Welcome!  The best way to learn about the Bija Children's Choir is to attend a performance, and our next one is coming up on THURSDAY DEC 4th at 5:45pm at the Sebastopol Tree Lighting Ceremony at the plaza across from Whole Foods.  We hope to see you there!


About The Bija Children's Choir

The Bija Children's Choir is a 501c3 Nonprofit Organization offering young people ages 5-18 the venue to develop their musical artistry and sense of community through multicultural choir classes and performances in Sonoma County, CA.   Performance venues include local community events, benefit shows, and our own unique Bija Cultural Story Concerts involving professional storytellers, dancers, and musicians who inspire all who love the arts.  Bija is a Sanskrit word meaning "seed of creation", which reflects the Bija Choir's mission of sowing and nurturing seeds of artistry among the youth in our local community and beyond. 


THE BIJA CHILDREN'S CHOIR was founded by Maria Bija in 2007 to celebrate folk and classic repertoire of the rich cultural traditions of the world.  The Bija Children's Choir offers artistic music education while building community, and provides a performance environment for young people who love to sing. 

There are four leveled choirs for children ages 5-18 to join:  

The Bija Junior Choir is open to ages 5-6 without audition, and offers a choral introduction 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.  Rehearsals are Thursday afternoons at the Sebastopol Ctr for the Arts.

The Bija Preparatory Choirs are open to ages 7-12 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 Thursday afternoons at the Sebastopol Ctr for the Arts and Wednesday afternoons at Monroe Hall in Santa Rosa.

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 playful movement principles of Dalcroze Eurhythmics.  Concert Choir students perform in annual Story Concerts each Spring, as well as various other local community events. Rehearsals are Thursdays 4:15-5pm at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.  Please email mariabija@gmail.com for questions on placement.

The Sol Choir  is the Bija Children's Choir Teen Vocal Ensemble for ages 13-18 by audition or invitation, performing arrangements of select popular, indie and world music for community benefit events.  Rehearsals are Mondays 4:30-5:15pm at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts and Wednesdays 4:30-5:15pm at Monroe Hall in Santa Rosa.  Teens also have opportunities to mentor the younger Concert Choir students by helping out at performances or during rehearsals, for which volunteer credit hours are awarded.

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



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Maria Bija was 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, though untrained.  They sang in harmony with Maria as soon as she could talk, and after watching her pick out tunes on the piano at age three, signed her up for piano lessons with Polish concert pianist, Ronald Kmiec of Carlisle, Massachusetts by age five.  Maria studied with Kmiec until age twelve.

By her teenage years, Maria began recording commercial jingles and singing pop, jazz, country, and folk styles, with her major influences being Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bonnie Raitt, among others.  Later in her college years, Maria studied abroad in Italy, India, Ghana, and Brazil, and began singing 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 and rhythm as well as self-reflection in process of teaching/learning music, her studio motto has become, "Whatever you play, the first instrument is you."

Over the past decades, Maria has created the Musical Mothering program for young families in Napa Valley, world music ensembles such as Twin Souls, Blue Brazil, and recently Abrazu, a small Brazilian ensemble in the greater SF Bay area, and is founder and Artistic Director of the Bija Children's Choir nonprofit organization in Sonoma County.  She aspires to travel abroad once again and collaborate with musicians internationally, while at the same time continues to nurture her home community of Sebastopol, promoting local sustainability in the way she creatively and thoughtfully leads The Bija Children's Choir.



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 Bija Preparatory class as an extra set of hands as kids needs help, 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 developing of harmony skills.