Do we need to be Mennonite to participate?

Not at all. The choir over the years has always had young singers from a wide variety of denominations. The festival continues to reflect the qualities and musical sensibilities valued by and heard in many Mennonite churches in their traditional four-part congregational singing. But like “Amish cheese” or “Amish furniture” we see this heritage as a gift to the wider world. Everyone in grades 3 through 9 is invited and welcome to be part of the festival.

How much does it cost for my child to participate?

It costs $40 per child to register each year. You can register your child online here. Because this includes the choral costs as well as the expenses for the Saturday lunch and using the campus recreation center,  the registration fee is a fraction of the actual per-singer cost of the festival. For this reason we charge the same amount per child even if from the same family.  Contact any one of the committee members in the Contacts tab above if sending an additional child or children in your family is prohibitive. We’ll reduce the fees. Confidentiality will be observed.

What does my child need to wear?

For the concert on Sunday afternoon,  each child needs to wear a white shirt or blouse and solid black or navy blue slacks or skirt (skirts should be at the knee or longer). We ask that there be no high heeled shoes for the girls and that the boys wear black or dark shoes.  For Saturday practice, the children should wear comfortable casual clothes and shoes. (see the schedule )

Where do most of the children come from?

The largest group come from northern Indiana, but each year a significant and growing number of the singers hail  from Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and more distant parts of Indiana. A group from Lombard, Illinois, travels 130 miles to be at the festival, and a group from Pigeon, Michigan, drive 4-and-a-half hours (270 miles). Close to 50 different congregations and organizations are represented by the singers. See the Participating Churches quick link in the sidebar to this page for a list of congregations from the last festival. About 130 singers have registered for the 2015 festival.

What about lodging if we are from out of state or not from the Goshen area?

If you come as a group from a distance and would like lodging at a church building, just let us know and we will make these arrangements. If you come as a family unit and prefer to be in a home, we will make this arrangement. If you prefer a motel, there are numerous options in and around Goshen, Indiana, that your group leader can make. Contact any one of the committee members in the Contacts tab above to request lodging assistance.

What about food?

Your child will have a pizza lunch and healthy finger snacks during the practice day on Saturday (no additional cost). Make a note on your registration if your child has any food allergies the staff needs to be aware of.

What ages can be part of the festival?

Anyone in grades 3 through 9. The singers will be part of a combined choir of all those grades as well as part of either the younger choir (grades 3 through 5) or the older choir (grades 6-9).

How many years of participation does a child need to earn a recognition award?

When a child participates in three festivals, the child receives a certificate of recognition. With six total years, the child (now a young teen) receives a plaque. These are presented publically during the Sunday afternoon concert. Participation in the festival does not need to be consecutive. A child that misses one year can still earn the six-year plaque since there are seven possible years to attend the festival (through grade 9).

How much does it cost for family and friends to attend the final concert?

The concert on Sunday at 2 p.m. is free and open to the public. (But have children and youth singing in the choir there at 12:55 please so they can be included in a photo shoot of the choir.) A free-will offering is lifted at intermission.  If you want to write a check beforehand, it can be made out to Mennonite Youth Choir Festival. Contributions are tax deductible and are handled through the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference offices.

What time do I drop off my child on SATURDAY morning and pick up in the afternoon?

The Saturday practice on Festival weekend is designed to work for both the children and the parents/adults  dropping them off. Singers for both choirs should be signed in at the  Goshen College Music Center (Sauder Hall) between 9 and 9:15 a.m.  Plan to pick them up between 4:00 and 4:15 in the afternoon. We’ll take good care of them and give them lunch, so enjoy the day doing whatever you please between 9 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Take a look at the Saturday schedule here.

What time do I drop off and pick up my child on SUNDAY for the concert?

Your child needs to be dropped off by 12:45 on Sunday afternoon.  The taking of the choir photos (like the one you see at the top if this page) begins at 1:00. Please be prompt or a bit early so your child won’t be left out of the photo! The concert official start time is 2:00 p.m. See the Sunday schedule here.

What specifically will my child do Saturday morning and afternoon of Festival Weekend?

The Saturday schedule includes rehearsal with each individual choir (the grades 3-5 choir and the grades 6-9 choir), a snack, a pizza lunch with finger veggies, rehearsal with the combined choirs, and strategically planned breaks and a activity time.  Take a look at the schedule here.

Any tips for helping my son get excited about being part of the festival?

Yes. Try this truly inspiring classic Disney movie (“Almost Angels”), which casts the actual members of the Vienna Boys Choir on a fun tour of the United States: Getting Boys Excited to Sing

My child has a special physical or emotional need–how can I communicate that to the festival planners?

We welcome your child and want to know about the child’s needs so we can be of help in making this a positive experience. Please contact one of the committee members listed in the Contacts tab at the top of this page before the festival.

Are there any available practices my child can be part of BEFORE the festival weekend?

Yes. These are optional, but many families near the Goshen area–and some from a further distance–choose to have their children participate in them. Take at look at when and where these are held.

Are the songs that my child needs to learn available on this website for downloading or playing from the computer or my mobile device?

Yes. If you child has an iPod or similar device with playlists, ask your child to download the songs for the festival. Click on the Rehearsal tab and then enter the password that is sent out to you with the sheet music. Don’t have the password handy? No problem. Just shoot us an email (mmsch5@centurylink.net) and we’ll email it back to you right away, or call one of the MYCF committee members.

Can choir groups come to the festival and have a chance to perform as a group? 

We welcome you to bring your choir to the festival, but the vision of this festival is different from other choral festivals that have choirs performing individually as distinct choirs. All the children and teens in the Mennonite Youth Choir Festival blend together to form a choir (a grades 3-5 choir and a 6-9 choir and then the two groups combined for a number of songs). No groups within the larger choir perform separately. All children participate equally.

Do you need volunteer help with the festival?

Yes! We need volunteers for meal preparation and serving, overseeing the activity time for both choir groups in the recreation center, serving on the planning committee for the festival, assisting youth during the concert with moving from stage to concert seats, and for ushering at the concert on Sunday afternoon. If you would be willing to take on one or more of these roles, please contact one of the committee members listed in the Contacts tab at the top of this page. We’d be grateful! Another way to help is to connect individual families and congregations with the festival by giving a committee member the name of a person who might be willing to distribute literature about the event and become a contact person for the festival committee.

Does the festival make a profit?

We are a non-profit organization run by a volunteer group of committee members who donate all of their time and travel expenses to make this happen. Funds received go directly to the immediate costs of hosting the festival. Donations to the festival help us keep revenues riding a bit above costs. Without donations, our budget wouldn’t stay in the black.

How can I donate toward the expenses of the festival?

Donations can be made out to the Mennonite Youth Choir Festival and sent to Lola Gingerich, 3406 W. 1250 N., Milford, IN, 46542. We promise to make efficient  and effective use of the donation toward the festival’s stated mission goals.  Thank you for your contribution toward this initiative and to the lives of the young people who are part of the festival.

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