and learning to sing.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to bring together kids from all over the region – from Fort Campbell, Hopkinsville, Clarksville – to create a warm, diverse community,” Crews said. “We want to have a welcoming place for anyone interested in singing.”

The children will learn a diverse repertoire of music and songs in other languages while working with master musicians, music educators and singers. Chandler already is getting help from:

“We have so many great faculty at Austin Peay,” Chandler said. “The children will have a chance to stand on a stage and sing a beautiful piece of music with a professional playing cello with them or a professional playing oboe with them.”

Each semester will culminate with a concert at the Mabry Concert Hall at Austin Peay that features a variety of styles, including classical music, an American folk tune and “a concert-closer that’s exciting and fast-paced,” Chandler said.

“We know how powerful those experiences can be when you’re singing or performing with a huge group on stage,” Crews said. “You feel it in your body. It’s just a magical experience.”

And perhaps the children in the chorus will share those experiences with their friends and families while building on what they’re learning from their school’s music teachers.

“We hope that we can build relationships with the music teachers from the programs where these kids are coming from,” Crews said. “We want to support what they’re doing, and we hope this chorus will support what they’re already doing in the classroom.”

Auditions will be ‘simple, straightforward’

Chandler designed the auditions, which should last about five minutes each, to be easy and stress-free. Children will not face “American Idol”-style judgment.

“It’s more of a vocal assessment, just to see how you’re matching pitch and if you can find your ‘head voice,’” Chandler said.

You can download the audition packet – which includes three prerecorded audio tracks for practicing at home – from the Clarksville Children’s Chorus website.

For more information, visit www.apsu.edu/csa/chorus.

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