Bel Canto Choir Group 2 MT 2016-12-9 IMG_3796
Local News

Bel Canto Children’s Choir gives youngsters joy through song

A child’s voice can make beautiful music. That’s why Carrie Bonanotte of Homewood started the Bel Canto Children’s Choir a year ago with 10 children. Today the group is 30 children ages 4 through 12. She hopes it continues to grow when the program resumes Jan. 13.

  Bel Canto Children’s Choir kids in action. (Photos by 
  Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

 

Parents know their children love to sing — whether it’s doing their own rendition of a Disney song, humming to something on the radio or joining in at church.

A child’s voice can make beautiful music.  That’s why Carrie Bonanotte of Homewood started the Bel Canto Children’s Choir a year ago with 10 children. Today the group is 30 children ages 4 through 12. She hopes it continues to grow when the program resumes Jan. 13. 

  Carrie Bonanotte directs
  the Bel Canto Children’s
  Choir.

“I believe that kids, no matter how young, can make beautiful music and that it kind of speaks to a part of us that we all have,” Bonanotte said.

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The young voices are in the high pitch range, but the singers learn to carry a tune. They are enthusiastic in their efforts to make beautiful music.

Bonanotte recognized kids’ love of music many times when she was a junior high choir director. When she and her husband, Joe, started a family, Bonanotte decided to stay home with their three children. She put her musical talents to use giving piano lessons on a limited basis.

What struck her was the number of parents asking for vocal lessons for their young children, and the number of her piano students who loved to sing. Bonanotte’s solution was to give them a place to sing – with direction.

“Voice lessons aren’t really appropriate until about 12 or 13 years old, but I hated turning away kids who wanted to sing and so I thought ‘Well, let me try this.’ I did (choral singing) as a pilot program in my living room,” she recalled.

Bonanotte said the response was “wonderful, and we had a great time.” As word of her initial offering spread, she was able to arrange a space rental at Flossmoor Community Church. The group has been meeting on Friday afternoons. The children gave two performances during the holiday season, including at Homewood’s Holiday Lights celebration.

The children’s repertoire is everything from an Israeli folk song to pop music to traditional spirituals. She draws on her collection of music from years in the classroom, and consulted with others who highly recommended pieces that were appropriate for younger singers.

Bonanotte takes command of the class with an easy grace. Her tone is always encouraging. She begins with simple vocal drills, followed by shoulder rolls and a reminder to keep their eyes up and on her. The group is accompanied by pianist Kristen Ezenbart.

Because of the wide age range, Bonanotte said she will be dividing the group in two this next semester. The 4- and 5-year-olds will have their own group, because they typically can’t read the lyric sheets. The 6- through 12-year-olds will get the lyrics, and Bonanotte will also work on music literacy with them.

Registration for the Bel Canto Children’s Choir is ongoing for the next 15-week session. Information is at www.belcantochoir.org.

 

(Video by Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

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