My daughter started with OYC at age 4. She is adopted and has had so many struggles but she has stuck with OYC and now she is a chamber singer at 14. It has given her a home and self esteem. Her teachers have coached her and loved her and it’s a part of her. Now her little brother is a singer he followed her and at 2 was singing the songs in the wings and was ready to take his spot in OYC. Ms. Rhonda and Ms. La Nell have been roll models and second mommas! They have supported me as a single mom and it is truly been a gift for our small family!
My daughter is now 9 and has been in chorus with OYC since she was 4.5, and it has not only increased her self esteem but been a positive thing our whole family has participated in. As a single mom they have worked with me in so many ways to make chorus a possibility for her and now her 4 year old brother! He has adored learning the songs and being involved and now he is truly a member! We love it and wish we could do more to support the organization financially!
OYC has served my family for the past 4 years. And I'm also a regular donor.
This organization has grown with my son. They embraced him when he was a hyperactive kindergartener who literally tap danced through the holiday concerts. Then a couple years back when their entire Spring repertoire was food-themed, so our whole family got hooked on some of those whimsical, ear-worm arrangements. "Kiwi, kiwi, kiwi! Banana, papaya. I've got a lovely tropical fruit drink..." And recently, they've adapted to the circumstances of the coronavirus shutdown. We are so grateful for the expert music instruction and training via Zoom, along with the routine and social interaction.
More importantly, this organization provides music regardless of singers' backgrounds, schools or neighborhoods. My kid gets to learn the discipline and teamwork required to make music, along with children across the city and East Bay. The funny part is we discovered OYC only because it's offered in our school's aftercare program. Lucky us!
I always donate what I can because our public schools are so limited by tight budgets, and because working artists need regular jobs to continue to create, and because music makes a difference in the lives of children.
Our daughter has had a wonderful experience with OYC. Her choir director is amazing and she loves going each week to sing with friends and learn new music. This has been her first experience with choral singing and we weren't sure if she would be into it, but she loves it! I think this is due to the welcoming and fun environment OYC creates for their singers.
Our son is a third grader, at an elementary school within the districts served by OYC. Since he has always loved to sing, while growing up, we suggested he try glee club/chorus as an after-school activity. After the very first meeting and practice, he reported being excited to be involved. We have noticed he likes to practice his songs for us, even at home. He very much enjoys the opportunities to perform in public. His teacher and director, Ms. Keri Butkevich, has kept him interested with her personable nature and funny stories. As parents, we have appreciated her attentiveness to occasional concerns we have raised. Also, during the Covid-19 outbreak, she has kept the children involved by organizing online rehearsals, in small groups, which breaks up the monotony of being stuck at home. Overall, we are very glad he joined and feel it's been a great experience, as well as a fair value for the costs involved.
I first heard Oakland Youth Chorus perform in the early nineties prior to moving to the Bay Area. I was a young musician and had the opportunity to hear a friend guest conduct a new piece of hers, featuring OYC high-school aged singers. I was blown away. The performance, and the immense talent of the young singers, made such an impression, that later when my son began to show interest in music and singing, I was glad OYC was still around nearly 20 years later! He is now an active member of OYC and through dedicated rehearsal, practice and performance, has steadily improved his skills. OYC has played a significant part in his musical development and he even experienced his first choral tour to New Orelans earlier this year. The organization, administrative staff, and amazing teachers, are a gift to the Oakland community. I am proud to be part of the Oakland Youth Chorus family.
I have been working with Oakland Youth Chorus for a few months now and they are amazing! Sid, Keri and the rest of the crew are outstanding, dedicated and beyond knowledgable. From giving out information to performances, this group never lets me down and is my go-to for all of my organization's events! Please support OYC in anyway that you can :)
My son has been a member of the Oakland Youth Chorus since 2013. I cannot stress enough how glad I am that a friend of ours suggested that he go check them out. He began in the All City Miracles with Miss Rhonda Crane. Through her instruction and gentle guidance he was able to go from being a kid who just sang around the house, to one who really began paying attention to honing his vocal skills. He moved on last year to audition for Miss La Nell Martin, and gained entry into the Concert Chorus. He loves their attention to detail and expanded
repertoire. His experience with fundraising for their tour to New Orleans in April 2016 was a invaluable. Being part of Oakland Youth Chorus has enriched my son's knowledge of music theory and performance, that I expected. It has also given him a sense that through hard work and dedication he can achieve success, not only in chorus, but in other areas of his life, and for that I am grateful.
My child's elementary school in Richmond has our glee club administered by the Oakland Youth Choir, and it's fantastic. First of all, their style of teaching music is call-and-response, so as they are learning theory, they are also able to perform and learn very quickly. In addition to our weekly rehearsals and school performances twice a year, we are invited, whenever we are available, to join other schools who are learning the same songs across the East Bay to performances at community events. So the kids get to be part of this amazing larger community, all wearing their purple shirts. My kids are still small so it's all new to them, but when I look at the older students who have been singing together for 10 years and are soon to go off to college, I am floored with the emotion and the connection through music. And they sound absolutely amazing.
Mills College Children's School has been partnering with Oakland Youth Chorus for several years now. They provide dynamic, experienced music teachers who come to our classrooms and teach students about choral singing and percussion, and they organize performances for our families, too. They have been a wonderful addition to our arts program!
I have continued to be impressed by the work of Oakland Youth Chorus, and its commitment to reaching young people in the local community. I attended last year's holiday concert and was moved to tears by their high quality presentation. The youth seemed to enjoy themselves and were so well-trained. Also, I loved watching the choral teachers encourage the youth backstage. Their interaction seemed warm and genuine. If I was a young person, this is the kind of group that I'd want to be part of.
Oakland Youth Chorus partnered with us at Youth Radio this year on the piloting of our new digital media and technology workforce program by taking on an intern for the summer. OYC's staff and leadership showed, and continue to exhibit, deep commitments to improving the lives of Oakland youth through arts education, personal and professional development. Our sincere thanks go out to the small but mighty team at OYC for genuinely engaging our community on so many levels!
Former '80-'81 OYC member here, hadn't heard the choir in years and last Christmas 2011, as a birthday treat from my mom, my 2 pre-teen daughters, 75 yr old mom and I secured the last few tickets available to the holiday concert at First Presbytarian Church in Oakland, (where we had practiced way back then). I was first of all overwhelmed by the packed sanctuary that I walked into, secondly entertained by the long and diverse holiday program all these children and directors had prepared, and thirdly, as my repeated appreciation goosebumps and tears came forth through so many of their songs, their young voices and message was very touching. I am thrilled to see this urban city choir still being supported beautifully through all that goes on in life. Family and community support shining Oakland pride for sure!
I decided to join the board of Oakland Youth Chorus for a number of reasons—let me count the ways! I am a teacher and school administrator professionally, and OYC is serious—and seriously fun—not only about performance excellence; it also provides a hands-on musical and cultural education that students take with them as they grow up. The love for the craft of teaching and engaging kids is truly evident at each rehearsal. My own formative musical experiences—Cleveland Orchestra Children's Chorus, Yale Gospel Choir, my folk-singing uncle—also resonate with how I see OYC impacting its youth. Last but not least, I get to hear the concert chorus voices echo up the church stairway during meetings, and witness the joy in my own daughters' faces as they sing together walking home from school or at bedtime. I'm so glad OYC is here for them—and for all of our young singers—and I'm lucky to also get to play a part!
My son is in his second year at OYC's elementary school-aged Miracle Chorus. He has learned wonderful songs, in language, from all over the world: Ghana, Japan, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Israel. The kids are also learning to read music and practicing with rhythm. It's amazing what Rhonda Crane is able to teach such young children in a single semester. OYC is a very happy and fulfilling part of my family's life.
I work with OYC at Think College Now Elementary School. Ms. JJ gets the students excited about music by playing games and teaching them new things. I know the students love the music program because I hear them humming the songs in all their other classes! This program also opens them up to learning about new cultures that they wouldn't otherwise learn about.
I have had the unique opportunity to experience the Oakland Youth Chorus in three very different ways, as a former funder, a board member and as a parent of two children who are singers. As a funder I was always impressed by the organization's professionalism and positive work in the community. When I began serving on the board my children were not old enough yet to sing in the chorus but I wanted to support an organization that was providing such a valuable service. Now that both my kids are chorus, my ties to the organization have become all the stronger as I see the positive affect the program has on them. I expect to be involved with OYC for many years to come!
OYC is providing an invaluable resource to the Bay Area with its strong musical programming, leadership opportunities for youth, and overall sense of ethics and social justice. OYC demands dedicated practice and performance from the youth, from tiny preschools on up. I've shot pictures of the singers in rehearsal and was impressed with the musical standards and the personal attention paid to each student. Standards are high; make no mistake, which gives these students a vision of all that they can be. OYC is a GREAT non-profit serving the needs of individuals and the community with high standards and a strong vision.
OYC is doing an excellent job with the students at St. Martin de Porres School in Oakland. This year they have provided our school with two music teachers who are working weekly with our students. Each Monday, I can hear our students singing and it gives me chills! They sound great, they are really engaged, and they are receiving great music instruction. Thanks to OYC, we are developing the musical talents of our students! Ann Magovern, President of St. Martin de Porres Catholic School.
I have many friends who went through this program when they were teens back in the 80's and when my daughter was old enough I was proud to have her join the choir. OYC provides much-need support for Oakland Youth, giving them a place to spend their time and energy, and focusing them on an idea that is bigger than them, at a time when it is easy to forget the needs of the world around you. When my daughter was singing with them, she was exposed to the compassionate outreach to young children in public schools with little to no musical education, she sang at fundraisers and events supporting other non-profits, and committed her time and energy to a goal greater than her own teen mind could have conceived. As an adult, she now speaks passionately and persuasively about the value of musical education for children, understands the connections between the individuals efforts and the group well-being, and really sees the value in investing in a diverse educational experience for children everywhere. OYC takes something fun and lets it teach our children to be compassionate AND passionate about their beliefs. I love OYC. Thank you for all you have done for our family!
My 8 year old started oyc since she was five. So it's been three years . She loves it and I love it too! All the staff and music instructors are beyond awesome. My daughter I don't think will have stage fright. Thanks oyc for making my daughter shine.
My six-year-old started with Oakland Youth Chorus when she was just four years old because she was exposed to OYC early and said she wanted to sing with them. Knowing that OYC typically starts at Kindergarten, we told her that she'd have to wait. My wife and I were thrilled that the choral director encouraged (ok, insisted) that we bring her to OYC anyway. She was immediately welcomed with open arms by MIss Rhonda who teaches the All-City Miracle Chorus, and she has learned so much in these past couple of years. We are thrilled with her musical progress (she's now taking piano because OYC instilled a love of music and learning), love hearing her sing songs from different cultures and in different languages around the house every day and we are continually blown away by the talent of all of OYC's singers at their annual concerts. We look forward to many, many more years being a part of the OYC family.
I was introduced to OYC by my daughter who sang in the chorus throughout elementary school. She had such an outstanding experience and I was blown away by the quality of the singers at the concerts. I was happy to join the board of this organization that works hard to bring choral music to children throughout Oakland and surrounding communities. The economic downturn has hit arts nonprofits hard and I am so proud to be part of an organization that continues to fulfill its mission despite big funding challenges. Our Executive Director, Keri Lindell Butkevich, joined us in June 2012 and she is outstanding! Come to a concert and see for yourself why Oakland Youth Chorus is so special.
Oakland Youth Chorus has been a shining star in the City of Oakland. As a grassroots organization this chorus has managed to remain an example of community, talent, and hard work even while the city hit headlines for much less desirable news. The kids are always well-prepared, manerable, and consistentely sound like professionals. It is hard to believe that such a magnitude of musical excellence comes from a community choir. As a long time follower and supporter, I have known youth to continue with their musical paths while in college and beyond. This small organization, led by a phenomenal musical director, makes a lifelong impact on supporters and participants alike.
My daughters are 11 and 14 and love being a part of this organization. The younger one is part of the All-City Miracle Chorus and my older one is part of the Concert Chorus. Both of these groups rehearse at the Oakland Unitarian Universalist Church. I got us involved because of its proximity to our house and convenience, but we will be staying because of the teachers and program. My kids are singing with wonderful teachers leading them. The teachers really care about inspiring kids to have an everlasting love of music and singing. They are learning songs in different languages and from a variety of cultures. The groups are welcoming to kids of all ability levels and ages but push the kids with more experience to be even greater. My 14 year old has sung with many different groups, but she loves this one and is invested in it because she feels respected and appreciated in this group. I can't wait for the Winter Concert on December 15th. It should be amazing.
I was in the Oakland Youth Chorus when I was in my second year of college in 1998. It was the most challenging and exciting musical experience I had experienced to date. The music we learned was exceptional, the director was motivating and inspirational, and the group of volunteers were helpful and encouraging. I wish I lived closer so my children could participate!
Oakland Youth Chorus responded with amazing speed and resources after my school reached out to them about bringing their program to our students. We have been amazed by their ability to provide high quality services and how resourceful they have been about securing funding to make their work possible. The staff, both direct service and administrative, are very responsive and easy to work with.
I have two daughters who participate in the Oakland All-City Youth Chorus. They've been playing instruments for a couple of years. Adding OYC to their repertoire has added a crucial key to their musical journey. Their teacher gives them not only vocal and theory lessons, but she puts the history behind the songs into perspective, which allows the children to put real emotion and expression in their performance.
For children who haven't sang before, working in unison with other kids is invaluable. The Oakland Youth Chorus builds self-esteem and provide a one-of-a-kind experience.
Oakland Youth Chorus provides inner city children from the Bay Area's poorest neighborhoods with the opportunity to learn to sing with a large group of similarly situated children. With budget cuts affecting music programs in all schools, this is one of the last chances for underprivileged kids to experience the beauty of making music. And that they do: they are wonderful to hear and experience.
OYC is an excellent program for children in the Bay Area. They are trully providing an outlet for children to learn in a safe environment. OYC is at the center of Oaklands heart.
My daughter became involved as a part of the group when she was quite young and sang as a part of the chorus from 1987 to the present (she is now part of the old-timers or graduates group). She also got a chance to travel to Jamaica and Japan when the group was able to afford to travel overseas. Many of her fellow singers are still her valued friends. She also was able to work with many skilled musicians who were her teachers while she was part of the chorus. It has been real pleasure seeing the growth of these young people and to see how this experience has helped them to grow and thrive. This is a community asset which should be treasured and nourished for the City of Oakland.
I was a member of the Oakland Youth Chorus as a teen, from 1986 through 1991. The group provided a brilliant musical curriculum, as well as giving me many close friendships which have lasted to this day. I returned to work for OYC from 1998 through 2006, and the son who was born that year is now in OYC through the expanded programs they now provide in elementary schools! As arts programs are being slashed in the schools, it is wonderful to know that kids still have access to a good choral program with an extremely flexibly tuition schedule.
OYC has made a tremendous difference in my daughter's life! She has aspergers and social networking with neurotypical children and teens is not always easy for her. Singing in the OYC choirs has given her a real sence of acceptance. She ahs been in OYC since 5th grade and is now a senior in high school. She has even recieved a special award as OYC cheerleader!
Our son is a kindergartener in an Oakland Public School (Chabot). We signed him up for an aftershool chorus class last fall not knowing what a fabulous organization we were going to get to become a part of.
Oakland Youth Chorus is well run, spirited, and inspirational, giving children something big to be a part of from their first day. The concert performances display an impressive range of hard work, talent and commitment. It's also great to see children of all ages singing together.
Our son's self confidence and knowledge of music has grown tremendously over the year. It's truly been a pleasure.
Keep up the great work OYC!
In spite of the dramatic drop in public funding, this agency forges ahead in its commitment to provide music education and ensemble opportunities to kids who want this option but cannot or choose not to participate in more classically oriented choruses. It boasts a corps of professional, performing artists who teach and mentor participants at school sites. The all-city middle and high-school choruses are vehicles not only for a musical education, but present an opportunity for students from all parts of Oakland to work and learn together. OYC has been around for 35 years and has been credited with providing a life changing experience for thousands of Oakland school children. It could use an infusion of new energy and vision, to bring it current with the needs of children who have limited access to this low-cost program and to cultivate the continuing, active support of chorus parents, chorus alums and the general community. OYC has the potential to make a significant difference - it needs folks to know about it and to care.
Participating as a member of the Oakland Youth Chorus was one of the greatest experiences of my childhood. It gave me the experience and confidence to pursue a career in music. It also provided a great opportunity for developing community, especially among at risk kids. It is a wonderful organization that kids can participate instead of staying at home playing video games or getting into trouble.
I have attended Oakland Youth Chorus concerts over the past six years. When I see these children perform, it is evident to me that the alumni and music teachers give them 100 percent in teaching and mentoring them. I can feel the love and support of the parents and extended family when I am sitting in the audience.
On a personal note, I have seen some of the kids transition from being not so sure of themselves into becoming very self-confident and thus helping to develop their self-esteem.
Thank you for this review! We would love to have programs in more schools in OUSD - it is more a matter of balancing what we can do well as a small organization to ensure that all of our singers and their families have the highest quality experience we can provide. Being able to expand responsibly to reach additional schools and children, especially those who otherwise lack access to music education, is a goal we are working toward one school at a time!
Oakland Youth Chorus is amazing! As a lifelong musician and music educator with experience in arts administration, I have seen organizations of this type from many sides, and I've never seen an organization quite like OYC. A top-notch administration inspires well-treated and respected educators to provide a high-quality product to a LOT of happy clients. The students deliver truly fabulous performances in a polished, well-oiled setting, giving them not only a solid musical education, but unforgettable performance opportunities that set the bar high for self respect, responsibility, and professionalism. In a city where schools have lost most if not all funding for the arts, OYC comes to the rescue of vocal music, drumming, and dance and fills in that gap.
OYC is wonderful. My daughter's been a part of it for years. They have energy, passionate teachers, terrific diversity of musical selections ... and anyone who loves to sing can participate (talent optional!). The concerts are always fabulous. One of the gems of Oakland!
Our daughter has been a member of the Oakland Youth Chorus for the past eight years. During that time she has become a confident young woman and performer and a competent musician through her experiences with OYC.
The Oakland Youth Chorus taught as part of the after-school program at our daughter's elementary school. She studied for four years with an outstanding teacher who during this time, instilled in our daughter an appreciation and knowledge of music.
During Middle School and continuing into High School, the Oakland Youth Chorus has continued to foster development and growth in their singers. They provide them with a solid, well-rounded program, regular performances with the entire chorus, and most importantly, performance and competition opportunities throughout the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. Through these events, the singers have continued to learn more about the professionalism that musicians must embrace, as well gaining experience in performing before different types and sizes of audiences.
The real strength of the program at this level though comes through the Chorus Director. She not only prepares her students for performances and other events, both musically and professionally, but she leaves a lasting impression on her students in terms of life's lessons. She is a compassionate teacher and mentor who supports her students through all of their ups and downs, both musically, and personally. In Middle School and High School there are plenty of "ups and downs" that these busy teenagers encounter. Through it all, the Director demonstrates patience, and a firm, but loving hand of guidance. These teenagers are better for having been in the Oakland Youth Chorus.
The Oakland Youth Chorus has been serving the East Bay Area since 1974 providing music education, performances, and tour opportunities for children and youth ages 5 -24. I joined OYC in 1975 and cannot express how profoundly it has affected my life. I gained choral music education, performance confidence, and, most importantly, lifelong friends with whom I still sing as a member of the OYC Alumni and various other groups. I am now a member of the Advisory Board and have served as the Alumni Association President for over a decade.
The Oakland Youth Chorus provides an incredibly educational and nurturing environment with teachers who are, themselves, professional music and dance performers and many are former OYC members. They provide an inclusive experience for elementary school children who are then able to advance through the Middle School and Concert Chorus levels. Many of the OYC choral students have become music professionals and all profess the value of this experience.
I think that an organization that can evolve over 4+ decades deserves recognition for its continuing success.
They bring music to hundreds of children who would otherwise get no exposure to this curriculum. They do not dumb it down or only do what's popular. These kids get classical, jazz, spiritual and world music. They sing in multiple languages and learn about the world.
My daughter sang with Oakland Youth Chorus for 5 years. The leadership is wonderful and inspiring. They teach a very diverse range of Oakland youth who learn how to make wonderful music together, but I the Chorus leadership also has a strong sense of integrity and a moral base of what are good ways to live and they teach that in many different ways to the children.
Oaklnad Youth Shorus is a wonderful program for children and teens that have a passion or any level of interest in singing and performing. My daughter is a former member of the Middle School Magic and now participate in the High School chorus team. Both groups have won several awards under the leadership of LaNell Martin. Since the time my daughter has been invovled in OYC, her vocal skills have noticeably improved, as has her confidence to sing in front of others. LaNell is fabulous and works so well with the kids. She really takes the time to bond with each child and meets them at their level, which I think helps to alleviate any pressure or stress on the kids. Overall, its a great program and I recommend it highly.
Oakland Youth Chorus has been a blessing for us! My daughter and all her friends love the program! They get to learn about different cultures and languages through songs that they sing and almost without noticing they develop a sense of relatedness to the rest of the world, people and even nature! I cannot praise their teacher and all the teachers that are involved in teaching and organizing the seasonal performances - they radiate their love for children and for singing creating an environment that is welcoming and educational for all! The teachers have an undeniable talent and a pedagogical approach that works and makes the program stand out in its creativity, inclusiveness and high standards - we were completely amazed at the world class level of their singing!
My daughter joined the OYC All City Chorus about a month ago. She enjoys singing with children her age and older. The instructors are very child-centered and supportive chorus leaders. The teaching environment is comfortable/non-pressuring , the instructors do very well at guiding the children through the music material and keeping the children on task with kind and supportive redirection. I love that Mrs. Rhonda listens to the needs of the children and provides a space for them to share their interest and singing talent. The children learn how to breath, sit with correct posture and use their voice as instruments. The music material often has a theme for each performance and the children find the tunes fun to perform. The OYC staff are very organized and communication is on-going about the chorus schedule, hosting other choirs and performances. The OYC is diverse group and provides a rich learning community for enjoying the art of singing and building positive relationships. WIth so many music programs cut around the bay area; it is so wonderful and inspiring to have the OYC program still going strong since the seventies. I travel from Hercules every Tuesday to support my daughters music interest and can't think of a better organization around that I would entrust to support my daughter. With gratitude and appreciate I respectfully submit my perspective.
My daughter is a participant in Oakland Youth Chorus' All-City Miracle Chorus and this organization is TERRIFIC! The teachers are fantastic and all come together to create a wonderfully diverse repertoire for these children to learn. They learn classical pieces, jazz, spirituals, world music, oral tradition songs, contemporary songs, etc.
I recommend OYC to everyone I know with a child from kindergarten through high school.
I'm very impressed that several on staff over the years have been former OYC singers who come back to the organization to teach or be on staff. A testament to what a wonderful organization the OYC is.