In the first of our Getting to Know… series, we chat with Sue Ross, a local mum and business owner. We learn more about how Choirs4kids got started, the benefits of singing for kids and what’s coming up in 2020.

Hi, Sue. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what life was like before Choirs4kids?

Sue Ross Choirs4kids Director

I am a happily married local mum of one girl plus two fur baby dogs! My career in music spans 30+ years with full training on piano, voice, flute and violin for over 20 years to a high level. 

My teaching journey started 25 years ago when I became a primary school teacher. I taught general subjects and specialised in Music and Sport across many schools in the UK. After 10 years teaching there, my husband and I moved to Australia to live – better weather after the grey, grey and grey!! (you’ll understand if you are from there too!) 

I taught in a number of schools here for another 10 years and then asked myself whether I was going to do it for another 20+. I couldn’t see it! I was also mum to a then 4 year old who loved music and singing, like many of them do. Anyway, for a number of reasons I gave up my teaching role in a school and started to replan my life.

What inspired you to start Choirs4kids? What’s it all about?

I was at a friend’s party when it dawned on me what I needed to do – I needed to create a safe space for my daughter to sing, to experiment with her voice, to make new friends outside of school, to be free to explore musically the things she did naturally. So Choirs4kids was born VERY quickly! 

Choirs4kids community event

We started in Rockingham area back in 2016 with just one or two kids. Quickly our classes grew as more and more families realised that their children were not singing at school or couldn’t be part of the school choir for so many varied reasons. We now have 4 locations across Perth (locally Kadidjiny Park Hall in Melville) with three different age groups: Singing Joeys for ages 4-6, Singing Roos for ages 7-11, Vivid Stars for ages 10-16.  

What do we do? We provide a space for the kids to learn how to use their voices without fear of ridicule or fear of having to have a ‘perfect’ voice. We develop their confidence through connection games, team games and other specialised Choirs4kids activities. We offer performances in the community when the children are ready and also add no pressure to perform. Performance when a child is NOT ready can affect them for life and continue their fear further. We work hard to include them in the performance and often have those more fearful ones helping with directing or standing with me in the ‘safe’ space.

What have you found to be the benefits of singing for kids?

The benefits are numerous and widely known of course but for me singing has helped so many of the children who have come through the Choirs4kids doors to become more confident in their daily and school life. Children can now stand up in the class for weekly news or presentations as we develop the skills not just for singing but ‘performing’ as a whole. We have had many parents say how singing has helped their child’s reading and readiness to read. Their maths also is improved as they learn to use counting for rests and missing words etc. They are generally more healthy as the studies show that singing boosts the immune system. They also make great new like-minded friends.

So, what’s next for Choirs4kids?

2020 for Choirs4kids is already being booked up!  We have community events in February-March, and we also have our performance group starting mid-year ready to sing at the One Big Voice festival at the Perth Arena with other school kids across Perth.

We do pop up shopping centre singing and plan our family catch-ups once a term so that parents also get to connect with other families. Over the coming weeks in December we have the Rockingham Parade 7th Dec, Waikiki shopping centre 14th Dec, Joondalup Growers Market and Make Music Day event 21st Dec along with singing in Bull Creek Shopping Centre Thurs 12th Dec. 

We do have a Choirs4kids summer Workshop planned for 15th January too. This is an all day workshop where you can drop your child with us for a full day of musical activities at Kadidjiny Park Hall.

As a local yourself, what are some of your favourite places or things to do in the area?

I love living here. It’s a great place to bring up a family and there are so many opportunities around for the kids. Sometimes there are too many opportunities of course too!

As a family we love Freo beaches!

Do you have any advice for mums looking to start their own business?

Have an idea to start your own business? My advice is probably less complicated than some – I had the idea, found the venue and booked in and then worked everything else out from there! Basically, what have you got to lose? Give it a go and, like us, you might just find it becomes your dream!

You can stay up-to-date with all things Choirs4kids via their website or Facebook page. Sue is offering trial classes so you and your child can see what Choirs4kids is all about.

As well as running Choirs4kids, Sue also directs her adult community choirs VividVoices so if you love to sing, head to the VividVoices website for all the details.

Melville Mums
Author: Melville Mums