There's no question that music has a way of moving people in deep and meaningful ways. Perhaps the most profound method of creating music is by means of the human voice.
"Singing is a very powerful art form," said Linda Manuilow, director of the newly formed Petaluma Children's Chorus. "Words are powerful. Think about the famous speeches you've heard or read. Think about the thought and emotion words and music evoke. They take you to another time and place and bring up feelings. When the person is the instrument and you put words and music together, it's just amazing."
Manuilow grew up with a love of music that led her to pursue a degree in music education. She taught music to elementary school children before obtaining a graduate degree in vocal pedagogy, which is voice instruction. She taught at a community college and did private lessons before taking a music teaching position with a high school in Michigan.
Children's Chorus Auditions
Warmer weather beckoned, however, and Manuilow eventually moved to Arizona to teach choir and music theory at a high school before heading farther west — to Petaluma.
"I came here to be closer to family about a year-and-a-half ago," she said. "I didn't want to teach full-time anymore, but I missed it terribly."
Manuilow led a singing workshop at St. John's Episcopal Church last year, which opened a door to the idea of starting a children's choir.
"There's a wonderful choral movement that's been going on across the country for many years now," said Manuilow. "I had talked to the pastor of St. John's about the possibility of putting a children's choir together in Petaluma."
The idea was met with great interest and the Petaluma Children's Chorus began rehearsing with 14 young singers in October. The fall session of the chorus ended with a performance in December.
"We just started our second session and have about 22 kids," said Manuilow. "I'm hoping it will grow into two choirs: one for beginners and another for some of the more advanced students."
Students in the chorus, which right now range in age from 7 to 13, must be willing to work toward the goals Manuilow has set. The first goal is that the children learn to "sing beautifully."