Kids learn tunes for the love of singing

Little Mountain, McCammon and Bernard elementary students get to sing in a group every week.

Bernie Hops (left) and Bob Wardle sing with students at Central elementary in 2011.

Bernie Hops (left) and Bob Wardle sing with students at Central elementary in 2011.

It’s not singing lessons.

It’s all for the joy of singing.

The Chilliwack singing program kick-started by some local barbershop singers started off at Central elementary, and grew from there. Today kids at Little Mountain, McCammon and Bernard elementary schools sing in a group every week.

“It’s about getting the kids to sing,” says Bernie Hops, who has run the program for more than seven years. “Some find out through us that they actually love to sing and perform in public.”

Hops is assisted by volunteers like Tony Bestebroer, Bob Wardle, Julie Muirhead, Nancy Browne and Janice Balakshin.

The children sing for about 30 minutes each session, and sometimes the volunteers work with three classes at a time.

“All they need to bring is their voices,” he says. “And it doesn’t cost the school a nickel. They love it.”

They belt out songs like Take Me Out to the Ballgame, This Land is Your Land, and Zippady Do Da, and She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain.

Lyrics from donated songbooks are projected onto a classroom wall with the help of an overhead projector to make it easier for everyone to sing along. The children learn to pronounce all the words to the well-known songs, and sometimes it helps improve their language arts skills.

“When they are asked to perform at a local seniors’ home for example, they get all excited about it,” he says.

Everyone benefits from the cross-generational interaction.

“The teachers also appreciate it, and sometimes they sing along with the kids.”

The program volunteers are again trying to organize a performance to celebrate Music Monday, held across Canada on the first Monday in May.

“We’re trying to get more schools involved,” says Hops, adding that several new ones have expressed interest in the singing program.

“We could also use some help from the community to keep this good thing going.”

Volunteers who love to sing or play an instrument that could accompany the singers, are welcome to call Hops at 604-792-5292 or email