There were no tense auditions. No experience was required. And no fees were collected for youngsters to find their place in the newly created Mispillion Children’s Chorus.

There were no tense auditions. No experience was required. And no fees were collected for youngsters to find their place in the newly created Mispillion Children’s Chorus.
That’s because the singing group was designed by Founding Directors Sharon Starling and Layne Thompson-Payne to give all children between the ages of 6 and 11 an opportunity to explore the world of music.
“When I met Layne it was like we were kindred spirits who love children and music,” Starling said. “One of the things we agreed on the first time we met was that we wanted a chorus that was open to all children. They didn’t have to be under pressure to audition or pay money to join. We were trying to eliminate the barriers.”
The newly formed Mispillion Children’s Chorus held its first meeting on Sept. 16 at the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club with about 10 to 12 participants.
It has since grown to about 30 regular singers and the group is now preparing for its first two concerts – the Dec. 12 Milford Community Concert at Avenue United Methodist Church on North Church Street and a Dec. 20 performance with the Lewes Men’s Chorus at the United Methodist Church in Lewes.
“I think it’s doing very well, I like it a lot,” said Hailey Cylinder, a 10-year-old. “I think singing in a concert is going to be a great experience for me. I like singing, of course, and it also gives you a chance to make some new friends. I really like to sing Silent Night.”
The singers are currently working on Christmas songs for their upcoming concerts, but they also work some pop music, show tunes and classics into their rehearsal repertoire.
Starling and Thompson-Payne, who both have long-running backgrounds in children’s music, said they just want to provide a positive musical journey for their group.
“After I moved to Milford four years ago, I found out there wasn’t anything like that and a lot of the churches don’t have a children’s choir so I thought this might be a great opportunity,” said Starling, who moved to Milford from the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area. “After talking to different people who had been in the community for a long time I got that reinforcement.”
Thompson-Payne agreed that there was a void for children’s music in Milford.
“One of the things we noticed was that the number of kids in chorus was either in school or church and there was nothing significant in the community as far as being in a community-type of chorus,” he said. “That’s what we wanted to change.”
Starling said that while there is no pressure to pass an audition and they try to keep everything upbeat, she and Thompson-Payne do expect their young performers to be committed to attending weekly rehearsals and to their concert performances.
 “It’s fun, but it’s serious,” she said. “We try to give them good vocal training and we work on breathing and proper diction and posture. I try to integrate that all at one time so it’s not like it’s let’s learn a song and then let’s teach them how to breathe. We try to integrate all of those things into the songs that they work on.”
Ciera Stevens-Brittingham showed up early and ready to go for last week’s practice.
“I like it because it lets us sing and have fun,” she said. “I just like singing.”