American Kodály Children's Chorus

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The American Kodály Children’s Chorus is dedicated to offering all boys and girls, ages 5-18, in the greater Baltimore area access to high quality music training in a nurturing environment. 

A photo of the American Kodály Children's Chorus

During the school year, the chorus meets at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore. During the summer, the chorus is in residence at Loyola University Maryland as an observation and laboratory chorus for the graduate students enrolled in the American Kodály Institute’s summer master’s degree program in Kodály Music Education. The chorus’s artistic director is Dr. Alyson Shirk, and the teaching staff consists of AKI graduates Lauren McDougle, Suzannah Norris and Jim Javorsky.

The American Kodály Children’s Chorus strives for excellence by providing students with:

  • Vocal pedagogy-based choral and solo singing instruction
  • Kodály method and play-based musicianship coursework
  • Local, regional, and international performance opportunities

Choristers learn to sing, read, and write music through engagement with a diverse repertoire of classical, spiritual, and folk music from many traditions. The unique rehearsal and class curricula and activities offer an enriched learning environment and opportunities for positive social interaction with peers. 

Class Descriptions and Schedules

  • Cantus - Training choir with local performance opportunities 

Each choir rehearsal is accompanied by one musicianship class. Students are placed in classes according to skill level.

Schedule: Meets on Tuesdays
5:00-6:15 p.m.: Choir rehearsal
6:15-7:15 p.m.: Musicianship Class

  • Concert Choir - Touring choir

Each choir rehearsal is accompanied by one musicianship class. Students are placed in classes according to skill level.

Schedule: Meets on Tuesdays
6:00-7:30 p.m.: Choir rehearsal
7:30-8:30 p.m.: Musicianship Class

The 20l3-2014 school year for both choirs runs from Tuesday, September 17, 2013 to Tuesday, May 20, 2014.  Summer camp residence at Loyola University Maryland runs from July 21 – 25.

How to join

  1. Interview
    Each new student needs to set up an interview in order to join the chorus and be placed appropriately in the musicianship classes and performance choirs. Interviews are conducted by Dr. Alyson Shirk and last 30-45 minutes. Be prepared to sing a song of  choice and play musical games to determine placement.
    To schedule an interview, contact Dr. Shirk at  Acceptances, with chorus and class placement information, will be emailed following the interview.


  1. Register
    Download and complete the registration form. (See the Registration Form link at the top of this page.)
    Return the completed form, with payment, to:
         Jacyln Orchard
         Bryn Mawr Music School
         109 W. Melrose Ave
         Baltimore, MD 21210.


Dr. Alyson Shirk, Artistic Director

Alyson Shirk

Dr. Alyson Shirk, artistic director of the American  Kodály Children’s Chorus, also serves as director of music for The Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland. She earned her doctorate in vocal performance from Shenandoah Conservatory in 2009, where she was awarded the Dean’s Graduate Scholar Award for excellence in scholarship for her dissertation “Mad Women in Opera: An Investigation of Madness and Selected Mad Scenes for Soprano." In 2009, Dr. Shirk taught master classes and performed the Brahms Requiem with the Ho Chi Minh Symphony Orchestra in Vietnam. In 2010, she studied and performed the music of Argentine composer Carlos Guastavino in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  

The American Kodály Children’s Chorus and Dr. Shirk’s Bryn Mawr Chorus have performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, The US State Department, and The Blair House. Dr. Shirk is the former artistic director of the Children’s Chorus of Maryland, and she conducted children from that chorus on a tour to Budapest, Hungary in July 2013, where they were keynote performers at the Kodály Institute's Seminar at the International Kodály Symposium opening concert. In addition to her work at Bryn Mawr, Dr. Shirk is a frequent choral clinician, adjudicator, and master class teacher.

Lauren McDougle, AKCC Class Teacher

Lauren McDougle

Lauren McDougle teaches pre-kindergarten to fifth grade general music and chorus in the public schools, and instructs beginner and intermediate piano and clarinet students in her private studio. She has served for five years on the teaching staff of the Children's Chorus of Maryland, where she has taught Beginner I, Intermediate I, Intermediate II, Solfa II, and Solfa IV musicianship classes. Ms. McDougle graduated from Bowling Green State University in Ohio with a bachelor's degree in Music Education, received her Level I Orff-Schulwerk certification from the Eastman School of Music, and holds a Master of Education in Kodály Music Education from the American Kodály Institute at Loyola University Maryland. She currently teaches graduate level Materials classes in the summer at AKI. Ms. McDougle is a frequent presenter at workshops and professional development sessions in the state of Maryland, and is president-elect of Maryland United Specialists in Kodály (MUSIK), a chapter of the Organization of American Kodály Educators.

Suzannah Norris, AKCC Class Teacher

Suzannah Norris

Suzannah Norris teaches pre-K through 8th grade general music at Our Lady of Hope/St. Luke’s School in Baltimore, Maryland. She also teaches Music Together® classes for young children and their families at the Abbott Center for the Arts.  Ms. Norris earned a B.A. in Music with an emphasis in Vocal Performance from Eastern University. She holds a Master of Education in Kodály Music Education from the American Kodály Institute at Loyola University Maryland and, in 2012, taught Solfa I and Solfa III classes for the AKI summer master’s degree program.

Jim Javorsky, AKCC Class Teacher

Jim Javorsky

Jim Javorsky teaches music to students in grades K-5 at Red Pump Elementary School in Harford County. He received his bachelor’s degree in Music Education with an emphasis in Voice from Ohio’s Bowling Green State University. In 2012, he received his Master of Education in Kodály Music Education from the American Kodály Institute at Loyola University Maryland.

Fees and Payment

  • Cantus: $1100 (includes $100 materials and uniform fee)
  • Concert Choir: $1200 (includes $100 materials and uniform fee)

Cancellation/Refund Policy

A full refund, less $100 materials and uniform fee, will be granted for withdrawal until the first rehearsal is held. Refund requests must be submitted in writing to Dr. Alyson Shirk at Once the first rehearsal is held, choristers will be considered fully enrolled.


Dr. Alyson Shirk, Director of Music
The Bryn Mawr School
109 W. Melrose Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21210
410-323-8800 x1668