WELCOME to the Bija Children's Choir, a 501c3 nonprofit program deeply dedicated to educating and inspiring young people who love to sing, as well as enriching the community through quality multicultural performances. Bija is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning seed of creation, which represents the Bija Choir's mission of sowing seeds of musical capability, confidence, and creativity among Sonoma County's youth.
BECOME A FRIEND by attending our concerts, referring us to others, or sponsoring a need by clicking the DONATE button. Heartfelt thanks for your support! Our mid-season classes begin Wed Jan 13th & Thursday Jan 14th at the schedule below.
THE 2015-16 SEASON meets at the following CLASS SCHEDULE:
Mondays 4:30-5:15pm World Percussion Ensemble with Kim Atkinson (NEW CLASS!)
Wednesdays 5:15-6:15pm Treble Choir
Thursdays 2:30-3:15pm Junior Rhythmics Choir
3:30-4:15pm Preparatory Choir
4:30-5:30pm Concert Choir
Monday and Thursday classes are held at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 South High St. Wednesday Treble Choir is at a Private Studio in central Sebastopol. Students may enter beginner level classes at the start of September, January or April. Auditioned choirs are a full-season commitment and mid-season acceptance is at the discretion of the director.
ABOUT THE BIJA CHILDREN'S CHOIR CLASSES
Classes meet weekly, leveled by age and ability:
The Bija Junior Choir classes are open to ages 5-6 without audition, offering an introduction to choir 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.
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.
The Bija Treble Choir is a chorus run privately by Maria Bija for older girls and women by audition or invitation, performing advanced-intermediate classic choral and world music arrangements for community benefit events and special projects. Music theory through Dalcroze Eurhythmics and Solfege are incorporated into rehearsals, and studio recordings and travel tours are also in the forecast for future seasons.
The Bija World Percussion Ensemble is a brand new class on the horizon. Students learn to play polyrhythms using hand and stick techniques on a variety of world percussion instruments including different kinds of drums, rattles, bells, and other idiophones. Open to middle through high school ages with a strong sense of rhythm, students are encouraged to bring their own drums to class when possible. The Bija World Percussion Ensemble is designed to perform alongside of the Bija Choirs at recitals, concerts and other special events.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about placement in Concert and Treble Choirs.
To pre-register for the next session of 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 professional vocal career, recording corporate commercial jingles and singing jazz, r&b, 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 samba bands 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 new performance project 'ABRAZU'. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the Bija Children's Choir 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 classes as needed, handles registration and concert-time matters. She also works with sections of the Concert & Treble Choir classes, assisting in the development of harmony skills.