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Choral Impact Survey from Chorus America confirms the good work OYC and other choirs do!

Read the full study HERE


•  Children who sing in choruses have academic success and valuable life skills.

•   Children who sing in choruses get significantly better grades in school than kids who have never been part of a choir, according to their parents, and substantial majorities of parents with children in choirs say their child’s ability or performance in English/language arts, mathematics, and academics overall improved after their child joined a choir.

•   Parents whose children sing in choirs are significantly more likely to report that their child has many other qualities conducive to learning and development than parents of children who don’t sing, including, among others, good memory, good practice and homework habits, and high levels of creativity. Sizable majorities of member’s parents credit joining a choir for achievement in these areas and more.

•   Parents of children in choirs are significantly and consistently more likely to report that their children are better team players and have more advanced social skills than parents of children who’ve never participated. An overwhelming majority of these parents date improvements in these areas to when their child joined a choir, and also say their child’s ability to manage his/her emotions and/or read the emotions of others improved after they became choral singers.

•   Educators—drawn widely across disciplines in our sample—are even more emphatic about the positive role that choirs play in childhood education and development. Large majorities of educators, often 80 percent or more, agree that choir participation can help make students better participants in groups, help develop stronger social skills, lead to better emotional expression and management, improve overall academic performance, help instill self-discipline and punctuality, and more.

•  More than three-quarters of educators surveyed say they can tell which students in their classes participate in choirs, with more than half of these saying they can “always” or “often” tell. And more than half of all educators say they’ve recommended chorus participation to students or to their parents.

•  In addition, vast majorities of educators believe choirs help schools and communities in a variety of other ways, for example, that choirs can keep some students engaged in school who might otherwise be lost, help make students more active participants in school and more likely to attend classes in general, help get students more involved in their communities, and add to the overall sense of community in schools.

•  While the arts and sports are often pitted asrivals for scarce school resources, parents say their young choristers are significantly more likely to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities than other children.

Do you have a child in OYC? Did you sing with OYC when you were younger? How has being in chorus positively impacted your life?


Former OYC staffer, Sheena Johnson, joins the Hewlett Foundation as Performing Arts Fellow

Congratulations to Sheena Johnson, OYC’s former Fundraising Coordinator, on her new position at the Hewlett Foundation!


MENLO PARK, Calif. – The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced today that Sheena Johnson has joined the Foundation as a fellow in the Performing Arts Program for a term of two years.

A dancer choreographer, Johnson has broad experience as an administrator in the Bay Area arts community, most recently as operations manager for the Zaccho Dance Theatre in San Francisco. Between 2009 and 2010, she was the fundraising coordinator for the Oakland Youth Chorus, worked in marketing for the Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and worked with CounterPULSE’s Performing Diaspora festival. She is the artistic director of her own dance company.

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Swarthmore College and an M.F.A. from Mills College. She began work at the Foundation in June.

“We are thrilled to have Sheena join our team,” said Director of the Performing Arts Program John E. McGuirk. “Her experience and passion will be of great benefit to the Foundation’s ongoing work to engage the Bay Area in a diversity of arts experiences.”

About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development and population, performing arts, and philanthropy, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. A full list of all the Hewlett Foundation’s grants can be found here.

Part Time Choral/Vocal Music Teachers for 2013-2014 School Year

Part time School Choral/Vocal music teachers sought for 2013-14 school year.

About OYC
Oakland Youth Chorus provides a multi-cultural music education and performance program for children and youth, fostering talent, confidence, and community. Since 1974, OYC has served the Oakland community with quality choral instruction and music education that celebrates the diversity of the region, promoting cultural connections and understanding while pursuing musical excellence. Oakland Youth Chorus provides developmentally appropriate, sequential, comprehensive instruction for singers aged 5-25, starting with our elementary school and All–City Miracle Chorus programs, and moving into our school based Middle School Choruses and All-City, award-winning, auditioned choirs for middle and high school youth. (Concert Chorus, and Chamber Singers).

Position Summary
OYC seeks part time choral instructors for fall 2013 openings in Oakland and Alameda. Chorus Teachers report to the Artistic/Education Director and work closely with students, on-site personnel, and other staff, teaching the fundamentals of vocal and choral music to elementary children in various after school programs. Our programs connect with world cultures, focus on musical skills development in alignment with the CA State Standards for Music Education, and support student learning across disciplines. We seek teachers with strong vocal and piano training and pedagogical backgrounds. One position will include middle school instruction and possible accompanying of the Concert Chorus. The other position will be focused on elementary students grades K-5, with a primary focus on K-3. Successful candidates will have a history of developing successful new programs as part of an arts organization and recruitment for elective classes.

• Teach vocal and choral music using OYC’s multicultural model to elementary-aged children
• Develop and implement curriculum based upon OYC/State standards
• Teach music from a variety of cultures aligned with OYC curriculum
• Attend regular staff meetings, retreats, and trainings as required
• Build relationships with Principals, parents and students through participation in on-site performances and events
• Participate in all production meetings leading up to annual all-OYC concerts in December and May
• Prepare students to participate in school and OYC concerts and events • Attend OYC concerts, monitoring elementary children during performance
• Disseminate and administer evaluation tools
• Complete time sheets and other administrative paperwork in a timely fashion
• Implement student attendance sheet procedures

➢ Experience developing lesson plans for music classes
➢ Demonstrated ability to teach music to young children (K-5) and middle school children (6-8)
➢ Knowledge and appreciation of music from a variety of cultures
➢ Strong classroom management and student engagement in various settings
➢ Bilingual in Spanish a plus
➢ Demonstrated commitment to working with diverse groups of youth and adults.
➢ Passion for OYC’s mission and the services we provide.
➢ A high degree of commitment to artistic and educational excellence
➢ Degree in music or music education with a choral background preferred
➢ One position may require a valid CA teaching credential
➢ Certification in Kodaly, Orff and/or other music education methodologies preferred, willing to incorporate them with OYC training necessary
➢ Reliable transportation to school sites.

How to Apply
Interested applicants should email cover letter, resume, and three references in response to this posting. No phone calls please. Compensation commensurate with experience. Oakland Youth Chorus is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate based on race, color, creed, gender, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, gender identity and expression, domestic partner status, age, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, veteran status, or any other unlawful consideration. We encourage people of color and LGBTQIQ people to apply.

Lovely Spring Event this past weekend!


We could not have asked for a more beautiful spring day for OYC’s Spring Benefit event at the home of Merry Ross and Patrick Zimski, who is a new board member.  They are the parents of Phoebe, a member of OYC’s Concert chorus (pictured below right, upper right)

Supporters who came to the event were treated to terrific food provided by El Paisa Taco Truck and got to hear OYC’s wonderful Concert Chorus sing a few numbers that they will be singing on their tour to Seattle at the end of the month.

girls sing  Maraena-Soukey-Phoebe

In conjunction with this benefit event, Oakland Youth Chorus has an online auction on Ebay with rotating rounds of items and services through April and May. We have wonderful things like a one-week stay at a condo on the Oregon Coast, autographed San Jose Sharks hockey puck, a commemorative SF 49ers football, theater and live music tickets and much, much more. All funds raised support our programs as we do our best to ensure our classes are accessible to all students.

Check it out here and please forward this link:


Event goers included Oakland Youth Chorus alumni, like Katy, pictured below with OYC Artistic and Education Director, La Nell Martin. Katy was in OYC in the late 80’s and it was great meeting her and hearing about her time in OYC. It’s always so special for us to meet former OYC singers. Keep in touch with us by liking OYC on Facebook and by contacting La Nell at


Rhonda Crane with Chabot Elementary chorus singers

CLICK HERE TO READ CNN Schools of Thought article

This article speaks so clearly to the goals of our programs and mission here at Oakland Youth Chorus. I would like to use this piece to highlight and celebrate the work of some very important and dedicated members of our team- our teaching staff in our Miracle Chorus programs that model and exemplify the core values and professional musicianship we work to instill in our students. I hope you will join me as we head into spring concert season in acknowledging and celebrating their professionalism, talent, and excellence as role models for the 600 singers we serve.

Work hard and it pays off – Our teachers are not accomplished professional musicians in their own right because they took an easy path. Managing your own gigs, founding ensembles, balancing and organizing complicated teaching, rehearsal and performance schedules in addition to the attention to their artistic growth requires them to not only be wonderful musicians and kind teachers, but highly organized small business owners as well. It was doing this work as a singer/actor/conductor/teacher for the first 21 years of my career that prepared me for the juggling required as an Executive Director- and our teachers transfer and model this focus and attention to detail in their classes with joy and grace.

La Nell Martin with Concert Chorus

La Nell Martin with Concert Chorus

Make it happen- Class enrollments fluctuate, children get sick and miss weeks of instruction, a key to a room needs to be found, piano keys are stuck, someone forgot their music- the list of things that our teachers encounter each week in the classroom requires them to be incredible in-the-moment problem solvers, and within this they make art happen and provide not only a quality learning experience, but memorable expressions of beauty each hour they spend with our singers.


Work with others- Working within an organization like OYC, where our teachers are mostly off site with children and very infrequently have planning and meeting time together as a staff requires a special person to be highly effective, and staff members who shine are those who proactively communicate with OYC staff at all levels. While “my door is always open” to all of our OYC community (and I encourage you to call or schedule a time to talk with me about your joys and questions as a member of our community), it is often difficult in their demanding schedules for our teachers to come to the office.  They resourcefully let me know through calls and emails- even texts- when their students are performing, how things went if I can’t attend (and I never can as much as I would like to!), and I love hearing about their personal performances, and seeing the songs and exercises they’re sharing when I get the opportunity to visit classes. I hope over the next year many of you will join me in seeing not only the results in concert, but the preparation as well!


Michelle Jacques with her Kaiser Elementary chorus singers

Michelle Jacques with her Kaiser Elementary chorus singers

Be responsible for your workComplete responsibility can be hard. It means making the phone call for coverage when there’s an accident on the highway on your way to your third or fourth site of the day to be sure our kids are safe. It means being prepared for classes, handling concerns and requests promptly, bringing issues to supervisor’s and my attention before small issues develop into bigger problems- and always bringing the best of what you have to give to your work. It requires a maturity in responding and addressing constructive criticism for areas of improvement- something that can feel very personal to all of us, but especially important to model well for our children in an organization that stands for continued learning, supporting academic aspirations, and developing leadership through excellence in music education.  I’m both proud and grateful to lead an organization where even the teacher who works with us one hour a week makes this level of responsiveness a matter of personal integrity and pride.

ImageFrom OYC Executive Director, Keri Butkevich

Do you have a story of appreciation about any of our current or past teaching staff? What life lessons did you learn in music class or here at OYC?  Share your story in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Zumba event was a great success!

The Zumba-thon was really fun and amazing.  The OYC singers and their supporters were rockin’ it.  Seattle here we come!
Isabella Schear, Concert Chorus singer

Zumba-Phoebe, Satya, Ramona, Aubrey_sm

Smiles were all around the room at First Unitarian Church of Oakland on Saturday, March 16 as the high energy dancing took off. Instructor Anita McClintick kept the Zumba routines fast paced and fun for novices and experts alike.

During intermission, attendees were treated to a video about the singers’ highly anticipated trip to Seattle – the reason for this fundraiser – and the singers in attendance grinned in excitement. Through the singers’ ticket selling efforts, OYC was able to raise over $700 in support of Concert Chorus’ tour.  Way to go, OYC!

It is obvious that these teens are excited about their upcoming trip and thrilled to share the experience with people they care about greatly.

Did you miss our Zumba event? Want to support the singers’ tour and OYC programs in general? Join us for our Spring Benefit on Saturday, April 14 by purchasing $30 tickets HERE.

We are also seeking online auction items and services, and beverage and dessert donations for the spring event. Please email if you have something to contribute or can help us reach out to others in the community.

What a fun way to jump start my workout intentions and fundraise at the same time! I had SO much fun doing Zumba for the very first time!
Ramona Smith, OYC parent

arms up-group_sm DCIM100SPORT

Contributed by Mary Beth Spencer and Angela Dant

Concert Chorus singer given Women Who Dare award

We are so proud of Concert Chorus singer, Maraena Spencer Yochelson, who was named one of six Women Who Dare in Alameda this past weekend by Girls Inc. of the Island City.  Maraena organized the first Suicide Awareness Day campaign at her school and through her church leads social justice workshops for youth across California.

Maraena Spencer Yochelson

Maraena Spencer Yochelson

Maraena is in good company with Teri McKeever, CAL swim coach who was the first woman to be named head coach of a US Olympic team, and others.  Way to go, Maraena!

Read more about it in the Alameda Journal HERE.