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Ella Doesn’t Talk, But She Can Sing!

by Alyssa Prazeau, ICC Jubilate Parent

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 a part of the choir despite the fact she can’t talk.”  Ella has a genetic disorder that greatly affects her speech, which means 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 a 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 over a decade. Ella has always loved sitting in on rehearsals and attending concerts. Her disability may limit her speech, but not her inhibitions, so she has never been shy about getting up and dancing when the music moves her.  She has great rhythm and modifies her dance movements 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, the Jubilate choir director, convinced us we should give it a shot… and Ella loved it! She always wants to be a part of a “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.

Her crowning moment in choir was one of the last rehearsals in a recent season. 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. We never knew the impact that the ICC would have on my life or my daughter’s life, but the ICC has truly impacted my life. Through this experience, my child has gained the confidence to be herself in a way that no other outlet has granted.

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