Children's Choir of Chico
● By Kerri Regan
Angels SingDecember 2015
By Kerri Regan
Susan Tevis was no taller than a microphone stand when she knew she wanted to be a music teacher.
“I was in the fourth grade, and I loved how it made me feel when I was singing and playing instruments,” says Tevis, the founder, conductor and artistic director of the Children’s Choir of Chico. “Then when I was in seventh grade, I thought, ‘This room feels really safe and good. Wouldn’t that be fun to do with people?’”
Since then, Tevis has amassed nearly a half-century of teaching experience, with about 100 students enjoying classes each year. The choral music education organization is a nonprofit dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives through musical excellence.
“It’s an opportunity to share beautiful music with many different singers from many different age levels – from kindergartners to adult women and everybody in between,” Tevis says.
Each year, she looks for an educational blend of music, including gospels, Broadway tunes, art music and songs from around the world. “We have wonderful arrangements of folk songs – that’s how they learn about different parts of the world,” Tevis says. “When we do a song from Ghana, they learn about the culture and why they would sing a song like that.”
Children’s Choir of Chico will perform quite a bit over the holidays, Tevis says, including at the Enloe Hospital Christmas tree lighting, the Downtown Chico Business Association’s tree lighting and the Glorious Sounds of the Season scholarship fundraising concert presented by Chico State University.
The choir also does some traveling, and ventured to Europe last year. “In the cathedrals, when you get done singing and the sound just echoes, it’s absolutely beautiful,” Tevis says. “It’s stimulating for you as a person, as a musician and as a performer. People over there appreciate
great music so much.”
Music classes are open to children of all ages (there’s even a class for infants and their caregivers), and only one choir – Bel Canto for eighth grade and above – requires auditions. “Others are just ‘come and sing,’” Tevis says. She uses the Kodaly Concept – a natural progression that involves the sequential layering of skills. Over time, singers learn proper breathing techniques, proper articulation of words, critical listening, music literature, various voice characteristics and more. The concept aims to build musical literacy in all children.
Tevis earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano pedagogy and music education from Chico State University, and studied at the Kodaly Pedagogical Institute in Hungary. She has been an adjunct faculty member at several institutions, and is frequently invited to present workshops at regional, state and national music conferences. She founded Children’s Choir of Chico in 2001.
Classes are fee-based to help cover the cost of music, instructors, insurance and the like, but some scholarships are available. Rehearsals for next year begin Jan. 4.
The Children’s Choir of Chico has earned local and national recognition for music literacy, education and artistry, and received the 2009 City of Chico Mayor’s Award for achievement in the arts. Tevis enjoys making the world a little bit smaller for young artists. “When they learn songs from other parts of the world, they discover that Iranian children are just like American children who are just like children from France, sitting on the grass and throwing balls to each other,” she says. “It shows that children and adults have the same feelings we do – it builds people with compassion and empathy. We’re building people through music.”
Children’s Choir of Chico • (530) 342-2775