Frequently Asked Questions

+ Do children have to live in San José to be a part of this chorus?

No, our singers come from all over the South Bay and Silicon Valley, including Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Fremont, Morgan Hill, Milpitas, and Santa Clara. However, we identify ourselves as a San José based chorus, and we perform primarily in San José.

+ What type of music does Vivace sing? Why is certain music chosen?

Vivace introduces its singers to a wide variety of quality choral music, from folk music of various cultures to classical pieces and jazz. The early introduction of folk tunes in our Kodály based instruction enables singers to sense how the blues and other forms of folk music feed into "art" music. Being able to draw connections between seemingly disparate types of music makes our singers better performers. We want them to be excellent singers and accomplished musicians who have an open approach to music from all over the world. Consequently, Vivace teaches music in original languages.

+ How does singing in a chorus differ from taking private vocal lessons?

Singers in the chorus receive training in healthy vocal production in a group setting. As in a private lesson, warm-up exercises develop good breathing habits and vocal placement. In addition, participating in chorus builds ensemble skills, including ear training, part holding, and blending one's voice with those of others, that would be difficult to hone in the context of private lessons. Choral singing also fosters teamwork and cooperation.

+ Do you have a theory/ear training component to rehearsals and how does it work?

Vivace's theory program is based in Kodály music education. Theory is part of each rehearsal, and includes work on ear-training as well as solfege, and reading from the staff. Students who do not study an instrument privately are asked to complete a theory workbook outside rehearsals under the guidance of the teacher.

+ What is the Kodály method of music education?

The Kodály (koh-DIE) approach to music education is a unique method that allows children to hear and experience the music physically, aurally, and visually. Music is learned through movement, singing and finally through reading and writing. It teaches children, through folk songs, to recognize interval distances starting with the kind of simple intervals that children sing to accompany playground games. They are then taught those interval distances by "solfege", that is do-re-me-fa-so. From the simple well-known tunes we build a bridge to the more complex music they will learn through their choral repertoire.

+ Are children expected to practice outside of rehearsals?

Homework is not a regular part of Vivace's curriculum. Younger children, however, may need to review their lyrics as concert time approaches. As singers progress and take on more challenging music, some practice outside of rehearsal may be helpful. Singers who do not study an instrument and join Vivace in a higher level chorus may need to complete a theory workbook under the guidance of a teacher.

+ Are rehearsals limited to once a week?

Most of the instruction takes place during the weekly rehearsals. However, there is one additional rehearsal before each of the two formal concerts. Beyond that, Intermediate, Concert, Chamber and Teen Ensemble have a Saturday workshop each semester. As part of the workshop, singers will have the opportunity to work with outside clinicians, including visiting choral directors, singers, movement and Alexander specialists. Concert/Chamber Choirs also have an annual fall weekend retreat which gives them a chance to bond as a chorus and work more intensively. Teen Ensemble has a weekend retreat of their own.

+ How often does the choir perform and in what sort of venue?

Our Preparatory, Intermediate, Concert, and Chamber choirs perform together to give two formal performances per year, one at the end of each semester. Our Teen Ensembles also prepare two formal concerts each year. The formal concerts are often performed at area churches. The choirs also perform separately, including concerts for retirement homes, collaborations with local arts groups, and community performances. Vivace has sung for special programs at the San José Art Museum, Christmas in the Park, The Children's Discovery Museum, and appeared on KKUP radio, as well as Comcast Cable's program, "On the Town". Collaborations include performances with Peninsula Women's Chorus, San José Symphonic Choir, and Opera San Jose, as well as the Mission Chamber Orchestra and Peninsula Symphony Orchestra. The Concert and Chamber Choirs and the Intermediate Choir have traveled to area choral festivals including the Kodály Children's Choral Festival in Oakland, and the Central Coast Children's Choral Festival in San Luis Obispo.

+ Does the choir tour?

Vivace took its first formal tour in June, 2006, taking 28 Concert and Chamber singers to Denver, CO for the "Sing a Mile High Choral Festival" sponsored by Young Voices of Colorado. Along with 9 other choirs from around the country, Vivace presented a concert under the direction of Rollo Dilworth and Katherine Sailer as well as giving their own performances at the festival. In the summer of 2008, Vivace traveled to Hawaii for the Pacific Rim Children's Choral Festival under the direction of Henry Leck. In the summer of 2010, Vivace singers participated in the Pacific International Choral Festival (Picfest) in Oregon. The choir went back to Colorado in 2012 for the "Sing a Mile High Choral Festival" and in July, 201, the Tour Choir participated in the International Children's Choir Festival in Canterbury Cathedral and London, England under the direction of Dr. David Flood and Henry Leck.

+ Do you have a process for evaluating singer's progress individually?

Each member of the chorus receives a yearly private evaluation to check individual progress. The result of the evaluation is emailed to the chorus member's family in July with the recommendation for next season's placement and re-registration information.

+ Are parents allowed to observe rehearsals?

Yes, parents are always welcome. If a parent is interested in observing the rehearsal of a chorus of which their child is not a member, we appreciate a call to the office in advance.

+ What happens in an assessment? Does my child need to prepare for it?

Vivace's assessments are a relaxed and friendly way for the director to find the best placement for new singers in one of our chorus levels. Younger singers will be asked to echo rhythm and melodic patterns and sing a simple song. Older singers may be asked to read music as well. Singers coming in to Concert, Chamber, and Teen Ensemble will be asked to sing a song of their choice and sight-read.

+ Since this is a secular chorus, why do the children sometimes perform liturgical or sacred music? Do you have any affiliation with the churches in which you rehearse and sing?

Our music is selected from the broadest possible range of quality compositions. Historically some of the finest choral music was written for religious purposes. Pieces are selected for their musical qualities, rather than for any liturgical message, and they reflect no faith tradition. We rehearse and often perform in churches as they are well suited to our practical and acoustical requirements.

+ Does Vivace offer scholarships?

Yes, Vivace Youth Chorus does offer need-based scholarships for all our programs. Applicants are required to submit our one page application at least 2 weeks prior to class, along with an application fee, and copy of their most recent tax return. Please call the office at 408-885-1746 for details.