Camp unites kids with a passion for singing

Jul 13, 2018

For Emma Zhou, singing runs in the family.

The 12-year-old Marion resident and daughter of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth music professor Tianxu Zhou can’t quite remember when she discovered her singing voice, but she’s getting a chance to develop it alongside her father at the South Coast Children’s Chorus’ Summer SING Camp.

The camp, held from July 9 to 13 at UMass Dartmouth, is now in its second year, explained Tianxu, who also serves as the organization’s director. Established last year as a summer program to supplement the Marion-based organization's September-May regular season schedule, it has now grown this year to 22 budding singers.

Throughout the five-day camp, kids work together in preparatory and advanced groups to produce a full-scale choral concert, featuring everything from Remember Me from the recent Disney hit Coco to international contemporary choral tunes written especially for kids.

Among the top picks for Dartmouth’s Brooke Lajeunesse, 10, was This is Me from The Greatest Showman. The Potter Elementary student also performs in the school’s chorus.

“We work with pieces that are challenging, fun, and enjoyable for the kids,” Zhou said. “We teach them balance, rhythm, harmony… they’re all doing very well.”

Emma Zhou joined the South Coast Children’s Chorus last year after her father took over as its director. On the second to last day of the program and just hours before the group’s culminating concert in New Bedford as part of the city’s AHA! Night festivities, she was impressed with the camaraderie spending a week with people as passionate about music as she is.

“It’s just real powerful to be singing with this group, where everyone is here because they love singing,” Zhou said. “They’re here because they want to put a week of their summer into singing.”

Eli Haymaker, 12, of Mattapoisett, found his love of singing through video games and game-themed music. The camp provided him an outlet to sing that wasn’t just at his or a friend’s house.