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Choruses with Reviews
My 4.5 year old seems to be very interested in classical music and opera. Wondering if there is some type of a choir she can join or group singing lessons she can take. Lisa
I've seen the archives, and recommendations for children's choruses in Walnut Creek, Piedmont, Oakland and SF...but we're in N. Berkeley. Are there any close to us? Does Julia Morgan have any singing opportunities for a 6 year old girl? Or UC? Or a local synagogue (do synagogues have children's choruses?), or other? Thanks for any tips... heidi
Can anyone recommend, in Berkeley/Albany/El Cerrito, a beginning chorus group or a good place for voice lessons? My daughter is 9, she doesn't have a great voice (yet) so will need instruction and can't ''try out'' for a chorus (yet). Due to heavy time constraints I can't drive her SF or Walnut Creek. Carrie
I was wondering what options there are around Berkeley for a children's or girls chorus. I have heard about the Kairos youth choir and will check it out, but I also remembering hearing once about an East Bay Girls Chorus, that maybe practiced at a church in Kensington....is that still around? Any others? Thanks for any leads.
My 6.5 year-old son has been saying for months he wants to learn to sing opera. He loves listening to arias and has also recently expressed an interest in the piano, but we don't have a piano and can't afford to buy one... I need recommendations because I come from a family of music appreciators who don't sing or play any instruments...
What is available in terms of singing instruction in the Berkeley/Albany area? I know there is a great chorus in Piedmont, but we don't have a car, so closer is better, but of course if there's something great a little further away, I want to be flexible.
I'm open to various possibilities in terms of vocal instruction for my son: classes appropriate to the age group, or even possibly getting him together with a couple of other similarly aged kids and hire someone good to give them lessons (thus splitting the cost and making it affordable).
My friend, who is a singer, told me to look into Kodaly-method instruction, and I'm open to learning more about that. Thanks! Sara
A good place to start is the weeklong summer camp (Choral Festival) in late June that is meant to include kids from outside the Choir. It's about $175 for the week and scholarshops are availible. Go to www.kairoschoir.org for more info. Mom of a songbird
Does anyone know of any choruses/singing groups that accept five year olds? I have a 5 year old who loves to sing, and sings all day long, but I have not been able to find any group or chorus which accepts 5 year olds (besides the Crowden school one- regarding which the timing does not work for us). Thanks. Singer's mom
My 8-year-old daughter will audition for both the Piedmont Children's Choir and the East Bay Division of the San Francisco Girls Chorus this month. I have no doubt that she will be accepted into both and would like to know as much about each before making a decision. Opinions or info regarding any and all aspects of the choirs will be greatly appreciated as we want to make the best choice for her.
I don't know anything about the Piedmont Choir--I have a feeling once you join either one you are too busy to learn about the other! Often in San Francisco
My daughter went through the training department, from beginning girls 1 to advanced girls. Upon her promotion to the performance department she had to choose between chorus and soccer--the increased time commitments of both activities would have been too much. She learned so much about music but more importantly experienced that sense of joy common to all choral singers of being a part of something bigger than oneself, something that is impossible to do on one's own. Teamwork, precision, responsibility and commitment, and FUN also come with the territory. For the performing groups, the opportunities are phenomenal. There are tours and camp every year along with the regular performances. Every couple of years or so Piedmont Choirs hosts an international children's choir festival where the choirs all join together to make such joyful music--their signature piece is ''Sing all ye joyful'' commissioned of Kirke Meachem. One note of fair warning: Maestro Geary loves contemporary music and the top performing levels sing a lot of commissioned pieces that are wonderful if sometimes a bit strange! Good luck with your decision. Jody
In general, I would characterize the Piedmont Choirs as more laid-back, less serious, more "just for fun." The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) is a rigorous program, where students will really learn a lot about how to make quality music and be involved in the very sophisticated music scene of San Francisco.
I grew up in schools where people were in both choirs. Here are some of the things I noticed:
The girls in the SFGC felt that singing was one of their passions. They were very involved, very committed, and loved going to rehearsals and being with their friends at the SFGC. Chorus was "their thing."
Because the SFGC is in San Francisco, and because the top groups are much better than the Piedmont Choirs' top groups, often when there were major events happening, SFGC was asked to sing. For example, I participated in the UN's 50th anniversary commemoration, two SF mayor's inaugural events, a World Cup (soccer, of course), sang for the soundtrack for a major movie with Robin Williams, etc.
One thing that I think is important to note is that Piedmont choristers are rarely involved with the San Francisco Symphony or the San Francisco Opera. In contrast, SFGC choristers sing with these organizations almost every year -- the SFGC choristers were even on the recordings that won a Grammy for the SF Symphony! I can tell you that being in operas with the SFGC was so exciting -- going to the choreography/staging rehearsals, waiting in the wings to see stars like Denise Graves, putting on my costume, and getting my make-up put on each time, interacting with the opera company singers - are memories I cherish. I think that from these events I developed a lot of my self-esteem and confidence. Although I wouldn't have been able to describe it at the time, I thought to myself, "Look! These organizations want me to sing! They value me!"
Another important thing to notice -- SFGC is, of course, solely for girls, while Piedmont Choirs are co-ed. I know that I felt I developed very close relationships with my friends in the SFGC. Especially as I was becoming a teenager and social groups were splitting off into boy/girl factions, many girls at the SFGC became very important to me socially. I'm not sure if that would have happened (or not) in a co-ed environment.
I was very grateful that the SFGC provided me with continuity within the organization: the SFGC allows their students to be fully involved until they are 18. Maybe this has changed, but while I was in elementary and high school, I watched as my peers in Piedmont Choirs had to dramatically curtail their involvement when they became 14 or 16 (I'm not sure which). The SFGC provided a constant for me through the elementary/middle/high school transition.
Another major difference: SFGC (to me) has a much more diverse pool of singers. Piedmont Choirs do have students from many areas, but I would say the majority come from Piedmont/Oakland/Berkeley, and many families are very wealthy. In the SFGC, geographically, singers come from all over -- from some ridiculous number like 50 cities in the Bay Area! Socioeconomically, about 60% of the SFGC choristers are on scholarship. While the concept of diversity may be important to parents, I know that as a young girl in the SFGC, I began to learn how so many of my chorister friends had lives so different from mine, in terms of the kinds of schools they went to, their various family situations, their different cultural backgrounds.
One thing that the top groups in the Piedmont choirs do have is that they tour almost every year to a foreign country. Yes, I was jealous that my Piedmont peers got to go more often to different countries. However, any musical group can pay to have an organization set up tours for them in different countries. Piedmont Choirs do this every year so that they can have their top students go to different countries. SFGC choristers go on tour also (most recently, to Japan in 2005, and they will go to Korea summer 2007), but when they do, it is because they are participating in a prestigious world-wide conference of some type. For example, when I went to Italy with the SFGC, it was centered around being invited to sing at the world-famous Spoleto Festival (a huge honor).
SFGC girls simply have better musical training. We sing more complex pieces with more depth and nuance. SFGC choristers are trained and well-prepared to take on more challenging music! After having regularly sung in so many different languages, to try to pronounce something in, for example, any Romance language, was not frightening to me -- I just remembered all of those songs we had sung in that language in chorus! In rehearsals, we looked at the translations of the pieces we were doing, and tried to understand the poetry of the lyrics, and how to best express this (this really helped me with my critical thinking development). SFGC girls are well-prepared to take the AP music theory exams, and several of my friends are now professional opera and pop singers. I know that in college, when I was singing extracurricularly, I had no trouble getting into the groups I auditioned for: when I told people I had been in the SFGC, that carried a lot of weight, and people knew that I had been trained to be an accomplished musician.
Lastly, I know that being the in SFGC helped me get into the schools I wanted to get into. To many colleges I sent one of the CDs produced by the SFGC that had my voice. I was absolutely sure that any music professor evaluating SFGC CDs would come away with a positive impression of my musical aptitude.
Well, I hope that that gives you a good low-down on SFGC versus Piedmont Choirs. Clearly, I owe a lot of my personal development and success to having been in the San Francisco Girls Chorus, and I hope my passion comes through! Good luck.
I'm looking for an alternative to the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Something not so rigid and all-consuming. Are there other singing groups for girls in the East Bay? Anon
I have a 5 year old kindergartner who has a lovely voice and LOVES to sing. Does anyone know of a class/group/chorus appropirate for this age. . .the ones I have seen are all for older children. Thanx. Lisa
My daughter is 6 1/2 and she sings beautifully. I'd like to know what would be an age appropriate way to encourage her, and have her develop that talent. I saw a posting about a choir for children and would like to check that out. Any other advice or suggestions regarding classes/teachers would be much appreciated. Thanks. Christie
The age range is 5 to 18, I believe. They have solo voice lessons and offer an opera, too. From what I've seen, the teachers are talented and great with the kids. Many of the kids go on to careers in the arts. They also have a theatre arts camp in the summer.
If you're looking for voice lessons or a chorus or the experience of opera for your kids, I would highly recommend this. Their number is 925 945 7101 colleen
My just turned 5yo son has been singing with the SF Boys Chorus for a few
months, but it doesn't seem like the right place for him. He adores music and
sings constantly, but he's too wiggly and playful to enjoy rehearsing for
performance. I'm looking for a chorus or singing group that will be fun,
introduce him to lots of different music (rather than just perfecting a few
songs) and not try to teach him to sit still and sing like a professional (which is
a nice goal, but way beyond him). Any ideas? It seems that most choruses
(Piedmont, Kairos) start kids a bit older, more like 6 or 7, and with good
reason. Is there a mellower alternative out there for kids 4-7 who love to sing?
P.S. I checked the website, and despite a similar query earlier this year, there was no useful info.
Piedmont Choirs has a great training department that mixes music education, singing, and fun. The beginning level conductors understand the fidgets of kids and incorporate it into rehearsal. There is rehearsal time devoted to music theory (kids move at a self-pace with support). As they progress through the levels in the choir, the children are expected to grow in their concert behavior, but perfect concert behavior is not expected in the Training Department. The young gentlemen are always a hit at concerts.
My two daughters have been singing with the choir for 5 and 3 years. One entered in the Training Department and one entered in the Performing Department. The choir has given them a good education in theory, intervals, sightsinging, and a continued love of music. Both are in the Performing Department at this time and traveling each year. They are meeting other young singers from all over the United States and the world. It has been a fantastic experience for both of them.
I don't know how old your son will be in September when the choir begins rehearsals. I believe that in some cases, the choir may relax it's age requirement, but you might want to check with Judi Fabrizio in the choir office (547-4441 x304). There are usually auditions in June, September, and January for entry into the choir. Terry, Piedmont Choir Parent
For the church, I direct a ''y'all come sing and make music'' class on Thursday afternoons from 5-5:45 p.m. We sing lots of simple songs, rounds, play percussion instruments (drums, scrapers, wood blocks, shakers, resonator bars, boomwhackers), dance, practice attentive listening, turn-taking and encouraging creativity. Most Thursdays we spend some time with solfeg (do-re-mi) and ear- training (it's so fun, the kids don't know it's music theory). Our age range this year was from 4-85, I think, with the group mostly consisting of kids aged 4-10 and their parents. AND, we are taking a break for the summer and will begin meeting again the Thursday after Labor Day. There is no charge for the class, and we are a ''come as you are, Unitarian Universalist or not, religious or not, and play'' kind of group. Process over performance.
Process, process, process is also the focus of Kindermusik classes, which do a great job of preparing K-1 kids for more formal music training (like a children's choir) without being intimidating. This summer, I'm offering a five-week class, ''Adventures Around the World'' (visit a different country each week), for 4-7 year olds on Tuesdays beginning June 28th from 3:30-5 p.m. Like the ''y'all come sing'' class, we sing a lot, play many different kinds of percussion instruments, dance, play games, practice attentive listening, and turn-taking. Unlike the ''y'all come sing'' class, the age range is restricted (activities are more specifically developmentally focused) and students need to register ahead of time. This creates a different group dynamic, and may be better for some students. Class size is limited to 8, so there's a lot of individual attention. There is a charge for Kindermusik, $115 includes materials, a cd, 2 instruments. I will also offer semester-long classes for 1.5-3, 3-5 and 5-7 year olds in the fall. Please see my website http://MVMusik.com or http:// kindermusik.com.
The church does have a Children's Choir, which is on summer break, returning the Thursday after Labor Day, but I suspect it may be too performance-oriented for you (for now). We rehearse on Thursdays from 6:30-7:15 p.m. and perform roughly once a month in Sunday worship services (10:45 a.m.). There is no fee to participate, but children must register in advance (contact the church office for a form, 525-0302). For more information about the UU Church of Berkeley or Unitarian Universalism, please see http://uucb.org and http://uua.org.
About me, I teach because I believe music changes lives for the better, and is essential in early childhood. When we make music with other people, we learn valuable skills for living: listening, turn-taking, imagining, connecting, and communicating effectively. We also learn to be more at home in our bodies and sensitive to our emotions. We become more fully human. To teach is my privilege and one of my greatest joys.
Thanks for reading. Michele
I'm interested in recommendations for children's choirs near N. Berkeley. Our criteria are that the cost is minimal and that the atmosphere is fun and non-competitive and low pressure. I'm also curious, do any of the public schools in Albany or Berkeley have active choirs for elementary aged kids? alisa
I believe that the age range is 8 to 14 year olds. The director, Shanti, is very sweet with the kids and is teaching them how to read music and basic elements of musicianship. They perform at a variety of events (from opening day of the El Cerrito Baseball season to senior centers during the holiday season to a concert at the end of each semester). My ten year old girl LOVES IT! I also think that compared to other choirs in the area, this choir is more reasonably priced. Shanti's # is: 843-7745, or her cell is 387-2051 sms
If you have a girl (or a boy and you're looking for something a little closer than Oakland), the Crowden Community Music Center (at the Crowden School near North Berkeley BART) has a program on Saturdays that includes a chorus at 9:30am. This is about as low-pressure as one could possibly hope for, but it is geared (right now, anyway -- this may change next year) toward kids aged 5-10. If your kid is older or younger than that, they might be either a little lost or a little bored. CCMC, too, has a strong scholarship program for their Spring semester. (But not, I don't think, for their Fall one.) If you have questions, please feel free to email me. Betsy
I need some recommendations and input into the various kids' choruses in the East Bay. Can anyone speak to the differences or strengths and weaknesses of the SF Boys Chorus; the Pacific Boychoir; the Piedmont Choruses and the Kairos Chorus. (I checked the website already). My son is only five and I'm looking for something that is fun, above all, but also high quality musically. He ''auditioned,'' on a whim, for the SF Boys Chorus and got in; now we need to decide whether to do it or not. rachel
The Kairos Youth Choir provides a superb musical education and the exhilarating experience of performing beautiful, complex choral music. Kairos choristers, boys and girls ages 7 to 15, study choral music from the finest traditions of classical, gospel, world folk music and musical theatre. Each year, choristers learn to sing in at least five different languages. They learn a lot, not only about music, but about presentation, self-confidence, and teamwork, and they enjoy themselves thoroughly in the process. Kairos (Greek for "the fullness of time" ) was founded in 1990 by Laura Kakis Serper, who has vast experience directing children's choruses, including the San Francisco Girls' Chorus and the San Francisco Boys' Chorus. (She is currently the Director of Choral Music at The Crowden School and at the Graduate Theological Union, Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.) The non-denominational Choir has appeared in many community, civic, and cultural events including singing for the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Berkeley Opera, and the Hard Nut with the Mark Morris Dance Group. Kairos Choristers come from well over a dozen different East Bay schools, and the children form a unique bond with each other. The Choir meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:15 in North Berkeley, 2401 LeConte Ave. (There is also a High School group called Kalones which meets only once a week). You can call 849-8271 for more information, or go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KairosFriends to be added to the email list for announcements, events and auditions.
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