On Saturday, February 8th the Cantiamo Girls Choir offered the annual Choral Workshop for teachers as part of the Cantiamo Educational Outreach Program. The workshop was held at the beautiful St. John’s South March Anglican Church in Kanata.
I have personally attended several of these workshops lead by Artistic Director Jackie Hawley. Each workshop is extremely well-prepared with handouts explaining healthy singing techniques and warm-ups, new choral repertoire, hands-on conducting opportunities with members of the Cantiamo Girls Choir and Training Choir, as well as lists of professional reading and upcoming performances. Having the opportunity to watch Jackie teach a new piece to her choir is invaluable.
This year’s workshop was especially exciting because Cantiamo commissioned their composer in residence, Laura Hawley, to write a piece of music suitable for school choirs. This absolutely beautiful piece entitled, The Sun is Mine, is even dedicated to “the teachers who keep our children singing”. This gesture shows the commitment Jackie has to giving children beauty in their lives through sound choral music and the respect she has for the teachers who share this passion and strive to offer school music programs with greater confidence, skill, and artistry.
A recording of The Sun is Mine, sung by the Cantiamo Girls Choir, was made for the teachers along with an instrument-only part we can use for performances. Teachers appreciate being able to offer music with such artistic depth and educational integrity to school choir students who have limited singing experience.
Jackie opens her workshops by thanking teachers for the important role we play in children’s lives and how blessed our school communities are to have us. This is so important for school teachers to hear. We spend years trying to convince others of the importance of a quality school music program, often negotiating for space, time, and funding.
My teaching has improved considerably over the years thanks to these choral workshops. I have completely changed how I approach a new piece and feel more confident and at ease. This training has given me direction and purpose in my teaching. My colleagues have also noticed an improvement in the quality of sound in the children’s voices over the years and have grown to appreciate the choir even more.
I am so grateful to Jackie, Laura, the Cantiamo Girls Choir and Training Choir, the many volunteers, and the Community Foundation of Ottawa for this Educational Outreach Program. The many skills, vocal and conducting techniques, and incredible package of new music we take away from these workshops are only part of the reason I keep signing up for this workshop year after year. For me, it is the powerful, inexplicable feeling in my chest that swells up each time I listen to these children and young women sing. With tears in my eyes and joy in my heart, I understand what it is to be human.
– Kathy Goodsell, Elementary Teacher