REIDSVILLE—Two female musicians here have organized a youth choir to give children the opportunity to hone their singing and perform in public, an initiative they believe will strengthen the community.
Rockingham Youth Singers, open to children ages 8 to 14, held their first auditions on September 8 at Main Street United Methodist Church here.
The church partners with choir co-founders Renee Goletz, music director, and Joelle Begic, program director. The two form a mother-daughter duo with a love of music that binds them.
Young singers who wish to audition must prepare a one-minute song, or they can sing a song provided to them by the producers.
Goletz and Begic said they created RYS so children in the community could show off their musical talents and participate in an extracurricular activity outside of school and church.
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“While we encourage participation in these areas, we serve all of Rockingham County and plan to perform at special events throughout the county,” Goletz said.
Performances are scheduled for December 10, March 11 and June 3, organizers said.
Make a plan
The idea for the youth choir began when Begic reviewed Facebook posts about children’s choirs she had once organized in Colorado.
She said such happy memories sparked her desire to form a similar choir in Rockingham County. And realizing there was no children’s choir in the county, she suggested her mother help start one.
“She has the musical background,” Begic said of her mother. And Begic herself recalled the pleasure of being a former member of college and high school choirs.
Goletz, who teaches piano and vocal lessons at Scales Street Music in Reidsville, said since moving to Reidsville from Colorado last year, the idea had crossed her mind.
Around June 1, Begic suggested Goletz teach a two-week workshop or offer another musical activity for the summer, but the choir idea was more appealing, Goletz said.
And this month, the couple, along with Goletz’s other daughter, Jessica Leth, came up with the concept and name of the Rockingham Youth Singers.
“We’re really excited to get started and to hear the beautiful kids sing along with their beautiful voices,” Goletz said.
The hardest part of organizing a choir was finding a rehearsal space and a forum for the RYS concerts.
“I’m a bit silly too, so I’m sure the kids will laugh and sing along,” Goletz said. “We just like to have fun and laugh.”
find their voices
“Singing is an art that can both come naturally and can be learned,” Begic said. “It’s self-expression and a powerful way to get things heard.”
As children get older and their brains develop, studies show that children involved in music have increased attention spans and are able to expand their vocabulary, retain more information and learn more. sharpen their memory.
“Children who participate in extracurricular activities tend to do better in school and/or participate in more school-related functions,” Begic said.
Good for kids, good for community
Participating in such activity outside of school leads to a better sense of community and promotes the growth of local arts functions, organizers said.
Both women were born into musical families. As a youth, Begic was a member of several choirs, including Young Voices of Colorado and high school and church choirs. She also played clarinet in a band.
Although she had “dabbled” in the trumpet, guitar, trombone and piano for several years, Begic decided to pursue a career in the field of human services.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from Metropolitan State University of Denver and a master’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Denver. She now works for Rockingham County.
She and Elvedin, her husband of 20 years, have two teenagers. They moved to Madison from the West in 2017 because they wanted a change of scenery, Begic said.
In her spare time, Begic enjoys boating, fishing, watching movies with her husband, or going to the beach with her family.
Goletz, who taught music for many years, holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Metropolitan State and a master’s degree in human resources from the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Kansas.
Goletz has additionally participated in community choirs in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Portland, Oregon and Denver. She performed Mother Abbess in “Sound of Music” and Mrs. Bedwin in “Oliver” as part of the Colorado Summer Musicals program. She is the musical director and piano accompanist for the children’s group at her church.
A talented seamstress, Goletz designed the Go-Letz Sing Add-O-Pocket for choir folders so community choir singers can keep valuable personal items with them during performances when safe places are rarely available. She also sews other musical items for musicians.
“We invite all the kids in Rockingham County to come sing with us,” Goletz said. ” It’s gonna be fun.”