When I tell people that my daughter, Ella, is a member of the Jubilate Choir, their first reaction is, “But Ella doesn’t talk! ” The second response is, “That is really cool that she can be part of the choir despite the fact she can’t talk.” Ella has a genetic disorder that greatly affects her speech. Currently, her verbal skills consist of individual sounds and syllables. The limited speech she does have is the result of countless hours of therapy. It is very slow process, and Ella is getting to an age where she is self-conscious about “speaking” in public because others are not able to understand her.
Our family has been involved with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir for the past 13 years. Ella has always loved sitting in on rehearsals and attending concerts. Her disability not only limits her speech, but also her inhibitions, so she has never been shy about getting up and dancing when the music moves her. She has great rhythm and modifies the dance movement to match the style of the music.
When we first learned about the Jubilate Choir, we were hesitant to join; however, a conversation with Lauren Southard, Jubilate’s director, convinced us we should give it a shot. Ella loved it! She always wants to be a part of the “team” and participate in activities with other kids. This is a great opportunity for that. Plus, this class is reinforcing many of the things we practice in speech therapy, including breath control and tonal changes. Ella has gained confidence and has started singing along in the car. Her crowning moment in choir was one of the last rehearsals of last year. Each singer had the opportunity to perform a solo in front of the class. Ella raised her hand to volunteer, went to the front of the room, got herself situated on the piano bench, addressed her audience with a smile, and sang “OOOHHHH”. It was the shortest performance in the history of the ICC, but it still received a thundering round of applause.
Click here to learn more about the Jubilate choir for children with special needs and our newest summer program, the Jubilate Orff Ensemble.