Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Songs of Hope:
- Who can participate in Songs of Hope™ and is any musical experience or training needed or required?
- How many participants attend Songs of Hope™ each summer?
- How hard is it to get into Songs of Hope™?
- Is Songs of Hope™ right for me?
- How do the country delegations work?
- Who are the ComeBack Kids?
- Who is on staff?
- How much personal attention do you get?
- How long is the Songs of Hope™ project and can you attend a partial project or leave at any times during the project?
- Where do we stay?
- Is room and board included in the Fee?
- What is a typical day like?
- Who is eligible for a scholarship?
- Do I receive an acknowledgment of my application?
- What do I need to do if my application is accepted?
- Special Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about International Delegations
To join Songs of Hope™ for the first time, you can be from anywhere in the world, boy or girl, but you need to be aged 10-13 on the first day of the program. We suggest that parents/guardians of children aged 9-10 contact us before sending an application for your child. No formal training or performance experience is needed or required. However, because Songs of Hope™ is an intensive performance project, participants should have nice singing voices, an ability to move comfortably to different rhythms, and a sincere love of music. After all, you’re going to be in rehearsals for six hours on many days, and when we’re on tour, you’re going to perform twenty or more concerts! Speaking English is not necessary, but we suggest you learn some simple English before joining us.
It depends. First, we need to emphasize that Songs of Hope™ is organized by an award-winning, nonprofit performing arts organization, Sounds of Hope, Ltd., which is mission-driven to reach diverse audiences with musical messages of global understanding and cultural celebration. To get the right artistic mix of countries and cultures in Songs of Hope™ (and to give each child and each audience member a very diverse global experience), we extend special invitations each summer to 8-15 (and sometimes more) friends in other countries and a number of carefully selected Minnesota kids. We also invite some past participants to return as ComeBack Kids. The number of places available to new participants through open enrollment therefore varies. Our total capacity is 75 participants, and the ratio of participants to staff is never more than 4 to 1.
Admission into Songs of Hope™ is somewhat selective. There are more applicants than places. For artistic and program reasons, we seek diversity, and we look especially for children who are motivated, energetic, and friendly – kids who will benefit from and appreciate the global living experience and intense performance opportunity offered by Songs of Hope™.
Are you friendly? Are you curious about the world? Do you enjoy singing and performing? Would you enjoy having roommates from several different countries? Do you keep your room at home very clean? (Just kidding) Do your parents and you appreciate the value of an experience that will prepare you to be a global citizen? Do you care about people and the future of the world? Do you treat others respectfully? Are you open to differing viewpoints? Would you like to understand others better? Would you like to look back at your summer and say, “Wow, I changed, I learned, and I grew?” Would you enjoy having friends all over the world? From your answers to these questions, you will know if Songs of Hope™ is right for you.
Over the years, we have developed and nurtured relationships with individuals, schools, and organizations in many different countries throughout the world – in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and other places. Typically, we have invited a half dozen or so of country "delegations" each summer. As the number of individual applications has grown, we have moved away from delegations but we still leave open the possibility of inviting a few. We decide which countries to invite based on our artistic and program goals for the new project. The main reason for delegations is to assure a wide range of countries worldwide in order to be certain that the SOH participants have diverse experiences with children from many countries, cultures, economic situations, and social settings. The participation of international delegations is partly sponsored by grants and contributions from many generous supporters.
Each summer, we will invite a certain number of past participants to return as ComeBack Kids. In choosing In choosing which participants to invite, we look for kids who work hard, treat others well, and may be future leaders. We also select ComeBack Kids who can contribute to consistency of artistic quality and a broad range of diversity of all kinds.
Songs of Hope™ has an outstanding, dynamic, and experienced staff. The members of the artistic staff include our artistic director, Jeanne Junge, some of the Twin Cities’ best players of music from around the world, a vocal director, a vocal coach, experienced rehearsal assistants, dance assistants, and others. The senior staff is led by our co-founders, Jeanne Junge and Tom Surprenant. A unique and wonderful aspect of Songs of Hope™ is our staff Junior Team. The Junior Team members (or JT's) are all past participants of Songs of Hope™. The oldest members of this Junior Team are called the Junior Staff. The JT’s lead activities, supervise free time, assist in rehearsals, handle concert tour jobs, perform on stage with the younger participants, and act as role models, mentors, and friends. The Junior Team program offers an outstanding advancement and growth opportunity for older Songs of Hope™ participants who want to hone leadership skills while taking on new and more challenging artistic roles. You become a JT by invitation only.
Lots. As just discussed, we have an amazing staff of JT’s made up entirely of past participants. The youngest youth leaders are “apprentices” in training for Junior Staff positions. They, too, act as mentors and experienced guides for the younger kids. The Junior Team members are everywhere – leading learning sessions, attending rehearsals both as leaders and fellow performers, supervising free time, solving problems, and teaching by example. Our artistic staff is made up entirely of professional artists and musicians, and they lead every rehearsal and many are involved or present at every concert.
How long is the Songs of Hope™ project and can you attend a partial project or leave at any times during the project?
There is only one Songs of Hope™ project each summer. It is typically around forty-six days long, starting usually around the third or fourth weekend of June and going to the early part of August. All participants must stay for the entire project. This is because Songs of Hope™ is a serious performance project. Participants spend the first three weeks in intensive rehearsals, readying a ninety-minute concert for performance. Then they go into the community on a three-week concert tour, presenting 25-30 concerts and mini-concerts in venues varying from nursing homes and human services agencies (our arts-in-service concerts) to indoor theatres and outdoor amphitheaters. Everyone in the Songs of Hope™ company is needed for every concert. Occasionally, a participant may arrive late or leave early because of school commitments, or may need to leave Songs of Hope™ for one or two days because of an important, prior commitment, but we cannot typically permit longer absences. Rehearsals move quickly, with everyone on the performance “team” helping and supporting each other. In other words, if you are in Songs of Hope™, you are always needed!
We all live together in a dormitory on the campus of the University of St. Thomas. Songs of Hope™ is not affiliated in any way with the University or with any religion. The University of St. Thomas is located in a quiet, residential neighborhood of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Saint Paul is part of the large Minneapolis/Saint Paul (or Twin Cities) urban area. There are many advantages to being part of an urban area full of cultural, sports, and recreational opportunities. Participants live in two-room room suites, with 3-4 roommates from different countries.
Yes, the Fee includes room and board. Songs of Hope™ creates an international “family” in the dorm. Participants will find themselves helping with meals (prepared and served in the dorm) and other aspects of daily living. Special dietary needs are accommodated.
When you’re in rehearsals, you work hard. Days usually start with physical warm-ups followed by a three-hour singing rehearsal. After lunch, there are dance/movement sessions, song learning rehearsals, percussion sessions in some years, stage blocking rehearsals, and other sessions to get the concert ready. When we’re on tour, we perform almost every day. This doesn't mean there's no fun. Actually, there's a lot! Around rehearsals and performances, there are games and activities, crafts, outings, and special Songs of Hope™ events like an International Halloween in July, our special version of the Olympics, a Prom Night, and other fun stuff. You might worry about the hard work of rehearsals and concerts when you’re on summer vacation. Well, if you love singing and performing, and you enjoy being part of a team, and you like the idea of making friends all over the world, you will discover that you REALLY will enjoy everything about Songs of Hope™.
You start the process by sending in your regular application. At the same time, you should contact us and tell us you're interested in a scholarship because you don’t think you can pay the full Fee. We will then send a financial aid application and information about scholarships. We cannot offer scholarships to everyone who needs one, but we do our best to make Songs of Hope™ available to as many kids as possible regardless of financial situation. We calculate the amount of scholarships we award to any one applicant based on objective formulas, but we also pay attention to any special financial problems you might have. Don’t be afraid to apply because the Fee seems too much. Your application deposit is refundable and a scholarship may be available!
Once we receive your application, you will be e-mailed or mailed an acknowledgment note that includes a reminder about your application deposit if you didn’t pay it with your application.
With your acceptance packet, you will receive all the information needed to complete your registration and to get yourself ready for what may prove to be the most exciting new experience of your life – living and performing with kids from countries around the world. Your first time as a Songs of Hope™ participant!
Are you interested in creating a new delegation from your country? If you are a teacher, choir leader, or someone who would like to join us with a delegation, contact us at [email protected].
A country delegation is typically made up of three people: a boy and a girl, who are 10-13 years old, and an adult companion. The adult companion is aged 21 or over, speaks English, and is not a close relative of either of the children. The children do not need to speak English. Each international delegation selects and prepares songs and/or dances to represent the culture of the country. The children bring folk costumes and rehearse in advance to perform their songs and dances. The adult companion acts as the children’s chaperone but also as a member of the Songs of Hope™ community, living with everyone, attending rehearsals, traveling with the company, and, if the companion wishes, performing on stage as part of the company.
In each country, the relationship may be different. In some countries, we have worked with a specific school or a children’s program or arts organization. In others, we have worked with an individual, a Lion’s Club, or a family member of a past participant. To arrange a delegation, you need to identify at least one person who is willing to give the time and effort to locate the right children and adult companion and to organize their planning.
The most important thing is this: We need to know that you have a reliable person or organization in your country to make arrangements and to choose appropriate participants. Before you do anything, you should contact us to ask about organizing a delegation from your country. You will need to show us:
- You have found someone to make all the arrangements.
- You can make a commitment (promise) to send delegations to Songs of Hope™ for at least three consecutive years.
- Your delegation will represent a new country or culture not already represented by existing delegations.
- If citizens of your country need U.S. visas, visas must be obtainable no later than May 1 of the year you’re participating, unless we agree to a later date.
The costs and fees for a new delegation are the expenses of getting passports and visas, the airfare to Songs of Hope™, traveler’s medical insurance, and a negotiable fee for all three people. The fee takes into account travel costs, financial means of the participants, and other factors. If you have special needs, tell us when you first contact us.
If you would like to create an official Songs of Hope™ international delegation for an upcoming summer project, please contact us immediately. We will communicate with you about the process.