Charitable Choices: Online Music Lessons from Youth Singers of Calgary

With children home and programs cancelled, there are fewer activities to help keep your tykes tired and intellectually stimulated. Due to social distancing, we can no longer have the normal music classes that were possible prior to COVID-19, but local charity Youth Singers of Calgary has a new program to promote music learning from home Starting on Monday, April 20 at 2 p.m., Calgarians are encouraged to log on to YSC’s Facebook page for a live 20-minute music class with director of education & former CBE music teacher, Megan Emmett.

Youth Singers of Calgary
Youth Singers of Calgary Choir

Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.

Youth Singers of Calgary is a Calgary-based performing arts organization that offers 15 different choirs, classes, and programs for singers in preschool through adult. No matter how old or young you are, if you’ve got someone in your house who loves to sing; whether you’ve been singing your whole life or you want to learn it for the first time, we’ve got a place for you.

Our performers start with the foundations of choral music, add movement and choreography, and develop performance skills to become better musicians and stronger people.

Right now, we are offering free online music classes for elementary school children, and have an online choral experience for older students and adults beginning on May 6. Both can be found on Facebook Live!

What problem does it aim to solve?

Right now, singing is one of the best things you can do at home. It helps you relax, breath, focus, process emotions, and experience a connection to others. By offering an online music and singing experience, we are supporting our community with a few moments of music in their week.

When did you start/join it?

Youth Singers began in 1985 with 28 junior high singers, and has since grown to over 500 members, ranging from pre-k through adult. Our online programming is a response to COVID-19, and we cannot wait to be back together singing again as soon as we can safely do so.

What made you want to get involved?

I grew up in Youth Singers – I joined the choir when I was 14, and later in life I worked for Youth Singers in production. Then I left to pursue my degree in Education, and I have taught with the Calgary Board of Education for the past 10 years. Now I am back at Youth Singers as their Director of Education, and I feel very fortunate to be able to assist with online education during this time. I love teaching music. Music has done so much for me and I feel very rewarded when I can support others in finding a way to sing and make music.

What was the situation like when you started?

Youth Singers has been engaging students in singing and moving from day one. As our program has grown and the needs of Calgarians have changed, we have evolved and offered new programs, including the ENCORE auditioned adult choir in 2009; the STAR program for youth with cognitive delays in 2012; and our KIDS & MUSIC early childhood music program, which has had Saturday classes since 2016, meeting a significant need for the families in the program.

How has it changed since?

We have recently expanded our summer daycamp program to also include PD Days and Spring Break and have started running school residencies in both school systems. We’ve added a Young Adult class for the STAR division. We continue to provide amazing programs and instruction, and currently have over 500 members, ranging from age 3 to adult, each of whom is participating in a fun, age-appropriate, and supportive program. We’ve been offering our programs online since the end of March, keeping our members singing and offering our services to the larger community as well.

What more needs to be done?

We’re always looking for ways to be creative and innovative, providing a community and a safe place for Calgary’s music lovers to find a home. We believe that creativity lies in each of us and that music is for everyone, not just a special few. We would love to know that every person in this city who has a spark of creativity has a place to express it, and want people to know that we’re a great option for their kids (and themselves!). In addition, the demand for our bursary program outstrips our capabilities each year, and we dream of a day when we can offer assistance to any singer who applies.

How can our readers help?

We would love to see a few new faces at our free Monday Music Moment Facebook Live music class, every Monday at 2:00 pm through June 29. Look out for older singer and adult opportunities coming on Wednesday evenings in May! Information on donating to Youth Singers can be found online here. If you have influence over the charities that your organization supports, please consider us in your next round of sponsorships. And visit our website for information on our programs.

Do you have any events coming up?

Our online programming is where you can find us these days, as well as on YouTube – check out our channel to see us in action. We will be here offering music and programming throughout this time and until we can sing in person together again — visit our social media channels for more information on our upcoming programs and opportunities.

Where can we follow you?

Our website, YouthSingersCalgary on Facebook, @YouthSingers on Twitter, and @YouthSingersofCalgary on Instagram.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

We love Storybook Theatre — they do great work all the time, but especially now, they’re connecting with the community and bringing art and happiness to people’s lives during this time.