After a pandemic year that nearly silenced live music, hitting choirs especially hard, Jeremy David Tarrant has high hopes that we might be on the cusp of a Golden Age of choral singing and the Cathedral Choir School of Metropolitan Detroit is ready to help children be part of it.
“I very much believe we need to help children find their voice, find ways that they can be expressive, and I think this is a good place for this to happen,” says Tarrant, the Choir Director of the Cathedral Choir School of Metropolitan Detroit, which has helped generations of children find their own voice.
Openings are now available as the Choir School looks toward fall and the return to normalcy. In fact, becoming a chorister might just be what the doctor ordered to help kids reclaim some of what they lost this past year, only better. Rather than rushing from activity to activity as they did before the pandemic, kids can really focus in and succeed at one thing they’ll be able to use the rest of their lives, he says.
The Cathedral Choir is not a children’s choir, but a unique professional ensemble unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else, all set in the historic Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Detroit’s cultural center.
The Cathedral Choir School is committed to providing children with a first-rate music education through the art of choral singing. No previous experience or religious affiliation is required.
Auditions are now open for kids 8 and older regardless of background. In the auditions Tarrant says he is looking for readiness, not ability. In fact, 99% of the children who join have no previous experience, he says. Parents with younger kids eager to sing are encouraged to contact Tarrant for advice about joining the choristers.
“Humans, by their very nature, want to contribute and I think something where you are all working toward the same purpose like in a choir, is really something that benefits kids,” Tarrant says.
The many benefits of choir school
Kids will not only find their voices through becoming a chorister at the Choir School, but so much more. Some of those takeaways are what every parent hopes for their child: lifelong friendships in a community of peers from all over metro Detroit learning teamwork, independence, leadership and joy.
At the same time, learning music fuels social-emotional growth, helps kids with problem solving, boosts language and math skills, bolsters memory and helps them learn to better express themselves.
“I think all the choristers have learned that they have a gift of confidence,” says chorister parent Liz Richards. Some choristers say they’ve found compassion and acceptance at Choir School, while at the same time having fun.
Despite those benefits, this type of in-depth music education isn’t always prioritized or available in many schools. Not only will kids learn to sing, but also music theory and ear training.
“I think it pervades every area of our lives,” Tarrant says about music. “The data aside about how it helps math and reading skills, I think it is just a great tool for growth and formation.” Plus, he adds, it is a healthy activity.
Older choristers are paired with younger members to help everyone succeed and grow, making it a real musical family.
For those parents worried their child can’t sing, Tarrant is adamant that there is no such thing. Like any skill, the ability to sing comes with training and practice. “They are going to get out of it what they put into it,” he says.
For kids who love to sing but encountered someone who told them they can’t, Tarrant hopes choristers can restore their lost joy.
Rehearsals are twice a week at the cathedral. Those who want to learn to play the piano can also take lessons there for a significantly reduced price and more extracurricular activities are being considered for fall as well. There are even scholarships for music summer camps.
Choristers sing two morning services and one afternoon service every month, in addition to special services, concerts and tours.
“We’re making a long-term investment in your child and trying to nurture them through this ancient art of singing,” Tarrant says.
To find out more and sign up to audition, visit detroitcathedral.org/choir-school.