ENMU offering youth choirs through outreach program

Argen Duncan

Young voices will have an outlet at Eastern New Mexico University this fall.

Heather Vest, an experienced choir director and a Portales resident, is starting two children’s choirs, the junior choir for third- to fifth-graders and the senior choir for sixth- through eighth-graders.

The choirs are part of the university’s Distance Education and Outreach program.

“I want to teach them how to read music, but more than that, I want to teach them to make beautiful sounds together,” Vest said. “I also want to expose them to great music from all around the world. I would love to give them the experience of performing throughout the community for concerts, events and with the choirs at ENMU.”

Vest plans rehearsals each week starting in September and a concert each semester. This semester, she said, the children are to learn and perform Christmas songs, including traditional tunes, African carols and music in Hebrew and Latin.

“It’s really open,” Vest said of the choir. “It’s ‘Please come and learn.’”

The choirs are open to youth in Portales, Clovis and surrounding communities. Vest said members of the senior choir must participate in their school’s choir, unless they are home-schooled.

Vest’s daughter, third-grader Emmalyn, is planning to join the junior choir.

“I am so excited that I get to sing with my friends — my friends are going to be in it,” Emmalyn said. “And I love that my mommy’s going to be conducting it. I love singing.”

Fourth-grader Rebekah Christensen said she was going to be in the junior choir because her mother, Heather, was going to accompany the group on piano. Rebekah said she liked to sing and had never been part of a choir before.

Vest said her husband, Jason, began his path to teaching music at the college level when he participated in the Indianapolis Children’s Choir. Vest, who has a bachelor’s in music education, said she was starting the children’s choirs because she wanted local youth to have the same opportunity her husband did.

“When something syncs, when the song comes together, the kids get excited, and that’s what I’m excited about, just seeing them succeed,” Vest also said.

Heather Christensen, who is set to accompany both choirs, said she thought the groups were a good opportunity for children to learn and to experience singing with others.

“It’s just really neat to be able to make music together as a group,” she said.

Fast facts

• What: Eastern New Mexico Children’s Choir

• Who: Area third- through eighth-graders

• When: Fall 2010 semester runs Sept. 7 through Dec. 14

• Rehersals: Junior Choir, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays; Senior Choir: 7-8 p.m. Tuesdays

• Where: ENMU Music Building

• Information and registration: call 562-2165 or visit the Office of Distance Education and Outreach in the ENMU Education Building, Room 102.

• Cost: $99, plus a separate fee for a T-shirt