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 Children's Choir mission of sowing and nurturing seeds of artistry among the youth in our local community and beyond.
ABOUT CLASSES OFFERED
THE BIJA CHILDREN'S CHOIR was founded by Maria Bija in 2007 to celebrate the rich cultural traditions of the world by bringing quality multicultural repertoire to students and audiences in West Sonoma County, California. The Bija Children's Choir offers artistic music education while building community, and provides a vibrant 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 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. Classes 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.
The Bija Concert Choir is open to ages 8-14 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 Thursday afternoons at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Please email email@example.com for questions about 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 world, popular, and indie music for community benefit events. Rehearsals are Thursdays 5:15-6pm at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Sol Choir members 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.
ABOUT FOUNDING & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, MARIA BIJA
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.
OTHER TEACHERS IN 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 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.