YouthSounds Northwest FAQs

Interested in finding out if YouthSounds Northwest is right for you? Here are the answers to some common questions.

Who are we?

YouthSounds Northwest (YSN) is a community chorus based in Burien, one of five ensembles of Northwest Associated Arts (NWAA), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing choral and artistic experiences to members of all ages and abilities from grade four through adulthood, providing an environment for personal growth, professional performances, and community spirit. If you are looking for a place for your child to sing that will challenge him/her while providing fun and fellowship, YSN might just be the chorus! YSN, an auditioned mixed-voice community chorus of approximately 25 singers, welcomes singers in grades 4-high school.

What types of music does YSN sing?

YSN performs an eclectic variety of music, including sacred literature, secular choral pieces, spirituals, world music and show tunes. The focus of the chorus is on developing choral technique that is appropriate for younger voices and presenting polished and engaging performances.

How often does YSN perform?

The typical season features two mainstage concerts per year. The first is our ChristmaSounds concert in mid-December which includes all the choirs in the Northwest Associated Arts (NWAA) organization, and a spring concert in mid-May. Additionally, NWAA holds a Cabaret/auction fundraiser in mid-February. The Cabaret is normally the Saturday night nearest Valentine’s Day and features sit-down dinner, silent auction, and live entertainment provided by the singers of NWAA.

Where does YSN perform?

The ChristmaSounds Concert is held at Highline Performing Arts Center (401 S 152nd St, Burien). Our Spring Is In the Air Concert in mid-May is performed at Glendale Lutheran Church (13455 2nd Avenue SW, Burien). This concert also offers singers the opportunity to offer solos, both vocal and instrumental.

Do members need to have trained voices and the ability to sight-read music?

Because our primary focus is giving students an opportunity to explore and hone their vocal skills, no prior knowledge is necessary. At the audition/interview, the Director, will assess strengths and areas of growth so that each singer is able to be successful both individually and as a member of the chorus.

Some of our singers are excellent sight-readers while many others learn by ear. The ability to read music is desired but not required. Some chorus members have no previous experience and some have extensive musical training. Other members are somewhere in between. Practice tracks are provided for chorus members to practice on their own in between Tuesday rehearsals.

When are rehearsals?

The chorus rehearses Tuesday afternoons, 4:15-5:30 pm in the music room at North HIll Elementary in Des Moines on 8th Ave, starting in early September. Additionally, there is usually one all-day Saturday rehearsal/retreat during the preparation cycle for each concert. Singers are typically required to be at the theater for technical and dress rehearsals multiple times the week before each show opens.

Detailed schedules are published in the rehearsal and performance calendar which is distributed at the beginning of each show cycle.

What are the costs?

Annual membership dues are $250 per year. Payments may be paid at the beginning of the year in a single payment, or 2 payments: one in September and one in January. For those who may need it, NWAA offers full and partial scholarships.

We ask that every singer pay whatever they can afford in dues, but we never want anyone excluded due to the cost of membership. If you need help with your dues, contact Paul Bauer, General Manager at 206.246.6040; he will handle this request confidentially. When filling out your dues payment form, those who are able and want to help ensure that every voice is heard have the option of contributing toward the scholarship fund.

There is a volunteer component to each singer participating in the choir. We ask that each family contribute 2-4 hours of volunteer time per year. This could include helping with rehearsals, offering to bring snacks for the few longer rehearsals, helping out with concerts, and intentionally spreading the word about our program.

What do we wear?

We have a formal and an informal uniform.

FORMAL: Boys: black dress pants and black button-up shirt; black socks and black dress shoes. A silver tie is provided. Girls: black uniform dress that is ordered in the first weeks of rehearsal. The cost is approximately $65. Girls also wear black ballet flats and no stockings. For all singers: all hair should be off the face for performances, and we discourage brightly dyed hair, particularly because of the lighting on stage. Modest jewelry.

INFORMAL: Our black YouthSounds t-shirt that we provide for each singer and blue jeans and casual shoes. We usually wear this for tech week performances and any community performances we may be invited to do. For rehearsals, come as you are!

What are my responsibilities?

YSN continues to grow and flourish through the commitment and dedication of its singers, family, and friends. We are a friendly, active, inclusive community. To get the most out of your experience and to contribute to the well-being of the group, we ask the following of our singers:

Be on time. Having everyone in place and ready to rehearse promptly at the scheduled start time makes a big difference. If you are absent, please let the Artistic Director and/or the Administrative Assistant know as soon as possible.  We take your child’s safety very seriously so we want to know where everyone is for rehearsals.

Come to rehearsals consistently. Our development as an ensemble and the morale of our organization depend upon the timely and regular attendance of all singers. Choir members with four absences per term may be asked to meet with the Artistic Director to demonstrate their knowledge of the music in order to perform in the concert.

Attendance at all performances in a term is expected. Exceptions must be approved by the Artistic Director.

Care for your music. Put your music into the provided choir folder. Be sure to bring a pencil to mark your music with notes from the Director, or to indicate areas needing further practice. Digital copies of the hardcopy sheet music may be made available on the password-protected website.

Practice at home. Most of our singers find they need to spend independent time rehearsing their music in between rehearsals. Practice tracks are made available for download from the password protected choir website. The rehearsal schedule will give specifics on which pieces will be practiced at each rehearsal.

No scents please. We have singers who are very allergic or sensitive to any kind of scent. We ask that you refrain from using perfume/cologne or strongly-scented personal products when coming to rehearsal or during a performance.

Get involved. We are a non-profit, volunteer-run organization. There are numerous ways to participate, such as hanging concert posters, setting up for refreshment time, procuring or donating items for the annual auction, or serving on the NWAA Board, to name a few. Many hands make light work!

Promote performances. Spread the good word about YSN through social media, email, and word of mouth; sell tickets to your friends and family!

Check your email regularly. Most of our communication with our singers, apart from that at rehearsal, is conducted via regular emails. If you are not receiving our emails, please double check your spam/junk folder and let the Artistic Director or Assistant know.

Who supports YSN?

Member dues, governmental and corporate grants, and individual fundraising helps to cover the administrative expenses and cost of producing concerts.

How do I get answers to my questions?

The Northwest Associated Arts website (www.nwassociatedarts.org) is a great resource. Look there first to find the answers to most questions. In addition, a members-only area of the site is accessible through the “contact us” page, which current information about schedules, a membership roster, copies of newsletters, downloadable rehearsal tracks, etc. Login information for this private area of the site is distributed to singers and their families. Singers’ parents are always welcome to come to Northwest Associated Arts Board meetings, or to contact the Board with questions at info@nwassociatedarts.org. YSN also has a social media presence on Facebook at @NWAA Youth Choirs. and organization-wide information can be found on the main NWAA Facebook page.

How do I join?

Interview/Auditions are scheduled by appointment throughout the year with Artistic Director, Forrest Leder. Excerpts of prepared pieces (with or without accompaniment) are welcome, but not required. The audition will be in a private session with Forrest, who will check the singer’s vocal range for placing each voice in the appropriate section of the choir. A quick meeting with the parent will take place after that rehearsal. To schedule an audition, contact Forrest directly at leder.forrest@gmail.com.

We hope you have found all you are looking for in this document. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to call us at 206.246.6040 or email us at info@nwassociatedarts.org. We look forward to meeting you and singing together!

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