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Seattle Girls’ Choir Placement Auditions: Commonly Asked Questions, Answered!


Dolcine (The Sweet Ones) 1st & 2nd grade, performing at Town Hall, Sarra Sharif, Director

On January 26th, Seattle Girls’ Choir is holding our Winter Placement auditions for girls in grades 1-12, for a February start in choir culminating in our Spring concert celebrating our 30th Anniversary on June 15, 2013 at Town Hall, Seattle.  To schedule an audition, call 206-526-1900 and download the audition packet  from our website.

Here are some of the most common questions we get from prospective families about auditions, as well as our many programs including costs:

How do we prepare for our placement audition, and what should we expect?

The auditions are first and foremost low key and friendly. Parents join their daughter in the tryout with Artistic Director Jake Winkler and Aimee Mell, conductor of Allegra (4th-6th grade choir). We start out with a few questions about your daughter’s musical interests and experience, taking some time to get to know your family. When she is ready, she can sing for us the song she prepared. This can be anything from a musical, a folk song, a song from a movie, or something she learned at school. We prefer not to hear “pop” or “rock” songs, not because we don’t like pop music, but because they often have a lower range for young girls, and a more restricted overall range so we can’t hear as much of her voice. After that we will check her range (how high and low she sings), and ask her to sing My Country ‘Tis of Thee. If she doesn’t know that, we select Happy Birthday or another familiar song instead. This will be followed by some exercises so we can check how well she matches a pitch on the piano with her voice. These exercises will increase in complexity, helping us to get a sense of her ear for music. For girls in 5th grade and up, they may also be asked to look at some music and sing the notes, or clap some rhythms. For girls in 7th grade and up, these sight reading exercises will be more advanced and will play a larger role in the overall placement of your daughter in the group.


Prime Voci (First Voices), our most advanced ensemble performing in Germany and The Czech Republic, 2012.

Is my daughter ready for choir?

With the youngest girls, the main things we look for are: 1. Her ability to sing in front of others. Sometimes the youngest girls are too shy, and reluctant to sing in the audition. When this happens, we will give her a little time to become comfortable, or try some fun ways to get her to sing, like having her sing with Aimee, our Allegra conductor. If she still doesn’t want to sing, we will often recommend that she comes back in six months so that the overall experience is a positive one. 2. Her ability to match pitch throughout her range. In order to add to the choir, it is important that she be able to match pitch. If she is having a hard time matching the piano, we will often move to having her match our voices, to which some girls are more responsive. If she can’t effectively match pitch, it doesn’t mean that she won’t be able to (we often hear the term tone deaf, which is actually extremely rare, and almost everyone can learn to sing and match pitch if they practice!) If she does not match pitch during the audition, we will often recommend that she join our MUSICAL ME ! class which focuses on singing, that she work on matching pitch with a piano teacher, music teacher at school or voice teacher, that she sign up for one of our Summer Music Day Camps, and that she re-audition in six months.

What will my first or second grader learn in choir?

Dolcine, which meets for 1.5 hours on Tuesdays is our youngest choir. Under the direction of SGC Alumna and certified music educator Sarra Sharif,  choir girls learn how to breathe, place their sound, create vowels, blend their voices, project and watch the director. They are also immediately introduced to reading music using solfège (do, re, mi) as well as learning rhythms. Time is taken in every rehearsal to focus on music fundamentals and literacy. The choir performs on stage at Town Hall in front of over 800 audience members, as well as two smaller performances each year.

Vivi Dec2011

Vivissimi (Very Lively Ones), Primarily 3rd and 4th Grade

How do you “place” girls?

In our youngest two choirs, girls are generally placed by age as we build skills and music literacy. After 4th grade musical ability, singing experience, and music skills come more into play. Allegra, generally 5th and 6th grade sometimes has 7th and even 8th graders. Cantamus, generally 7th-8th graders sometimes has 6th and 9th graders. Prime Voci, typically is made up of all high school women 9th-12th or 10th-12th grades. Entering at the upper two levels requires some musical literacy and vocal training if a girl has not moved through the SGC choir system.


Dolcine learning about posture and breathing

What makes Seattle Girls’ Choir unique?

OVERNIGHT CAMP: Starting in 5th grade, the top three choirs spend a week each summer at Ft. Flagler on the Olympic Peninsula as the start of our instructional year. A fun-filled time of singing, electives, talent shows, kite-flying, crafts, camp fires, echo-singing in the WWII bunkers, shopping in Port Townsend and beach walks. Any SGC Alumna will tell you that camp is a favorite childhood memory, and many come back to help out even after graduating! At camp, girls begin to develop deep and lasting friendships that will last throughout their lives. It also begins preparing our girls to work and live together as they start looking towards tours and festivals all over the world.

THEORY INSTRUCTION: Seattle Girls’ Choir is a place for girls who truly love to sing. We start teaching musical literacy at our youngest levels, introducing weekly written and aural theory training in grade 3. Vivissimi (3-4) and Allegra (5-6) have 30 minutes of time dedicated to developing listening skills, sight reading and rhythm practice. Written theory covers the basics and more so girls can become musically independent in their own right. Cantamus (7-8) and Prime Voci (9-12) have one hour weekly of written and aural theory, as well as specifically designed online programs designed so they can work at home independently building and refining their skills.

DEDICATION TO EXCELLENCE: Seattle Girls’ Choir is more than an after school activity. We are a choral music academy for girls who love music and who want to make music a significant part of their lives. Our upper choirs practice 4-5 hours a week to prepare for tours, radio performances, collaborations with other Seattle arts organizations, or CD recordings. Even though girls may not go into music as a profession, we teach them what it takes to be professional musicians. Preparation, skill, knowledge and dedication that will serve them in anything they choose to do.

“I grew up in this environment and it has made me who I am today. I am a confident, independent young woman
who is not afraid to voice her opinion because I learned how to speak for myself and be confident as a woman
through choir. I have been empowered by Seattle Girls’ Choir to follow my dreams and heart no matter where they
take me.” – SGC Alumna


     Crazy Choir Relays, Overnight Camp


         Crafts, Overnight Camp


             Team building, Overnight Camp


Handbell Elective, Overnight Camp

Where does Seattle Girls’ Choir perform?

Seattle Girls’ Choir performs throughout Seattle, offering two All Choir concerts per year, typically at Town Hall, Seattle. Our most advanced group, Prime Voci often collaborates with other area organizations and professional musicians. Most recently they performed with Seattle Pro Musica, Simple Measures Chamber Music, Seattle Youth Symphony, Choral Arts, and the Seattle Choral Company. They have also offered their own music series Carmina Angelorum, and have recently released a CD of the same name. Seattle Girls’ Choir is often heard on KING FM and recently performed live on Northwest Focus. Our top two choirs offer a seasonal Lessons & Carols each year, recenly raising funds for King County Toys for Tots. Seattle audiences also know our choirs from our performances on the Argosy Christmas Ships grand finale parade each year. See the Video

Our younger choirs perform throughout the community at venues such as: The Make-A-Wish Foundation Santa Brunch, Seattle Center House, Seattle Aquarium, O’Christmas Trees Family Fair, Warm Beach Lights of Christmas, Seattle Symphony Discover Music Concerts, Pacific Place,  nursing homes, private events, and more.

Does Seattle Girls’ Choir travel?

Yes! Prime Voci travels (sometimes competing) on average every three years, typically to international destinations. We just completed our 10th European Tour in the summer of 2012. In our ten tours, we have visited: Norway, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, France, England, Scotland, Wales, and Slovakia.  Click here for a list of tours and international competitions.

Other groups travel as well. Cantamus (7-8) will be making their 4th trip to the Pacific International Children’s Choral Festival, a week long non-competitive event in Eugene, OR. Allegra (4-5) and Cantamus have both participated in the Ft. Worden Children’s Choral Festival, and SGC regularly hosts and shares concerts with other choirs that are traveling in our area, most recently the Piedmont Eastbay Children’s Choir.


Cantamus at the Pacific International Children’s Choral Festival, Eugene, OR

Can we afford Seattle Girls’ Choir?

In an effort to be as accessible as possible to potential singers, we have waived our audition fee (previously $25). So auditioning and meeting us in person won’t cost you a thing! We also offer need-based financial aid to girls who are accepted into the program, sometimes paying up to 60% as we are able.

Dolcine & Vivissimi (1.5-2 hours of instruction weekly) $104-$124 a month for 10 months ($14-$17 an hour) With private voice lessons in Seattle running $60-$70 an hour, this is the most affordable way to get your daughter started with singing!

Allegra, (4 hours of instruction a week) $156 a month for 12 months AND the price includes the cost of a full week of overnight sleep away camp. This puts the cost of instruction alone at only $10/hour!

Cantamus (5 hours of instruction a week)  $176.80 a month for 12 months comes out to  $9.5 an hour, and the cost includes a full week of overnight sleep away camp.

Prime Voci (5 hours of instruction a month, plus extra rehearsals and performances)  $187.25 a month for 12 months including a full week of overnight sleep away camp, comes out to just $9 an hour for a top notch musical experience!

Whether your daughter wants to sing classical, Broadway, pop or jazz, Seattle Girls’ Choir will provide her with the skills and ability to enjoy singing and making music throughout her life. We hope you will contact us with any questions you have about our programs as a fit for your daughter.



Allegra Cropped

Members of Allegra (The happy ones)