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December 12, 2003 - Image 44

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-12-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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In The State
tate o. .n,..epen_ence,
Inde pen (- d 1 ence,
p portunities are Around Every CORNER.

p leTree

SING from page 43

Touching People

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It all began with a chance conversa-
tion. Kathy Lowenthal and Cantor
Corrsin are neighbors, and they were
talking one day, and the idea of creat-
ing a Friday-evening children's choir at
the temple came up. Lowenthal, a
part-time teacher in the Southfield
school district, has a long history of
working with children's choirs.
"I'm the Pied Piper of children," she
says, laughing.
Previously, Lowenthal has done
everything from coordinating B'nai
B'rith Youth Organization sing-alongs
to taking huge groups of students to
perform at benefit concerts for the
homeless. "I'm used to handling mass
numbers of kids."
Lowenthal loves children, but as the
mother of four, she also brought a par-
ent's perspective. In organizing a choir,
she wasn't interested in impossibly
long rehearsals six days a week.
"My goal was to have something
that children loved, and had them lov-
ing Jewish music, but not anything so
demanding that parents were running
from it," Lowenthal says.
The response to her plan was so
tremendous that two children's choirs
were created. The first is a third-grade
group, which performs three times a
year, what Lowenthal calls a "training
choir." The other choir is for fourth-,
fifth- and sixth-graders, which sings
five times a year and on Friday nights.
Altogether, that's 115 children.
So how did so many children join
— and so quickly?
That first year, 40 students signed
up. They came, they sang, they talked
to their friends. Word of mouth is all
that accounts for the choir more than
doubling in one year.

The choir is not attracting just chil-
dren. The Shabbat Singers has meant
increased participation from family, as
well. Those moms and dads and
grandparents who might otherwise not
have attended a Friday-night service
are now there to see their children and
grandchildren sing.
"We're touching people in a differ-
ent way," Lowenthal says.
"It's a fun thing to do," she adds.
"It's a minimal commitment. The edu-
cational director, Fran Pearlman,
encouraged it, and made it so that we
could rehearse during Sunday school
times. And the rabbis are all for it;
they think it's the coolest thing since
sliced bread."
Which is not to say it's just a casual
affair. While Lowenthal is well known
for cracking jokes during rehearsal, .
some aspects of concert participation
are anything but lighthearted.
Lowenthal sticks to the rules; "kids
want them and parents want them,"
she says.
So in addition to singing, she'll take
time to speak about proper dress when
performing at the Temple, or how to
behave when the rabbi is speaking.
"Remember," she reminds the chil-
dren: "You're walking into a [religious]
service."
What the children should not be
thinking about: whether they're the
next Placido Domingo. You do not,
repeat do not, have to have a good
voice to be part of the Shabbat
Singers.
"I don't care if the kids can sing or
not," Lowenthal says. "This is not
about whether you can sing. It's about
having a fun experience.
"What's good about the choir is that
all the kids walk into a situation where
just by being there they're successful.
They walk away feeling good about
having participated. What other activi-
ty do you know of where a kid can
feel like a hero just for opening his
mouth and singing?" ❑

The Shabbat Singers will participate
in a pre-Chanukah service, with a
klezmer band, where they will sing
"Light One Candle," "Chanukah,
Oh Chanukah" and "TheFirst
Candle We Light On Chanukah" at
Temple Israel during congregational
Shabbat services tonight, Dec. 12,
at 7:30 p.m. The Chanukah sing-
along warm-up begins at 7:15.
Temple Israel is at 5725 Walnut
Lake Road in West Bloomfield.

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