A! Magazine for the Arts

Singing is therapeutic for children of all abilities

February 24, 2020

Mountain Empire Children’s Choral Academy’s goal is to enrich the lives of regional youth through vocal music education and the study and performance of choral literature. They have choirs in Johnson City and Emory for singers in grades one through three, two children’s choirs (grades four and up) and the Highlands Youth Ensemble, an advanced choir for grades nine through 12.

“Our choirs have always been open to all children who sing. And we have had numerous children over the years who look at the world and learn differently. We now know that these children have also received direct therapeutic benefits from singing in a choir regardless of ability, whether those abilities include reading with dyslexia, the autism spectrum, or any other experience that can sometimes make life more complicated.

“Now, the audience would probably never know we had made special adjustments for any of our singers. We had a wonderful singer for many years who was blind, and she never wanted to get any special recognition or attention. She had friends placed near her who could help her onto the stage and risers, but it was done in such a subtle way that most audience members never knew. Her parents would put lyrics into Braille to help her learn them. One semester I had her singing the middle part, but I realized it was easier for her to learn the top part from recordings, so I kept her on that part from then on.

“Singing in a choir is such a wonderful activity for young people, because no one ever sits on the bench, and each person’s part is equally important,” says Jane DeLoach Morrison, artistic director.

For more information, visit www.meccacademy.org.