thanks to the 2014-15 students and families for a wonderful summerfest concert this past june!

A few smiles from Concert Choir at the Bija Summerfest Concert at Ives Park, June 7, 2015

A few smiles from Concert Choir at the Bija Summerfest Concert at Ives Park, June 7, 2015

Interested in our first annual BIJA CHOIR SUMMER WORLD MUSIC CAMP in August?  In a fun, casual setting at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, students play rhythm and movement games, learn songs from different world traditions & choreographies with props, create artistic instruments, have outdoor time, and enjoy fun surprises throughout the week.  It's a great way to boost skills for those wishing to move up from Preparatory Choir into Concert Choir in the fall, or for just any young person who loves to sing.  (And yes, it's fine for 11 year olds to attend, too!)

To register for  the August 10-14 camp, click HERE

summer music camp flyer



The Bija Junior Choir classes meet on Tuesdays from 4-4:45pm and Thursdays 2:30-3:15pm at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, and are open to ages 5-6 without audition, offering an introduction to the choral setting through the full body approach of Dalcroze Eurhythmics.  Junior Choir students perform for their families at the end of each session, and the emphasis is on developing music listening skills, introducing students to basic elements of music theory through movement, and cultivating a joy for singing in ensemble. 

The Bija Preparatory Choirs are open to ages 7-11 without audition, and introduces children to basic choral concepts of solfege singing, multicultural repertoire, simple rhythmic dance choreographies, and developing a beautiful unison sound.   Preparatory Choir students perform for their families at the end of each session and occasionally join the Concert Choir in community performances.  Rehearsals are Thursdays 3:30-4:15pm at the Sebastopol Ctr for the Arts.

The Bija Concert Choir is open to ages 8-12 by audition or invitation, and works with multicultural repertoire in two and three part harmonies, as well as movement choreographies and rhythmic percussion accompaniment.  Theory principles such as meter, phrase, notation, and form are taught through the  movement principles of Dalcroze Eurhythmics.  Concert Choir students perform in annual Story Concerts each Spring and collaborate from guest artists from the Bay Area, as well as perform for various other local community events. Rehearsals are Thursdays 4:30-5:15pm at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.  Please email mariabija@gmail.com for questions about placement.

The Bija Treble Choir is for ages 11-18 by audition or invitation, performing classic choral and world music arrangements for community benefit events and special projects.  Studio recordings and travel tours are also in the forecast for future seasons.   Rehearsals are Wednesdays at 4pm at a private studio in central Sebastopol.


 To register for Bija Children's Choir classes, click here.  



100923-0210. crop.2 small.jpg

Maria Bija is a classically-trained musician with a passion for world music and dance.  Born in Boston, MA to an Italian mother and English American father-- both very musical parents with great rhythm and perfect sense of pitch and harmony, Maria began singing at her earliest age and showed natural abilities at the piano.  For eight formative years she studied with Polish concert pianist, Ronald Kmiec of Carlisle, Massachusetts.  

By her teenage years, Maria began her vocal career, recording commercial jingles and singing popular, jazz, country, and folk styles, with her major influences at the time including Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bonnie Raitt.  Later in her college years, Maria studied abroad in Italy, India, Ghana, and Brazil, and sang with a samba band in Boston, paving the way to her lifelong love of Brazilian music.

Maria earned her Master's of Music degree in Dalcroze Eurhythmics in 1997 under the tutelage of Lisa Parker, and has since incorporated Dalcroze movement-based teaching principles in her music classes for all ages and levels of ability.  Understanding the crucial role of movement in teaching/learning music, she honors the belief that the first instrument is the body.

Over the past decades, Maria has recorded numerous albums, one of which won a Parents Choice Award ("World Family Folk Celebration", available on CDBaby) and another went under contract with Challenge Records of the Netherlands (Blue Brazil: Gema).  As a mother of two, she created the Musical Mothering program for young families in Napa Valley, and world music ensembles such as Twin Souls, Blue Brazil, and recently a trio project in the greater SF Bay area.  She is the founder and Artistic Director of the Bija Children's Choir nonprofit organization in Sonoma County.  Maria plans to travel abroad once again in the coming years and collaborate with musicians internationally, while at the same time continues to nurture her home community in Sebastopol, promoting local sustainability in the way she creatively and thoughtfully leads her life in the performing arts.



Colleen Toner-Rogers, Class Assistant

Colleen Toner-Rogers is the Bija Children's Choir's Class Assistant.  Outside of class, she directs of the West County Music Together program, and has many years of experience with children and music, in addition to performing with the women's vocal ensemble, Kindred Voices.  She assists in the Bija Preparatory Choir class as an extra set of hands, and a contact person for parents at drop-off/pick-up.  She also leads the alto section of the Concert Choir classes, assisting in the development of harmony skills.