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About Sola Gratia Musicians

Sola Gratia Musicians, Inc. (SGM) is a Christian educational organization offering musical training and choral experience to home–educated students.  Musical content is approached from a Judeo-Christian philosophy.  Both sacred and secular pieces are used, and their texts are explored as part of the study of individual pieces.

“Sola Gratia" is pronounced SO-lah GRAH-tsee-ah.  A Latin maxim of the Protestant Reformation, the phrase means “by grace alone.”  Sola Gratia Musicians, Inc. seeks to first be identified with the Lord Jesus Christ, and the music that results is in response to His grace.  Training, rehearsals, and performances are conducted in a professional, orderly manner that seeks to challenge, nurture, and encourage spiritual and musical growth in the lives of students.

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Choir at Cairn University Choral Festival

Jubilate Choir members at the Cairn Choral Festival

Registration for the 2017-2018 choral season is now open!

Process:

  • Carefully read the guidelines section of this website.
  • Print the registration packet, then complete and mail the applicable pages with payment.

 

Last Updated (Monday, 05 June 2017 20:35)

 

Meet Our Directors

KAREN BURGMAN, founding DIRECTOR (on sabbatical)

Karen P. Burgman

A pianist, teacher, conductor, and composer, Karen earned a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from the Oberlin Conservatory. An award-winning chamber musician and collaborative pianist, she has performed coast to coast in the USA, and in Canada and Europe -- including notable venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Toronto Center for the Performing Arts, the National Gallery of Art, and Jordan Hall in Boston.

Karen is the founding pianist of the nationally touring Credo Trio.  She performs regularly with other instrumentalists, including performers from the Philadelphia Orchestra and faculty from Oberlin and Julliard. She is certified in Dalcroze Eurhythmics and serves on the faculty at the internationally recognized Credo Chamber Music Festival in Oberlin, Ohio.

A 2015 finalist for the Ovation award, Karen was recognized at Verizon Hall for "inspiration and outstanding leadership in music education." She contributed original music and arrangements to the Broadway show, "Amazing Grace."  Karen teaches piano privately at Cairn Community Arts Academy.  She has two solo piano CDs released on her own label, Lifespring Music, LLC.

Karen studied choral conducting at the Oberlin Conservatory and at Westminster Choir College's choral summer program.  She is the founding artistic director of SGM. Karen resides in Fountainville, PA, with her husband and daughters.

kirsten echegoyen, director of concert choir

Kirsten Echegoyen

Kirsten Echegoyen is a graduate of Cairn University, where she earned Bachelor's Degrees in both Music Education and Bible. She went on to teach music for seven years in Great Valley School District, where her responsibilities included teaching middle school general music and choir, teaching string lessons, and conducting the elementary orchestras. During this time, she earned a Master's Degree in Music Education at Temple University.

Kirsten's choral music experience includes conducting high school choir as a student teacher in Pennsbury School District, studying with Alan Harler during her time at Temple University, and singing for many years under the direction of Dr. David Shockey at Csehy Summer School of Music and at Cairn University. Musically, her first love is choral conducting, and she is thrilled to have the opportunity to draw high school students closer to Christ by glorifying Him in song.

Since 2007, most of Kirsten's time has been spent in raising and homeschooling her two children, Benjamin and Arwen.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, running, and traveling with her children and her husband, Ben.

 

 

GAYLE TUTTLE, DIRECTOR OF PRIMA and youth CHOIRs

Gayle Tuttle

Gayle Tuttle  graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Bible from Pillsbury Baptist Bible College.  She later continued her studies in piano with Mrs. Gail Gingery, Rebecca Bonham, Joyce Goodwin, and Karen Burgman.  Gayle brings to SGM a lifetime of methodology in teaching children to experience the joy of music.

Gayle has participated in numerous vocal groups, choirs, and ensembles, as well as led women's and children's small ensembles.  She has also studied choral conducting in the Westminster Choir's choral summer program.  Her preschool music experience was gained as an instructor for the Kindermusik Maestro Program, Milestones in Music.  She is a licensed Musikgarten Educator and the founder of the MusicFUNdamentals program offered by SGM.

Gayle is the owner of Klavier Kids, a piano studio located in Lansdale, PA.  She is also a certified instructor of Music for Young Children, a group piano program.

Gayle has been co-directing SGM's Youth Choir since its inception.  She and her husband Jeff have four children and seven grandchildren -- who add much fun to their lives!  Gayle enjoys attending concerts, traveling, reading and cooking.

 

JOSEPH WAGGONER, DIRECTOR OF jubilate choir and advanced ensembles

Joseph WaggonerJoseph graduated from Bob Jones University with a Bachelor of Music degree in church music with a voice principal. He studied singing with David Parker and conducting with Christine Lee, Fred Coleman and Warren Cook. Joseph enjoyed singing in a variety of university choral groups under the direction of Gail Gingery, Chris Gilliam, Warren Cook and Dwight Gustafson. He also participated in the University Opera Association.

Following graduation, Joseph worked as a teacher and music director in Wyoming. He organized and directed high school choirs which performed at churches throughout Wyoming and Utah. He also prepared students for solo and ensemble vocal competitions.

Joseph has completed his Level I Suzuki Voice training and enjoys working with voice students of all ages.  He also conducts the adult choir and participates in special programs at Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Glenside, PA.

One of his greatest joys is music time with his wife, Rebekah, and their three children.

 

Last Updated (Thursday, 08 June 2017 20:57)

 

Our Choirs & Classes

SGM is organized into five progressive choirs. Students are encouraged to participate in the earlier choirs prior to joining Concert Choir, in order to develop their musical skills and prepare them for more advanced repertoire. Each choir will participate in the fall and spring concerts. All choristers are required to practice their music at home in preparation for rehearsals. Expectations for practicing are shared in weekly rehearsals.

In order for the directors to assess a student's readiness for participation in a choral group and to determine voice parts, all new prospective choir members will schedule an audition. These will be held on August 9, 2017, at Bethany Bible Fellowship Church in Hatfield, PA. Age cutoffs for the choirs are October 1. Directors may opt to place students in choirs based on their ability rather than age, as appropriate. Directors also reserve the right to deny enrollment, to request that a chorister discontinue participation, and in special cases to require private music lessons for participation in the choirs.

PRIMA CHOIR (AGES 5-7)

Gayle Tuttle, Director

This choral readiness program is designed to help develop and solidify the ability to sing in tune and keep a steady beat. A multi-sensory approach is used, including rhythm and tonal activities, as well as singing and movement games. Choristers will participate briefly in the winter and spring concerts, for which attendance is required. Prerequisite: Completion of Family Fun class or a "Mommy and Me" interview.

YOUTH CHOIR (AGES 7-10)

Gayle Tuttle, Director

Students in Youth Choir are introduced to principles of good choral singing technique, as well as musical expression. Although students will be taught some of the material by rote, they will also be taught foundational principles in reading music and how to sing in two parts. Ability to match pitch and repeat patterns is required.

JUBILATE CHOIR (AGES 11-13)

Joseph Waggoner, Director

Students are taught further principles of choral singing technique and are introduced to singing in three parts. There is a strong emphasis on musical literacy and individual practice at home. Ability to match pitch and repeat patterns is required.

CONCERT CHOIR (AGES 14 AND UP)

Kirsten Echegoyen, Director

More advanced musicianship is developed, and singing is in four parts. Members must demonstrate satisfactory music reading skills, as well as ability to match pitch and repeat patterns.

ADVANCED ENSEMBLES (AGES 14 AND UP)

Joseph Waggoner, Director

Advanced Ensembles are open to Concert Choir members who audition. Members must be willing to be leaders in Concert Choir. Students sing more difficult repertoire and are expected to be comfortable singing a capella and in divided parts.

 

MusicFUNdamentals

MusicFUNdamentals training provides a broad-based musical foundation on which children can build for a lifetime. This musical base will help children reach their full musical potential in both choral and instrumental study. This foundation is laid using four components:  listening, singing, moving, and ensemble playing.

musicfundamentals FAMILY FUN CLASS (AGES 2-5)

Gayle Tuttle, teacher

This class meets the first 11 weeks of each semester and is designed for the parent and child(ren) to participate together.  Older siblings may attend at no additional cost.

Family Fun is for young children and their families. Students will enjoy using all of their senses to discover the world around them. They will use their imagination while singing and playing instruments to nature-themed songs. Through echoing rhythm and tonal patterns, they begin to learn the language of music. Purposeful movement activities and focused listening exercises engage their minds and bodies. Language development is nurtured through the rhythm of poetry and storytelling.

Quality Home Materials (by MusikGarten) enable parents to bring music/activities home for their children to enjoy on a daily basis. This important listening dimension surrounds your child with music every day.

Last Updated (Monday, 05 June 2017 15:48)

 

Our History

 

Tracing His Hand . . . Celebrating His Faithfulness


Sola Gratia Musicians, Inc. was founded by two moms (Janice Firth and Miriam Willits) who desired to provide choral experience for their children and other home educated students.  They solicited advice from the director of the Princeton Area Homeschool Choir who kindly "held their hands" as they considered the many details that would have to come together in order to form a choral organization.

As discussions were initiated with a prospective Artistic Director, a loyal base of homeschool families was asked to be in prayer for the new venture. The Lord faithfully brought all details together in a matter of months.  Karen Burgman agreed to come on board as SGM's Artistic Director.  Ginny Jefferis agreed to serve as SGM's first accompanist, as well as a member of the Steering Committee.  With a director, accompanist, and Steering Committee in place, plans were made to organize for SGM's first choral season.

In choosing a name, it was decided that "Sola Gratia Musicians" was an apt fit.  The Latin term “sola gratia" (SO-lah GRAH-tsee-ah) means "by grace alone."  It reflected the organizers’ profound conviction that if the choral training and performances were to have excellence and be God-glorifying, it would do so by His grace alone.

Prospective choristers and their families were invited to meet the Artistic Director, and workshops were held to introduce students to Eurhythmics -- a study in which bodily movements are used to represent musical rhythms. Bethany Bible Fellowship Church in Hatfield, PA, graciously agreed to host these introductory sessions.  It has since become the "home base" for SGM's weekly rehearsals.

Initially, SGM offered a Concert Choir, Chamber Choir and a Eurhythmics class.  As the organization grew, a Youth Choir was added, then a Junior Choir (later renamed Jubilate Choir).  Gayle Tuttle came on board to co-direct these two younger choirs.  She also taught MusicFUNdamentals classes for young children, which continue to run concurrently with weekly choir rehearsals.

SGM incorporated in 2012, and a Board of Directors was established.  Soon after, the Board completed the process for acquiring 501(c)(3) non-profit status.

In 2013, SGM welcomed directors, Joseph and Rebekah Waggoner. They brought their gifts of vocal training and accompanying.

In 2014, a Prima Choir for 5-7 year-olds was introduced, and for the first time three advanced ensembles were offered: men’s and women’s chamber choirs, and a Madrigals ensemble.

SGM has grown from its first enrollment of 23 choristers to a high of 115. Over the years our students have had amazing opportunities to work with modern composers Morten Lauridsen, Rollo Dilworth and Craig Courtney. They have enjoyed a choral exchange with the Princeton Area Homeschool Choir, attending Cairn University Choral Festivals, working with Dr. Joe Ohrt of Central Bucks High School, singing back-up for Adam Jacobs (currently starring in Aladdin on Broadway) at a local Amazing Grace, the Musical reading, performing in a concert to benefit Choice One Pregnancy Care Center with Josh Young and Erin Mackey of the Broadway cast of Amazing Grace, the Musical.

As a serving choir, SGM has been privileged to sing for many local nursing home facilities, at Barnes and Noble of Willow Grove, caroling in neighborhoods and at Peddler’s Village, singing to benefit local missions groups and performing annual benefit concerts for the Pregnancy Resource Clinic of North Penn.

The Lord has greatly blessed SGM through the entire process of its formation and growth, with countless evidences of His providential guidance.  He has provided for SGM’s needs through a variety of means – including the work and generosity of SGM parents, the donation of used risers by another local musical organization, and a beautiful new cargo trailer donated to store and haul the risers.

All glory is given to Him for His hand of blessing! We continue to train, sing, and serve by His grace alone.

 

 

 

 

Last Updated (Tuesday, 31 May 2016 15:45)

 
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