Berkeley Parents Network
Google Custom Search
Home Members Post a Msg Reviews Advice Subscribe Help/FAQ What's New

BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website! Read more, and see how you can help: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org

Pacific Boychoir Academy (Oakland, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > Pacific Boychoir Academy (Oakland, CA)



Oct 2014

Our son recently began 4th grade at Pacific Boychoir Academy, and we couldn't be happier with it. He was in a public school before this but he wasn't happy there. His grades were good but he found it to be uninspiring, stifling, and full of the stereotypical social divides (e.g. ''jocks'' vs. ''nerds''). We were getting calls and emails from the principal and his teacher nearly once a week. It was rough. We knew we needed to make a change. We looked at several other schools in the area and seriously considered some of them. Then we heard about PBA. Our son sat in on classes twice and we met with the faculty and other parents, which convinced us that PBA was the right place for our son. So far it has proven to be. The classes are small. The education is more hands-on, as opposed to the worksheets and rote memorization he was doing in public school. And the music aspect has really helped our son to self-regulate—better than any other thing we've tried. Our son isn't especially musical, and that was a concern of ours. But the school assured us that a boy doesn't have to be a prodigy to thrive in the choir. What they emphasize in the choir is wonderful: self-discipline, poise, and effort. These lessons are already taking root in our son. Best of all he's happy. He comes home excited about science or PE or a project they're doing. He talks about school, he's making friends, and he genuinely likes it. PBA is a very special place and we can't recommend it enough. Anon


Sept 2013

Re: Which Schools Use A Best-for-Boys Approach?
Based on my son's experience I would not recommend the Pacific Boychoir Academy. Although we thought they'd be boy-friendly because of the ads we saw, there has been nothing about the school to suggest to us that they understand boys' issues. The biggest problem for us has been that everything revolves around singing. The rehearsal, performance, and touring demands do not leave time for things like sports, musical instruments, theatre, or outdoor activities. There are plenty of music instructors, but the school does not have a counselor or a learning specialist so boys with learning differences or attention problems do not get the type of learning assistance they need. Academics have been consistently secondary to the singing. Parent


Dec 2012

Re: Seeking excellent music program for 8 year old
You didn't say whether your 8-year-old is a boy or girl, but if he's a boy, you should really consider the Pacific Boychoir Academy (off Piedmont Ave in Oakland). It's a world-class music training and performance institution, with music integrated into the day school curriculum. The boys learn music through the most fundamental instrument--the voice--which lays the groundwork for musical achievement on any instrument and in any style. Plus, the academics are stellar--art, sciences, languages (Latin! Who learns Latin anymore?!). Really a gem of a school. Fan of PBA


Aug 2012

Re: finding a choir for my musical 7-year-old
It's great that you're looking at all the local children's choirs. If your child is a boy, he'll have a wonderful time at the Pacific Boychoir Academy, http://www.pacificboychoiracademy.org/after-school Ask about their financial aid program. PBA has a happy, kid-friendly outlook that draws out extraordinary music from the boys.

If your child is a girl, the San Francisco Girls Chorus has an East Bay program (rehearsals at Crowden). PBA after-school parent


Jan 2012

PBA is like no other school around, as in the only one of its kind west of the Mississippi. It is a once in a lifetime experience for you and your son, with an A+ music program and an academic experience that will soon, and in good part already does, beat any of the best around. Come see; you'll never regret it!

It is also a world-class boy choir performing right here in the Bay Area. Two upcoming concerts are 30 March: American Music, including American Spirituals! (1st Congregational in Oakland) and an ''Urban Cathedral'' concert at Rock Wall Winery in Alameda (TBA, but likely first days of May.) TN


Oct 2011

Re: School for socially anxious 9-year-old with ADHD


My son is now 11 and was diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, and anxiety when he was 7. It was getting worse in 2nd and 3rd grades. We were in a private school in San Francisco that boasted 2 learning specialists per grade and 2 counselors - he did not thrive and in fact, became more anxious and lost his self-confidence. Last year, we decided to commute to Oakland to have him attend the Pacific Boychoir Academy. My son enjoys music and singing and this environment has changed everything for him. Since we started there, he is so much less anxious just due to the supportive environment, small class size, and attention he gets. The musical aspect of the school has also had a profound effect on helping him stay calm and focused - he has come alive through music. He has been taking medication for ADD for years, but finally the days of tutoring and struggling over homework are gone - he's happy and motivated. The issues he used to encounter daily have disappeared. I know from experience that it's worth looking at many school options to find the absolute right one - I'm a believer that it's about environment - identify what makes him anxious (numbers of kids, pace, different interests, need for praise, etc.) and then look for a place that really addresses what he needs - it's worked for us. I've found that small classes, creative programs, and individualized attention go a long way for kids with ADD and anxiety. I'm happy to share more about our situation. kts
Oct 2011

The Pacific Boychoir Academy is an amazing, one-of-a-kind middle school that has changed our lives and been transformational for my son. Our son is a current 5th grader and joined the school last year in 4th grade. We were looking for excellent academics with small class sizes and an engaging, experiential approach with individualized attention to accommodate learning differences. We also wanted an environment that fostered self-confidence, responsibility and personal achievement. Wow - the Pacific Boychoir Academy has provided all that and so much more. Our son enjoyed singing before joining the school but wouldn't have necessarily chosen to sing classical music or study music theory on his own. Studying music, singing in other languages and being exposed to all types of music has definitely had a positive impact on his academic achievement and motivation as well as love of music and performing. His self-confidence has blossomed and he came home from a three-week tour to the Baltic States with a new appreciation for the life he has and the deep cultural traditions and history of other countries. What an experience! He has built new social and team skills and is proud to be part of an award-winning boychoir where everyone counts and everyone contributes. This is a school that anyone should consider for their son - don't let the music education part cause you to pause if your son hasn't done it before - you won't believe how this makes such as difference. We commute from a distance to attend this school and feel so fortunate to have found such a perfect fit for our son. kts


Oct 2011

We enrolled our nine-year-old son in fourth grade at The Pacific Boychoir Academy (PBA) last year, and he loves the place. It is positively electrifying for him, as well as for us, as we have witnessed his personal growth and academic success, and we have marveled at the music that comes from this school choir.

PBA is a young and growing independent school that was founded in 1998 with six boys, and it has quickly established itself prominently with more than 160 boys and young men, ages 4-18, in seven choirs. It is the only choir school on the West Coast. PBA has earned Grammy awards and accolades in the press. The school has one of the lowest student-teacher ratios for independent schools in the Bay Area, and it is a member of ERISA. Today more than 50 boys attend the day school, and there are all kinds of boys. Financial assistance is available and all are encouraged to apply. No previous music experience is required.

Our son had a transformative experience as a fourth grader. He was given opportunities that all PBA boys are given, to contribute and succeed. He performed with symphonies and other choirs, and he traveled with the Troubadors and staff to Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, for a three-week summer tour, performing on a rigorous schedule, and he loved it. His first words to us at the airport after this trip were, "I wonder where we're going next year!"

This school builds a boy's self-confidence, develops a sense of pride in doing well, and stirs an interest in taking on difficult assignments. The boys learn that they can do anything they want to do in life, if they are willing to work, to cooperate with others, and participate in something that is important. Each boy contributes, using his particular strengths, to produce a tremendous outcome. The bonds of friendship grow while in school and learning and performing music. For example, on Monday evenings, all the Troubadors eat dinner together with the staff during rehearsal.

The teachers are extremely well educated and hold extensive experience in teaching and interacting with this age group, and they are acutely aware of how boys learn. Active, hands-on approaches are favored over passive, sedentary ones. A great deal of thinking goes into creating the academic and music programs for these five years, from ages 9-14, which are critical for personal, social, and academic development. Music is one way that a boy's success is leveraged into his academic career. For example, the staff integrates areas of study, such as music and math. Also, history comes to life as students consider the times of great composers. Upperclassmen participate in a Shakespeare play, drawing upon the confidence and presentation skills used in musical performance.

The small group of teachers works tirelessly and selflessly, and they are exceptionally skilled at what they do. They care deeply about the boys, and they get to know each boy individually. The eighth grade graduation is handled exquisitely, where every graduate is recognized for his particular strengths, individualism, and achievements. The teachers inspire my confidence in them to teach, to serve as role models, and to help our son grow into a young adult. The students are in great hands. We are relieved to have found a school where smart people teach students well, creatively, and mindfully, with concern for their lives after they complete eighth grade. After one year, PBA has earned our complete trust and respect. Probably the most gratifying thing is that these boys are happy while they are challenged to learn, and that is perhaps PBA's greatest asset and reason to celebrate. Amy M.


Oct 2011

Re: East Bay School for Boys - reviews

It's great that you're exploring single-gender school options - in the late-elementary and middle school stages it works really well for many kids, as your daughter's Julia Morgan experience must show. I'd strongly recommend looking into the East Bay's first all-boys school, now well established and flourishing in its lovely new campus - the Pacific Boychoir Academy, a Grades 4-8 EBISA school. Since you asked specifically about high school placement, I'll give a summary of that aspect of the PBA. My son is a recent grad, who, like many of his classmates, was accepted into all the high schools to which he applied. He chose to go to College Prep and is doing very well there. Among independent schools, Athenian and College Prep are the most common choices made by PBA grads; those who choose parochial schools go to St. Mary's, O'Dowd, and St. Joseph's, and I know one is at De La Salle; the most commonly chosen public schools are Berkeley High (the IB program is popular) and Oakland Tech (Engineering or Paideia).

The PBA is not a conservatory - it's a school that blends academic and musical education so that each enhances the other. In the process it has created terrific students and a world-class choir, and gives its middle-schoolers a dimension of excellence and professionalism that simply isn't available at other schools. All PBA boys know what it takes to produce something that's of a quality acceptable to MTT at the SF Symphony (they wouldn't have got those Grammys otherwise), and this becomes their approach to all of their work. They represent their country internationally on great stages, so they learn to interact beautifully with people from all cultures, of all ages and backgrounds. Moreover, they get an extraordinary first-hand knowledge of history and geography - in the past three years my son and his classmates have visited Soweto, Tiananmen Square, and the Kremlin! Crucially, the boys learn how to manage their time so that they can do their academics, music, and sports well and still have time left over for Facebook and other such necessities of teenage existence. The benefits last beyond high school - many PBA boys write their college application essays about their experience in the choir, and some have said that this unusual aspect of their application was a big factor in their receiving early admission into selective East Coast colleges.

The PBA gives its boys a truly unique and transformative experience. That the school can do this starting with boys who have little or no formal musical training has always astonished me. But they do it, year after year.

Please take a look at the PBA website www.pacificboychoiracademy.org and click on the Facebook link near the top - the FB page will quickly give you a sense of the community and of what the boys are up to on a day-to-day basis. The first Open House of this season is on Sunday October 30. Best wishes for your school search! Satisfied parent of PBA school grad


If you are considering the East Bay School for Boys, I'd recommend that you take a look at the Pacific Boychoir Academy. This amazing and growing middle school - 4th through 8th grade, is a top-notch place for academics, building self-confidence, responsibility, and sense of community. You may be asking, ''But my son wouldn't choose a music school, what if he's not a musician?'' That shouldn't be a deterrent to look at this really special school with small class sizes, individualized attention and the opportunity to learn music, travel the world, and become part of an award-winning boychoir. We know that our son will stand out in high school and college applications based on the incredible experiences he's been a part of singing with the SF and Oakland symphony and traveling to Russia, China, and around the world. I can't tell you how often I hear from other parents that they never would have thought that this would have been as perfect as it is for their son - regardless of initial attraction to music or not. There are parents at the Pacific Boychoir who also have experience with the EB School for boys - feel free to reach out and I'm happy to connect you. There's an open house on October 30th and November 10th - stop by if you can and you'll hear some amazing stories from parents and their boys who've left all kinds of excellent schools to come to PBA. Katy
Sept 2011

The Pacific Boychoir Academy is truly the most hidden gem in the Bay Area. I urge any parent looking for a life-changing experience for his or her son to explore the Pacific Boychoir Academy without reservation.

Where else can a 10 year-old boy enjoy individualized attention from an engaging and highly accomplished teacher, travel the world performing with a Grammy-winning choir, and build the confidence and sense of responsibility well beyond his years? There isn't anywhere that does this like the Pacific Boychoir Academy.

The school delivers on its promise to educate, nurture, challenge, and provide an unparalleled opportunity for its students to be part of something truly world-class. What PBA offers will prepare my son to attend the high school and college of his choosing and more importantly approach life with the sense that anything is possible. kt


August 2010

My son is only 9.5 and is entering 4th grade in Fall, but I am already looking into middle schools, preferably with a good mix of science, humanities and arts. I appreciate your suggestions and any info you could provide!

I called Pacific Boychoir Academy, and we ended up having an audition for him and they seem to be very enthusiastic to have him there, right away. Our intention was to keep him at his public school for at least another year, but they tell me (and I see their point) that it would be best for both them and my son to start there asap.

My son likes musical theater.A lot.He's been in a great public school where he had a lot of exposure to music and stage performances, and has been taking piano since K. He's no Mozart, but likes to play. According to PBA, he has a good voice. After his audition there, he said he'd love to go there.

I haven't had a chance to look at any other middle schools yet, so I am reluctant to commit to Pacific Boychoir Academy before I know more. Seemed like a great school though, although it's rather new and I see just a handful of Berkeley Parent Network reviews of it. Thank you in advance for your feedback!


My older son has been at Pacific Boychoir Academy for two years, and he is very happy there. We have been happy with it also -- academics are very strong and presented in engaging and creative ways. There is a lot of hands on learning - for example, last year while studying ancient Egypt, my son mummified a pigeon! At the same time, he also learned how to write an effective research paper, including footnotes and bibliography (a skill I must admit I didn't master in sixth grade.) Classes are small, the music education is first rate, and the boys sing VERY well.

Musical theater is not the main emphasis here, although the boys did get to be part of a professional production of Oliver! last fall, and individual boys have performed roles at the SF Opera in the past. Most of the performing opportunities are choral, but there are many opportunites to perform, and the types of music vary greatly. Over the course of a year, the choir might appear with the SF Symphony, sing the National Anthem at a ball game, perform with a Jazz band, or sing on local TV. Because the school is small and all the boys sing and tour together, they really form a team and support each other across the age spectrum. liz


Both my sons have attended the Pacific Boychoir Academy School, the older one just graduated in June, the other will be in 6th grade. They both started there in 4th grade and I can't say enough good things about the school. As far as I am concerned, PBA has more than proved itself as a superior academic institution providing my kids a unique opportunity to excel in both academics and music--a subject that is so sadly lacking in most schools. They get to be, no joke, one of the best in the world at something, which is a huge source of pride for both of them. My oldest son was heavily recruited by the private high schools in the area. Nancy S.
Jan 2010

The Pacific Boychoir Academy is an amazing day school for 4th-8th grade boys. My 4th grade son is currently attending, and his academic performance and attitude towards school have significantly improved as a result. The boycentric curriculum, outstanding teaching staff, phenomenal choir program, and small class size have been integral to his improvement and success. The program is very engaging, academically rigorous, stimulating, and creative. Participating in the choir provides real life, cultural, and professional experiences, focus, and discipline. Additionally, PBA offers an impressive afterschool program. I highly recommend the school for boys with an interest in music and singing who thrive in a small class size environment. Please feel free to contact me with any program questions. 510.387.1705 Suzanne


Oct 2009

I want to highly recommend the Emmy Award winning Pacific Boy Choir Academy to all Bay Area parents. I have two children who have attended this school for the last 3-4 years respectively and I cannot stop glowing enough about their results.

This is a small school with only 30-40 students attending Grades 4-8. The boys get a lot of individual attention and in- depth instruction from a small, carefully picked, excellent teaching staff. I am constantly amazed at the rigorousness of their instruction, which results in a wide ranging depth of knowledge in the boys. Whether it comes to Math, Biology, Geography, English, History or a Foreign Language, the boys are encouraged to excell and in large part they actually succeed.

Equally amazing is the boys' comprehension and discipline when it comes to music. It is well known that musical experience broadens the mind, exercising their left brain/right brain synergy in a way which does not happen in public schools. I am certain that the boys' excellence in math is to a large extent enhanced by their musical capabilities, by being able to sight- read musical scores and by mastering rhythms.

The boys also get to travel to foreign lands, as well as domestically, discovering different people and carrying American culture overseas. So far their trips have included concerts in Australia, Argentina, Hungary, Italy, Canada, Denmark, etc. etc.

More information about the Pacific Boy Choir Academy can be found at www.pacificboychoir.org. Andrew


August 2009

BPN Advisors: I have a very musical 3 year old toddler (he turns 4 in late September) who sings non-stop and has an uncanny ability to remember lyrics and sophisticated phrasing. I'm DELIGHTED that he's showing this talent, and I'd like to expose him to some sort of organized group to see if he flourishes even more. Wondering if anyone has recommendations on a parent-friendly (read: not too time/practice-intensive) organization/choir/group that fosters young songbirds. Thanks in advance! Mom of the next singing wonder


Your son sounds perfect for the Prelude group of PBA, the Pacific Boychoir Academy, http://www.pacificboychoiracademy.org. The website is fun, and you can get to the Prelude page via ''Boychoir Program'' and ''Our Choir Ladder''. Prelude is for the youngest guys starting at 4 years old, but boys sing at PBA all the way through high school. Watching the older guys is a great source of inspiration for the younger boys, and at concerts it's wonderful to see the progression from fidgety adorable kindergarteners to ultra-cool high school seniors. The atmosphere is happy and fun-filled, and the community is inclusive and diverse. There's no pressure to practice at home but the quality of the senior groups is stunning. My son is 12, has sung with PBA in 3 continents, and has had his life completely transformed by the experience. Welcome!
Sept 2009

I would like to second the recent recommendation of the Pacific Boychoir Academy, Gr 4-8, just north of campus at LeConte and Scenic. In addition to a terrific math program, already glowingly reviewed, they have an outstanding writing program. In 7th grade my son learned to write well beyond the level of strong high school freshmen. I think PBA may be the only local middle school where all students study three languages in addition to English (German Gr 4-5, Spanish Gr 6-8, Latin Gr 7-8). German helps the boys sing Bach, and Latin is not a dead language to them because they sing in it regularly. The Latin course covers the same texts as in first-year Latin at College Prep. In the last few years, PBA graduates have been accepted into the following local high schools: Athenian, Bentley, Berkeley High, Bishop O'Dowd, College Prep, Head Royce, Maybeck, Oakland Tech, and St. Joseph's.

The music has an astonishing way of focusing the attention of the more fidgety boys, and it is a joy to hear the choir perform Spirituals a cappella or sing with orchestras as varied as the SF Symphony (listen to them on the recent recording of Mahler 8!) and the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra (holiday jazz concert at Yoshi's on Dec 17!). There are few schools like PBA in the world, because PBA gives every student the chance to perform on world stages. Just last summer, PBA sang with the Soweto Gospel Choir at the Regina Mundi Church in Johannesburg. That kind of opportunity has a unique effect on the boys' understanding of the world, and on their motivation in all spheres. ''Transformative'' is the word most commonly used by graduates describing their PBA experience. One of them said, ''I learned that I could be the best in the world.'' After all, PBA's first ''follower'' on Twitter was the Vienna Boys Choir!

PBA is non-denominational and includes families of all backgrounds. It is the best-kept secret in East Bay children's education. Your elementary school boy doesn't have to be a brilliant singer to be admitted - if he can match pitch and clap a rhythm, PBA will teach him how to bring out his voice. Open Houses are Oct 20, Nov 18, and Jan 7, but you can visit any time. Call Jim Gaines, Head of School, (510) 849-8180. -- Delighted parent of PBA 8th grader


April 2008 Re: Creative Welcoming School for 6th Grader?
Joan, Have you considered visiting the Pacific Boychoir Academy in Oakland? A middle school for boys in grades 4-8, the academic curriculum is designed specifically for boys, applying approaches such as Levin's ''One Mind at a Time'' and Gurian's ''Minds of Boys.''

The boys not only graduate and move onto schools such as College Preparatory School, Bishop O'Dowd, Athenian and Bentley, but they become some of the word's best singers for their age.

For more information you can visit http://www.pacificboychoir.org/academics.html Best wishes, Fernando


Sept 2007

Re: Children's or girls chorus My son has been with the Pacificboychoir Academy for 7 years and loves it and they have great teachers that are very motivating and nurturing and practice positive discipline. Choir mom


August 2005

In Sep 2004 a new boys school opened in Oakland: the Pacific Boychoir Academy. We were one of the ''pioneer families'' that signed on. My oldest son had been with the afterschool program for 4 years at that point and absolutely wanted to be in the day school.

The school is currently teaching grades 4-8, with the option for earlier grades coming soon. While there are the standard academics, languages, art & PE, there are 2 big differences to this school:

1) Over 2 hrs of music daily : music theory, repetoire, history, and sight reading. The boys are part of the larger choir (the after school program) but progress so fast and have such a solid grounding in their music that they become natural leaders of their sections.

2) The school is geared toward boys, and boys who sing. The staff ''speak boy'' and plan plenty of physical b! reaks during the day when boy energy can be dissipated to make classroom time more effective. The staff understand and celebrate boys and their energy, and channel that energy into a purity of sound that can break your heart.

Visit www.pacificboychoiracademy.org for more info, or contact me via email for more parent perspective. Nancy


Feb 2005

Re: Chorus for 5-year-old boy
My son participated in the Pacific Boychoir Academy for 5 years, just retired recently at age 15 because high school is so much more socially demanding and he's choosing sports instead. I heartily recommend the PBA, they are very professional and my son learned an incredible amount of music theory and vocal technique. He travelled with them to Australia/New Zealand, to Austria, to Italy, this summer to Prague; again, very organized and supervised. This year's summer trip will be to Paris. Not cheap. They are opening a school (hence the 'Academy' part of the name) similar to the American Boychoir and the Cathedral School over at Grace Cathedral in SF, so they can travel and still get schooling as well. My boy retired once (and later rejoined)when his voice changed, but now they have enough 'graduates' to have formed a Changed Voices group that sings tenor/bass parts with the 4 part trebles/altos. The repetoire for boychoirs is pretty religious (duh) but they get a beautiful sound out of the boys and the boys just love it. Bonnie


Re: Singing lessons for 5 year old boy (Sept 2004)
I do not have a recommendation for a private teacher but would like to give you an idea for a few years down the road. The Pacific Boychoir Academy in Oakland, which won a Grammy with the SF Symphony last year, is an amazing organization with incredible teachers. My oldest son has been with the choir for 4 years and has just made it to the international touring level. He has developed his voice, of course, but there is much more to it than that - he has developed in a million other ways that are attributable, in my eyes, to his choir endeavors. My youngest just started in February as well. We are not musical ourselves, so this is a fantastic gift and wonderful community of people with which to be introduced to choral music. Please see http://www.pacificboychoir.org/ for more information, and good luck. Nancy
Home   |   Post a Message  |   Subscribe  |   Help   |   Search  |   Contact Us    

this page was last updated: Nov 9, 2014


The opinions and statements expressed on this website are those of parents who subscribe to the Berkeley Parents Network.
Please see Disclaimer & Usage for information about using content on this website.    Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network