NEW PALESTINE — When entering an elementary school, you can always hear the sounds of children’s voices as they learn, laugh and play.
Every Tuesday night at Sugar Creek Elementary School, a different sound can be heard as children’s singing echoes through the hallways.
The Indianapolis Children’s Choir has a regional choir that meets once a week at the school.
The county choir program consists of Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks and Johnson counties. The program is designed to carry the prestigious group’s reach into the suburbs and “break down geographic barriers,” marketing director Laura Neidig said.
Before the program began, the only way Hancock County children could get involved in Children’s Choir was to travel to the campus of Butler University, where the group holds its rehearsals. But now, local parents have an option.
Pam Eccles’ son, Alan, is a fifth-grader at Sugar Creek Elementary and was one of many children in the county who was asked to be part of the regional choir.
“He loves to sing,” Eccles said of her son.
Last year, the regional choir was held in Greenfield. That’s where Eastern Hancock Elementary School student Lainie Lawrence went to work on her singing skills.
“We would not be able to travel all the way to Indianapolis, so this is great,” said Lainie’s mother, Bobbie Lawrence. “It opens up so many different avenues for the children. This is how they can do other things when they live in a small town.”
The children are being taught by Katie McDaniel, a former member of the Children’s Choir and current music specialist at Sugar Creek Elementary.
“It is very exciting to have a regional branch of Indianapolis Children’s Choir right here in New Palestine,” she said.
McDaniel was a music education major who studied voice at Anderson University.
“The goal of this program is to offer quality music education to the children,” she said.
Above all, she wants to foster the love of music in the students.
“I like this a lot,” New Palestine Elementary School sixth-grader Gabby Pritt said.
“This is my first year to do something like this, and she’s making me memorize notes and I’ve never done that before and I like that a lot.”
The students will perform four major concerts this year. All regional choirs come together to form one larger choir and will perform at various locations throughout Indianapolis.
McDaniel said it gives her joy to not only hear how the students develop through the course of the year, but to watch their understanding of music increase
“I love to see their confidence grow as they grow as a musician,” she said.
Neidig said the Children’s Choir is one of the largest and most successful children’s choirs in the world, teaching over 3,000 children from 18 months old to age 18.
The regional program lasts the length of the school year.