Welcome to Cantus Youth Choirs! We are grateful to have you join the Cantus family. Because we are such a rapidly growing organization, we ask that you please read this Handbook carefully and use it as your primary resource throughout the season. The more you become familiar with and follow these policies, the better Cantus experience your child will have.
The mission of Cantus Youth Choirs is to provide quality music education with the goal of attaining the highest level of artistic excellence in choral music performance. The organization endeavors to enrich the lives of youth from all religious, racial, cultural, economic, and musical backgrounds. The program strives to foster the personal and social growth of its members and to promote their sense of self-worth, discipline, accomplishment and pride. Cantus Youth Choirs seeks to work collaboratively with the community at large to promote singing.
Membership in Cantus
Membership begins when a singer’s online registration is submitted and tuition is paid or authorized. Singers are assigned to an ensemble after these steps are complete. Every member is expected to remain active and committed to the program for the entire duration of his/her enrollment, which begins with rehearsals in September and concludes with the Finale concert, usually in April or May.
Each singer is expected to fulfill his/her commitment to participate in Cantus. If, however, an extremely unusual circumstance occurs which would prohibit a singer from honoring that commitment, a personal conference between the director and parents will be required before submitting a letter of resignation. Because a majority of the season’s expenses are paid before rehearsals begin, Cantus cannot issue any refunds and the family will still be responsible for any remaining tuition due.
Singers in the 3rd through 6th grades do not need to audition. Singers in the 8th through 12th grade audition for directors to make section placements within open-enrollment ensembles. No one is “cut;” your ensemble is determined by your grade in school.
- Singers will be placed in an ensemble based on grade, and will be placed in a section (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) based on a simple placement audition.
- Singers who wish to join one of our contemporary ensembles must already be enrolled in a traditional ensemble and will need to complete a more detailed audition.
- Specific details and instructions for auditioning are available at cantusyouthchoirs.com/submitaudition
All communication to Cantus families will be made via email, text (text message rates will apply), the Cantus website (check out the “Members” link at the top) and the Cantus Facebook page. We do not send notes home with singers.
- You MUST have an email account that you check on a weekly basis to participate in Cantus. All singers and families will be held accountable to the information sent in emails.
- Emails will be sent to the address you provide in your online registration. If you would like to receive emails at another account as well, please sign up now.
- If you are not receiving the emails, please check your spam/junk box and/or resubscribe at the Cantus website.
- Accidentally deleted something? Not to worry—every email we send out through the season is kept for reference and can be accessed at www.cantusyouthchoirs.com > Email Archives.
Please always refer to our website, handbook and emails for answers to your questions before contacting us. If you still need help, please use the Contact page to connect with us.
Elementary and Junior High Division (grades 3-9)
- Chorale. Grades 3-4. Focus: Development of healthy singing technique with unison to three-part treble music. Directed by Mrs. McCauley and Mrs. Paskett, Tuesdays from 5:30-6:45 pm.
- Concert Choir. Grades 5-6. Focus: Development of healthy singing technique as the adolescent voice expands, singing unison to four-part music written for treble and mixed voices. Directed by Mrs. Carroll, Tuesdays from 7:00-8:15 pm.
- Virtuoso Singers. Grades 7-9. Focus: Development of healthy singing technique through mixed choral repertoire, ranging from two- to eight-part music. Directed by Mrs. Cook, Tuesdays from 7:00-8:15 pm.
- Rhapsody. Grades 7-9. Focus: Development of healthy singing technique through contemporary choral music with accompaniment, ranging from two- to six-part music. Singers in this ensemble also participate in Virtuoso Singers as their primary ensemble. Co-directed by Mrs. Carroll and Mrs. Cook. There is a $35 additional participation fee to sing in this ensemble, Tuesdays from 5:45-6:45 pm.
High School Division (grades 10-12)
- Concordia. Grades 10-12. Focus: Development of healthy singing technique through advanced mixed choral repertoire, ranging from two- to sixteen-part music. Co-directed by Mr. and Mrs. McCauley, Tuesdays from 7:00-8:15 pm.
- Bella Visi. Grades 10-12. Focus: Development of healthy singing technique through advanced all-female contemporary choral music with or without accompaniment. Singers in Bella Visi also participate in Concordia as their primary ensemble. Directed by Mrs. Cook. Tuesdays from 8:15-9:30 pm. There is a $60 additional participation, music, and outfit rental fee to sing in this ensemble.
- Fortis. Grades 10-12. Focus: Development of healthy singing technique through advanced all-male contemporary choral music with or without accompaniment. Singers in Fortis also participate in Concordia as their primary ensemble. Directed by Mr. McCauley, Tuesdays from 6:00-7:00 pm. There is a $60 additional participation, music, and outfit rental fee to sing in this ensemble.
- VoiceOver. Grades 10-12. Focus: Development of advanced ear training, harmonic, rhythmic, contemporary vocal technique, and performing skills through advanced, popular a cappella music. This music is typically sung with beatboxing and choreography. Singers in VoiceOver also participate in Concordia as their primary ensemble. Co-directed by Mr. McCauley and Mrs. Roberts, Tuesdays from 6:00-7:00 and 8:15-9:30 pm. There is a $60 additional participation, music, and outfit rental fee to sing in this ensemble.
You can miss three rehearsals per semester. No questions asked!
All ensembles meet weekly on Tuesday nights. We rehearse at Tree City Church (3852 N. Eagle Road, Boise, ID 83713). Please see here for actual times and location.
All changes will be noted on the Cantus Calendar: cantusyouthchoirs.com/calendar
Retreats, Dress rehearsals and Performances will be visible on the Cantus Calendar (see below.)
All Cantus events will be added to the Cantus Calendar. This calendar can be found at cantusyouthchoirs.com > Members > Calendar (the EVENTS page is for the public). Members will be notified by email regarding any changes to the Cantus Calendar.
- Be There: Choir is a “team sport.” All rehearsals, retreats, dress rehearsals and performances are mandatory unless otherwise indicated on the Cantus Calendar. Be on time and be ready to sing when the rehearsal begins.
- Our attendance policy is very simple. You can miss 3 rehearsals per semester, not counting illness. You do not need to excuse these 3 extra absences, but budget wisely, so you do not exceed 3. Illnesses should be reported as soon as possible so they do not count against the 3 absence allotment. Absences are reported using the “Absence Request” link in the upper right hand corner of the website.
- Concerts, tech rehearsals, dress rehearsals and retreats are mandatory, and must be excused prior to the event.
- Any singer with more than 3 absences (that has not made prior arrangement by conference with Mrs. McCauley), will need to get special permission from the Artistic Director to be allowed to sing in the concert.
You can do other activities and sing in Cantus
We know Cantus kids tend to do everything. We support that. Please just plan well in advance for conflicts with other activities (at the beginning of a season or semester), communicate between the Choir Coordinator and the coach/teacher/director with the conflicting schedule, and work to give fair effort to both the conflicting activity and Cantus. We have had many singers successfully negotiate incredibly demanding schedules while singing in Cantus. If you have a recurring conflict that will last for more than a few weeks, please submit an Absence Request, before registering for Cantus or participating in the activity.
Youth and Parent Behavior Expectations
The Basics for Singers
- No cell phones, iPods, or devices in rehearsal unless prior approval has been granted by the director(s). If singers bring cell phones to rehearsal, they will be turned in at the front of the room before rehearsal and picked up by the singer at the end of rehearsal.
- Always bring your music, a pencil and water bottle to rehearsals. No gum.
- Arrive on time and be ready to sing when the rehearsal begins.
- Be quiet and respectful in the lobby. Do not roam about the building or outside the building at any time.
- Wear clothing that is modest and appropriate, following typical school district guidelines.
- Don’t run, yell, or be disrespectful to adults, colleagues or Cantus equipment.
- If you see something, say something. We expect all Cantus singers to help us create a positive, safe environment.
The Basics for Parents
- Be prompt to drop off and pick up your singer.
- Due to limited rehearsal space, parents and community members are generally only welcome to observe rehearsals by invitation of the choir director.
- Because directors must prepare for rehearsal, they are unavailable to talk to parents before/during/after rehearsal on Tuesdays. For Tuesday emergencies, please call 208-954-6254 and leave a voicemail.
- Be positive! Your child will have a better experience if you are optimistic; give us the benefit of the doubt and encourage your singer to do the same.
- Please do not say anything negative about other Cantus singers or ensembles.
- First offense – a verbal warning.
- Repeated offenses – removal from rehearsal; possible conference with parent; possible permanent removal from Cantus.
- Extreme behavior (director’s discretion), such as bullying, purposefully distracting others, disrespect to directors, etc. may result in immediate removal from rehearsal, a conference with the parent/guardian, prevention from participating in performances and tours, and/or permanent removal from Cantus.
- Any singer caught with alcohol, drugs, drug paraphernalia, or any type of weapon will be immediately suspended from the program.
Performances and Outfits
Attendance is required at all scheduled performances. The following are acceptable reasons for an excused absence from a performance:
- Severe illness
- Death in the family
- School music performance
- Unresolvable sports conflict (must be approved by the Artistic Director at least one month in advance)
- Pre-arranged family vacation (must be arranged at least one month in advance)
NOTE: Any unexcused absence from a performance may result in the placement of the singer in another ensemble or removal from the program.
Singers will receive emails prior to performances with dress rehearsal and call times, behavior expectations, and any other pertinent details. Below are specifics that apply to all performances:
- Tardiness to a performance, dress, or tech rehearsal may exclude a singer from participation at that performance.
- Singers must wear the required concert attire to sing in the performance.
- Singers must represent Cantus well in all behavior. Any behavior that violates Cantus standards may prevent singers from concert participation.
- Cantus Directors and staff will be unavailable to respond to phone calls, texts and emails on the day before, of and after a dress/tech rehearsal and/or performance. We need to focus all energy and time on executing the performance. For true emergencies on these dates, please leave a voicemail on the Cantus phone (208-954-6254).
Tech and Dress Rehearsals
- All singers MUST attend. Much of the tech rehearsal is organizing logistics, body placement, and microphone and sound balance, which means we need every singer in attendance.
- Final dress/tech rehearsals and pre-performance rehearsals are always closed to the audience, including families. Only designated chaperones will be allowed in the rehearsal area prior to a performance. This allows the singers to concentrate on the music, the director, and concert logistics.
To ensure a professional performance, all singers must follow the dress requirements outlined below. Any singer who fails to dress or groom properly for an event will not be allowed to participate. All singers are responsible for purchasing their own uniforms. Details will be provided during the first month of rehearsals.
- Purchased through Cantus: Dress through Stage Accents, jewelry through Southeastern Performance Apparel – approximately $75.00 and $12.00, respectively. Official prices and instructions to be released in September.
- Provide own: black nylons/tights (no footless), solid black dress shoes (closed toe, closed back, one-inch heel or less, no sparkles).
Grooming: Minimal make up (no distracting colors or sparkles), no perfume (for the sake of allergies), hair pulled back (including bangs that fall below the eyebrows). No large, sparkly or distracting hair accessories.
- Purchased through Cantus: Black vest and black tie (approximately $30.00 and $15.00, respectively). Official prices and instructions to be released in September.
- Provide own: white, collared dress shirt (ironed), black dress slacks (no jeans, corduroy, casual/athletic pants), black socks (no patterns or additional colors), black dress shoes (no tennis shoes or shoes with other colors).
- Grooming: no cologne (for the sake of allergies), hair neatly styled. If too long, hair should be pulled back (at Artistic Director and/or Performance Coordinator’s discretion).
Tuition and Fees
Youth can register semester by semester or for the entire year. Early Bird Discount. All families who register prior to midnight on July 8th will get a $40 discount PER CHILD registered. This discount is only available for students who register for the full year. There is no early bird discount for students who register for a single semester.
Tuition is due in full (or recurring payment plan) at time of registration.
* Youth that commit to a full year are given priority for a spot on our optional tour. Singers who pay by semester may go on tour if there is availability.
Based on your audition and interest, you may be invited to participate in one of our contemporary ensembles (these ensembles are only available to youth who commit and pay for a full year). For information about tuition installments see “Payment Options and Policies” below.
Uniform cost is in addition to tuition and will be handled by the Cantus Parent Organization Outfit Committee after rehearsals begin. Please refer to the “OUTFITS” section of the handbook for more information.
Extra Ensemble Fee
There is an additional participation fee to sing in a secondary ensemble like Rhapsody, Bella Visi, Fortis or VoiceOver. This extra fee helps offset the cost of the music, additional rehearsal space, and outfit rentals.
Tickets to Cantus concerts will be available for purchase prior to each concert. Parents, siblings, and guests will need to purchase tickets to be admitted to concerts. Performing singers do NOT need to purchase a ticket.
Information about tour participate and costs will be disseminated via email.
Payment Options and Policies
All Tuition and Fees are non-refundable, including payments made in the summer prior to the first rehearsal (the Board of Directors may review circumstances in cases of family relocation or extended emergency situations).
- Payments must be made by credit/debit card when you register.
- Tuition can be paid in 6 installment payments by direct debit only (payments are automatically deducted from your debit or credit card account) and are set up when you register. No personal checks or cash will be accepted for tuition payments.
- Fundraised money may be applied to Cantus costs.
- Payments will never be accepted at rehearsal except for dates and times specifically stated in advance (e.g. for advance ticket sales, merchandise sales, or fundraising); directors cannot accept payments of any type on rehearsal evenings. Cantus is not responsible for payments made to unauthorized individuals or at unauthorized times.
- Tuition for the entire season is due in full, even if a child drops out of, is removed from, or joins the program at any time during the season.
- Tuition assessments for singers joining Cantus any time after rehearsals begin will be made by Board discretion.
Payment Statements and Deadlines
- Your Cantus Account (created at registration), see MEMBERS > LOG IN TO CHARMS, allows you to be able to access your account information. Regular statements will not be produced by Cantus. Please note all deadlines and plan accordingly to avoid late charges and negative consequences for your singer. Deferment arrangements must be made in advance and should be submitted via email or in writing, and confirmed by Cantus prior to the due date in writing or via email.
- Deadlines and other payment information will be sent via our regular emails; you are responsible for receiving this information; if your email or computer becomes disabled it is your responsibility to seek out this information in some other way. All emails sent are archived at Members > Email Archives.
- Each singer will be allowed ONE “grace” late payment occurrence; any and all subsequent late payments (i.e. payments made or received after the deadline without prior written or email arrangement confirmed by Cantus staff) will incur late fees.
- Singers with unpaid tuition and/or fees may not be allowed to sing in concerts or participate in tour.
- Past due payments of more than three months may be sent to a collections agency and reported to credit bureaus.
- Fees up to $30 per item will be assessed on any bounced transactions.
Each singer will be presented with a folder of sheet music. Each sheet of music is checked out (by barcode) to each singer. At the end of the year, singers will be charged for any missing or damaged pieces. The Cantus Music Library is one of the organization’s greatest assets, with over $10,000 of the annual budget allocated toward the purchase of sheet music. Music is the property of Cantus and should be kept in outstanding condition.
Handling and Care of Sheet Music
- Music must be brought to all rehearsals unless you are notified otherwise.
- Never fold or roll music.
- Do write performance and rehearsal notes lightly in pencil. Do not deface any piece of music. Blank pages or portions of the music are NOT for drawing pictures, writing personal notes, etc.
- Photocopied music is done with permission and should be treated the same as a printed piece of sheet music from a publisher. Families should not make copies of sheet music and keep it.
- If a piece of music is in need of repair, do so carefully with clear tape.
Cantus strictly adheres to and enforces all copyright laws, including, but not limited to photocopies/duplication of sheet music, handling of audio files, videos files, and other licensed property.
Fees for Lost/Damaged Music
If music or binders are lost, irreparably damaged, or not returned, you will be charged the following:
- $5.00 per piece of music: When purchasing individual pieces of sheet music, we have to pay the additional shipping charges for that copy, which can be up to $5.00 for one copy.
- $5.00-$50.00 for books
Touring and Travel
Cantus sponsors different touring opportunities from year to year. All tour costs are in addition to tuition. Waivers and Work Study Waivers do not apply to tour costs. Tour destinations, costs, dates, etc., will be announced via email as soon as the information is available.
Each director whose ensemble is involved in a given tour will follow a selection process for that tour. To participate in the tour, the following criteria must be met:
- Director approval based on singer behavior.
- No excess unexcused rehearsal or concert absences.
- Passing any part or memorization assignments/tests.
- All payments (for tour, tuition and all incidentals) made on time.
- No outstanding Cantus fees.
- All tour-related documents signed by both the singer and parent/guardian and submitted by the required deadlines.
Given our increased visibility and the extended period of the tour, the singers will be expected to maintain an extremely high level of behavior. In the most severe discipline cases, the director may send the singer home before the completion of the tour at the parent/guardian’s expense. No singer may leave the tour group, even with his or her parent, without prior written approval. Singers and parents will agree to behavioral standards as outlined prior to tour.
- Payments made toward tour will be tracked in your Cantus Account (created at registration). Regular statements are not produced by Cantus. To access your account, log in to Charms at https://www.charmsoffice.com/charms/parents.asp. Your username is your first and last name, all lowercase, with no spaces plus the number of the season (2018-2019 season is “9”) (eg: janedoe9).
- Fundraised money will be held in your account and applied to outstanding balances or future expenses; fundraised money is not refundable nor eligible for cash withdrawal by the singer, but is transferable to other Cantus expenses.
- Touring Account Balances: Any balance remaining in the touring account at the end of the season for a returning singer will stay in their account for use the next season; for a graduating or withdrawing Cantus singer, the funds revert to the Cantus general touring fund. This fund is used to provide financial assistance and pay general touring costs not covered by touring fees charged to participants. Upon request, any balance remaining in a graduating/leaving singer’s touring fund can be transferred into an active sibling’s touring fund for future tours in subsequent seasons.
- Tour Cancellation Policy: In the event that a singer who has previously committed to tour decides for any reason to NOT participate, Cantus may not be able to offer a refund for paid or fundraised money in the singer’s account. Regardless of participation, the singer may still be required to pay for the entire tour. Many tour expenses are paid or bound by contract well ahead of tour.
Cantus Financial Aid consists of three options: Need-Based Tuition Waivers, Work-Study Waivers, and Tuition Deferment Plans. Cantus occasionally has a very limited amount of need-based tuition assistance available. See also the section on FUNDRAISING below.
To apply for Financial Aid:
- Complete a Cantus Financial Aid Application.
- Forms are blind-reviewed and assistance is awarded at the discretion of a committee appointed by the Cantus Board of Directors. Qualification is determined based upon financial need or special circumstances as documented in your application. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
- Tuition waivers may be partial or full, and awards depend upon the resources available in the assistance fund.
- Tuition deadlines are deferred upon prior receipt of your completed Request Form.
If your personal financial circumstances change during the season and alter your ability to pay on a timely basis, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your situation.
Waivers and Work-Study Waivers apply to tuition only, not to Tour costs.
For New Singers and Parents
Welcome to the Cantus Community!
My name is Erika McCauley and I am the Artistic Director of Cantus Youth Choirs. As a teenager, my life was strongly influenced by music. I sang in award-winning choirs that taught me the value of hard work, provided transcendent musical experiences, and gave me a support network that helped me through the challenges of those formative years. This is why I am passionate about teaching music. I have repeatedly seen young lives change for the better through the power of singing.
The discipline, focus, determination and excellence learned in choir can be transferred to all areas of life. It teaches the values of teamwork and trust. It can provide hope, direction and an expanded vision of each individual’s potential.
A small group of community members and myself started Cantus in the fall of 2010 with the hope of bringing this vision and experience to youth of the Treasure Valley. We had an incredible first year. Our 140 singers –many of whom were new to singing in choir – earned national recognition. All of our ensembles participated in a national music festival in Anaheim, California, where they earned superior ratings and an invitation to sing in Carnegie Hall.
As one boy summed it up, “I had the experience of a lifetime in your choir.”
Our subsequent seasons were just as fantastic, if not more so. Our enrollment from Season 1 to Season 2 jumped from 140 singers in three ensembles to 225 singers in six ensembles. The program continues to grow and we now have EIGHT ensembles! We have performed throughout the valley to standing ovations, performed “Songs of Hope” concerts and tours to benefit people in need, hosted acclaimed guest artists, and toured throughout the Western United States.
We look forward to having you as part of Cantus. We invite you to jump in and give your all; you will get out of Cantus what you put into it. Andrew Carnegie said, “Anything in life worth having is worth working for.”
A Note to Singers
In Cantus, we shoot for the moon. The sacrifice of this goal means complete dedication in a once-a-week rehearsal, and up to 20 minutes for four days a week of home practice. If you are willing to give this, you will have your life changed for the better, make new friends, and achieve things you may not have thought possible.
A Note For the Parents
We started this because we have a vision for your child. They will have a first-rate musical experience. I also believe it is important that you know that everything you see is because of minimally paid directors, staff and our many unpaid volunteers. We are a relatively new nonprofit organization. We will need your help and support to make this year, the coordination of over 150 families, our local concerts, our tour, and many other events a success. As you do this, you will not only gain a better understanding of what is happening in Cantus, but why and how it happens.
An anonymous survey of our Cantus families found that the parents who were most involved were also the most satisfied with their child’s Cantus experience. For some of you, we understand that your schedules will only permit support by providing a positive attitude, weekly rides for your child and attending concerts. For others, we hope you are able to offer your time and expertise to help the Cantus youth.
I want to share with you the feelings expressed by a mother whose child was in our first season of Cantus:
How can we even begin to thank you for the outstanding year [our son] enjoyed in Cantus? His favorite day of the week was Tuesdays because he could come and sing with his new friends and learn excellent music… [The singers] learned discipline from you and also the gift of bonding within the group, which resulted in an extremely polished presentation both musically and visually. The new friendships [our son] made have helped him so much to feel included and valued.
The trip to California was wonderful. I had such an incredible emotional response when the groups performed. I will always remember that feeling. I felt the goose bumps, cried the tears and was held in awe at the image of beautiful young people touching the audiences with their gifts … Truly, one of the greatest treasures we have received since moving here is finding Cantus…
Cantus ParentSeason 1
You can feel this way, too.
Join with us to help your child. Together, we can help your singer realize tremendous achievements.
Again, the board and I welcome you to Cantus! Together, we are going to have a great year!
With much gratitude,
President, Founder and Artistic Director