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Oakland Youth Chorus

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Children & Youth, Singing & Choral Groups, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Oakland Youth Chorus unites diverse communities and transforms young people’s lives through excellence in music education and community performance. OYC offers school and community based music and choral training programs for East Bay children and youth. Through our elementary in-school programs, after school Miracle Choruses, Middle School Choruses, and our advanced Concert Chorus and Chamber Singers ensembles, OYC brings access with excellence in music instruction and community building performance opportunities that increase confidence, community engagement, musical skills, and creativity. OYC was founded in 1974 to nurture the musical talent of Oakland’s youth. Since then, OYC has grown from a single community youth chorus to a comprehensive youth choral music education organization serving hundreds of singers each year. OYC trains youth in a varied repertoire, supporting artistic diversity by providing programs that reflect and contribute to the cultural richness of our region. OYC’s young people develop close friendships across lines of race, class and culture, multicultural respect, and a lifelong love of music, changing lives and our world through the power of the human voice.

Results: Dynamic concerts of world music and Broadway’s greatest hits, connecting across the Bay to support the San Francisco Boys and Girls Club, the Gap Foundation, and Pier 39, and singing for some of the East Bay’s finest arts and social service organizations to celebrate their work and support our community through lifting our voices together: in the 2013-14 season, the Concert Chorus did it all! The performance season began supporting two very special organizations, helping them to celebrate milestones of their own. We lent our voices to the dedication of the new SF Boys and Girls Club Clubhouse at the GAP Foundation, and showed our love for all families in singing for Adopt a Special Kid’s 40th anniversary celebration. December was very special for the Chorus, as we were the voices for Oakland Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker with the Oakland East Bay Symphony- collaborating with organizations we treasure singing with! The spring brought us into an exciting new collaboration with a group of men who became dear friends to OYC through our joint performance of Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass in April. Our experience working with the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus inspired our singers, and in the rehearsals one of the singers’ grandmothers’ was heard to remark that history was being made with our joint performance of that work. For OYC, it meant doing what we always do: discovering the common love of music and creating new friendships and understanding of others while we sing together. Miracles’ report card (K-5): During the 2013-14 season…. 99% of singers learned songs from different countries. 90% increased confidence singing in front of others. 89% learned to read music. Over 80% performed in a concert. 91% of K-2 students could maintain a steady beat independently. 89% performed rhythmic patterns with accuracy, and 85% matched pitch. 90% of 3-5 singers accurately matched pitch for complex melodic patterns. 86% matched complex rhythmic patterns. Miracle singers supported Relay for Life, Super Stars Literacy, holiday tree lightings, workshops at the Oakland Public Libraries, and community events in recent seasons, contributing to the vibrant life of their communities through song.

Target demographics: OYC serves children and youth ages 5-19 in Oakland, Alameda, Richmond, and reaching throughout the East Bay.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 650 singers in the 2014-15 season

Geographic areas served: Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

Programs: OYC produces two professional choral concerts per year for all of our singers, performs at Bay Area community events, and tours locally, regionally, and nationally. OYC’s current in-school and after-school vocal and general music training programs reach children in 15 Oakland, Alameda, and Richmond schools and community based sites.

Community Stories

17 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wonderful organization for kids, parents and music.

Amy_307

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Darbi H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 4

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.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Robin B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Shoshanna T.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

1

Client Served

Rating: 4

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.