FAQ for Parents
Parents, this section is for you. The FAQ for Singers and Parents includes information that your singer might also be curious about, including rehearsal schedule, performances, the kinds of music we sing, opportunities to experience rehearsals, camp, auditions (or, actually, lack of auditions), etc. Please read that section as well.
What is the responsibility of a Sisters’ Voices parent or guardian?
Thank you for asking!
A Sisters’ Voices parent has several essential responsibilities:
- To get your child to rehearsals every week on time. When a child is absent or late it affects the entire ensemble. Being on time means being a little early! Please have your child at rehearsal 5-10 minutes before the beginning of her rehearsal.
- To let Leandra know when your child will be missing or late. Communication helps!
- To read all email communications from Sisters’ Voices. We know you are busy. Still, there are things you need to know in order to help your child successfully participate in her ensemble. Emails are the way we communicate, and we ask parents to sign a contract agreeing to read our emails and respond as needed.
There are other things parents can do to be helpful. We’ll ask when we need something specific. There might be short-term volunteer opportunities that come up from time to time. We also need parents to serve on our board of directors!
How much does it cost?
This information can be found here. Please note that tuition for our year-long ensembles is on a sliding scale based on family income.
Please reach out to Jenny Walters at Jenny@sistersvoices.org with questions.
My child is going to sing with Sisters’ Voices, and I want to help her – but I don’t have the skills to sing along with her. How can I help?
First, identifying that your child is developing skills that you don’t possess is a great start! Trust her process. If her singing doesn’t sound great to you, find something positive to say that is true. Don’t bother to say the negative stuff. Comment on her quick memorization of the words, on how seriously she is taking her learning, on her courage. Get curious about what she is enjoying about singing, about what the words mean to her, about how she feels about performing.
Give her room to just enjoy it.
Protect her privacy to work on her music without comment (negative or positive) from you or anyone else in the house.
If you are interested in a short lesson on singing with your child, contact me, Leandra, and we’ll find a time to get together.
FAQ for Singers and Parents
How do singers become part of Sisters’ Voices?
Singers register here to sing.
When are rehearsals held?
This is a possible schedule for 2023-2024 (subject/likely to change … please feel free to submit comments and questions to Leandra – email@example.com). We will announce the official schedule asap.
4:15-5:15 SV-Three Skills Class
4:15-5:15 SV-One (starting Session A, in September)
5:30-6:45 SV-Four Skills Class – Beginning
7:00-8:15 SV-Five Skills Class – Beginning
4:15-5:15 SV-One (starting Session B, in October)
5:30-6:45 SV-Four Small Group – Intermediate/Advanced
7:00-8:15 SV-Five Small Group – Intermediate/Advanced
No scheduled rehearsals
3:00-6:00 SV-Five (or 12:30-3:30)
4:00-6:00 SV-Four (combined with Five)
6:00-8:00 Dinner and Conversation alternating weeks for SV-Four and SV-Five
Where are rehearsals held?
Binkley Church, 1712 Willow Drive, Chapel Hill, in Room 15
How often does Sisters’ Voices perform?
Ensembles join together for performances at the end of each semester. Our Winter Concert is in January, and our Spring Concert is in May.
We often sing festival performances to support other organizations. Examples of festival performances include appearances at ClydeFEST in Bynum, the Carrboro Music Festival, and Orange County Arts Commission’s First Friday event. We also sometimes collaborate with other artists around town. These extra performances will be set up during the year and will be optional (but encouraged!) for singers.
The first week or two of summer, rising 5th grade through middle school singers put together a theatrical performance. This coming summer we’ll perform Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore (very fun!). Look for our Theater Workshop Camp in June!
What will I need to do for my audition?
SV singers are invited to register without audition. SV-Four (middle school) and SV-Five (high school) incoming singers will meet individually with Leandra before or after registering to help Leandra get to know the singer’s skills and learning process, and to help the singer get to know Leandra and the expectations of singing in a Sisters’ Voices ensemble. New singers who want to test into the Intermediate/Advanced small group will arrange for testing at this meeting.
Do I need to have experience singing in an ensemble to have a good Sisters’ Voices experience?
No. No experience is needed to have a great time in Sisters’ Voices. All levels of skills and experience are welcome!
If I come into a beginning level small group, can I move into a more advanced class mid-year if my skills progress quickly?
Sure! Skill building classes are meant to be flexible and geared toward individual skill development. All new singers enter at the beginning level and are moved to more challenging classes as they demonstrate developing skills. A singer who has a lot of choral experience but who has not been introduced to solfege may progress quickly. Likewise, a person who reads music at the piano but who doesn’t yet sing may put skills together and progress after just a few weeks.
See Skills by Ensemble for expectations of singers coming into each group.
Is Camp a good way to get to know what Sisters’ Voices will be like?
Sisters’ Voices Camp is a good way to get to know Leandra and a great way to get a handle on (or progress with) skills that you’ll be building all year, but it’s not a very good way to get to know what singing in an ensemble is like. Ensembles that meet for an hour or two each week during the school year are very focused on learning skills and music for performances. At camp, because we have a more expansive amount of time together with no performance, we take time to learn skills and information more deeply, study performances of other ensembles, get into sometimes-lengthy discussions about the stories behind and meaning of our music, read together, experiment with different aspects of sound and the organization of sound, jump rope, and play games (etcetera!). Many of these activities do not fit into our regular ensemble experience during the year. For summer 2023, Sisters’ Voices Camps will be open only to singers to will sing for the 23-24 season. Our Summer Theater Workshop is open to everyone, whether or not you’ll sing for the 23-24 season, and we’d love to have you join us!
Can I visit a rehearsal before making a commitment to sing next year?
We are scheduling Open Rehearsals through this spring for singers who are interested in exploring the possibility of joining a Sisters’ Voices ensemble; sign up here. Feel free to bring questions, and expect to learn a couple pieces of music and to sing with the group. Singers who attend Open Rehearsals will not be asked to sing alone. If your singer would like an opportunity to sing for Leandra, please set that up at a separate time.
Please note that Open Rehearsals are not our regular ensemble rehearsals, though some SV singers are likely to attend Open Rehearsals for fun. Because we work hard to build a safe environment where singers are willing and wanting to take the risk of singing in front of each other, and because we will want to focus on new singers when they come, we don’t usually invite new singers into our regular rehearsals.
How is learning to read music with Sisters’ Voices (or any chorus) different from learning to read music in piano lessons?
When a person learns to read music through learning to play an instrument, she looks at a note on the page and puts a finger on a string, key, or button. She learns to create a movement with hands, lips, arms, body, based on the musical notation.
When a person learns to look at a piece of music and sing that music without the help of an instrument, she is learning a different kind of literacy. She must first hear the music in her head before she can produce the music. Like reading words, reading music can be done in the imagination – this lifelong pursuit is the one we’re after in Sisters’ Voices.
Some teachers of instruments do teach extensive audiation (and even expect players to sing their music before playing it!), but in my experience this is unusual because it takes a great deal of time and isn’t usually very evident in the player’s technique when playing for an audience.
How is learning to sing with a chorus different from taking private lessons?
First, singers in a chorus get to work together – Sisters’ Voices is a cooperative community experience.
Second, choruses get to sing in parts.
The cost is less.
With a chorus there may be more opportunities to be on stage in front of an audience.
Generally private instructors work with older children and youth. Choral singing can begin at a younger age.
Does Sisters’ Voices offer private voice lessons?
Sisters’ Voices teaches singing in a community choral environment. Singers in Sisters’ Voices ensembles who are working to get over a hump may request individual time with Leandra, or Leandra may request individual time with a singer. This often happens when a singer is just learning to match pitch consistently, or when a singer is trying to learn to sing independently in parts, or when a singer is learning any new skill related to vocal production.
But no, Sisters’ Voices doesn’t offer private voice lessons to singers who are not involved in our ensembles.
What if I can’t match pitch? Can I learn?
Singing is learned. Just like talking — we’re not born doing it, and if we don’t sing when we’re very young, we’ll have to work harder to learn it later, a little like learning a foreign language. Learning takes experimentation, figuring it out, getting some feedback, practicing, practicing some more, doing it with other people. The more you do it, the easier and more consistent it will become, and the more fun you’ll have with it.
Most people who can hear (all that I’ve ever met) can also learn to match pitch. Please don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t carry a tune in a bucket and so shouldn’t be singing in an ensemble! (Parents please don’t label your children non-singers! — they can learn!) If a person wants to sing, she can learn how to do it, and singing is a wonderful form of self-expression and a compelling way to be in community with other people!
What kind of music do Sisters’ Voices ensembles sing?
We sing music in the Western Classical tradition, and in many folk traditions from around the world. We sometimes sing in languages other than English. We learn lots of games and dances that are tied to vocal music.
We rarely sing music in popular traditions such as Disney, Broadway, etc, though it’s awesome that you know some of this music!
I want to sing Let It Go. Why doesn’t Sisters’ Voices sing popular music?
We have a limited amount of time together to learn music and to perform, and there is so much amazing music to encounter! So we don’t study music the singers already know, or music they could learn easily from another source. Singing music that is not already part of our repertoire expands our understanding of the ways people think and of the ways people experience beauty. It gives us new musical vocabulary and skills. It opens our minds and our hearts. And it bonds us together as a group.
In my experience, the music that we do sing provides a level of depth and interest that allows us to practice the music for a long time and that makes the singers want to hold it in their hearts for years after. You won’t love everything we sing, but hopefully you’ll be open to it, and hopefully something among it will excite and inspire you.
In the past I’ve worked on and performed popular music with choruses. Most of the time, singers have decided whether they like the piece or not before they have learned it together. Then, once we’ve spent some time learning it together, the song gets old for many singers. Let’s sing new music that will challenge and interest us for a long time!
More questions? Email them to Leandra, and she’ll get back to you!