FAQ

What is the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir?
Do we have to live in Piedmont to join?
How old does a child have to be to participate?
Is this a church-based choir?
Why pick a children’s choir over other activities?
Is voice training at such a young age healthy for my child?
How is this choir different from a school or church choir? Can my child have as good an experience in a church or school choir?
Where and when will my child perform?
My child can be sensitive. Is this going to be too stressful on her? What if she says she doesn’t like it?
How do you get in?  Are there auditions?
How much does it cost, and do you have scholarships?
What’s the time commitment?
What am I responsible for, as a parent?
Can we go to a rehearsal or attend a performance before joining to see if we like it?
My question isn't listed here. How can I find out more?

What is the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir?

We are an award-winning nonprofit children's choral organization started in Piedmont and now based in Oakland, California, celebrating our 30th year of providing young people from across the East Bay with top quality musical instruction and performance opportunities. The Choir currently enrolls upwards of 350 students in 13 separate choral groups organized into three divisions: Kinder, Training, and Performing Departments. Groups meet once or twice a week in late afternoons or early evenings for rehearsals, and participate in frequent concerts, workshops, and collaborative performances with other notable Bay Area musical organizations. More advanced groups may also tour, go on retreats, and attend summer choir camp. Click here for a more detailed overview of the Choir. [Go to top]

Do we have to live in Piedmont to join?

Not at all. Although most of our rehearsals are held in Piedmont, we perform all over, and our singers come from over 100 schools in 19 different Bay Area cities! Our choirs are made up of children from all social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. We probably have a family that lives near you, and we are happy to help you arrange carpools if transportation is an issue. [Go to top]

How old does a child have to be to participate?

We enroll students ages 4-18 in our choirs. Most students joining us for the first time are between 4 and 9, but we also enroll students currently in middle or high school. Middle school and high school aged students with at least a basic foundation in singing are welcome to audition for one of our Performing Department groups. [Go to top]

Is this a church-based choir?

No. We are a non-sectarian, community-based choir. We often rehearse and perform in churches (of many denominations) because churches generally have facilities suited to our acoustical needs and at a reasonable price. Since choral music was intimately connected with religious institutions for hundreds of years, many of the classic works of choral music have religious-based texts. We try to balance works associated with various religious denominations with quality compositions from the secular world, and in no case espouse a particular religious focus. In fact, we make an effort to program works from as many different cultural, religious, and ethnic traditions as possible, giving students an appreciation for diversity in music and in themselves. [Go to top]

Why pick a children’s choir over other activities?

Choral singing is the original “performing art,” and offers a complete educational and growth experience that challenges, develops, and rewards the body, mind, and spirit. Besides teaching new skills, choral training offers an intersection of new friends, cultures, languages, teamwork, discipline, coordination, stamina, self-confidence and respect. Here is a good article on the subject: Click to Download “Why Choruses Matter"

Finally, being in a choir is a lot of fun; what can be more enjoyable than hanging out and singing with your pals? [Go to top]

Is voice training at such a young age healthy for my child?

Yes! The training we give through a choir setting actually protects a child's voice, since it teaches him/her good vocal habits. In fun ways we teach and remind the children about proper posture, breathing and excellent tone at every rehearsal. We teach our students how to project the voice and make it sound more vital without the potential of damaging it through improper use. [Go to top]

How is this choir different from a school or church choir?  Can my child have as good an experience in a church or school choir?

The Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir is regionally, nationally, and internationally recognized for the accomplishments of our choirs and the quality of our choral training program. With every aspect of our operations focused on continuing this proud tradition and an outstanding staff of conductors and singers consistently dedicated to that excellence, we are able to sing a more challenging and varied repertoire of songs than one would find in the typical school or church children's choir. We are especially known for our exploration of contemporary choral music, and for our on-going international activities. While other school or church choirs may occasionally sing contemporary works, the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir regularly commissions and premieres pieces by highly respected living composers. While some school choirs go on trips to other countries, the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir regularly competes with distinction in the most prestigious international choral competitions, and enjoys deep and ongoing relationships with other children’s choirs around the world. Unlike school and church choruses, our choirs frequently collaborate with well-known, respected artists and performing groups, giving our students the unforgettable opportunity of sharing the stage and making music with the “pros.” There is one more benefit of participating in a choir outside a child’s normal school or church community. We have heard from parents repeatedly that the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir is a source of positivity and important outside friendships for a child who may be going through some turbulent times in school or elsewhere. For many, meeting to make music with students from other schools and cities ends up being a much anticipated highlight of the child's week, and over time, a much loved and valued second family. [Go to top]

Where and when will my child perform?

All students perform in regular concerts and recitals held in various churches and concert halls throughout the East Bay. Some groups perform at community events like parades and farmers’ markets. More experienced choirs often serve as guest artists with other area performing groups, and a few of the groups regularly tour, both nationally and internationally. Click here to see a calendar of the year’s major concerts and events. [Go to top]

My child can be sensitive. Is this going to be too stressful on her? What if she says she doesn’t like it?

Our conductors are experts in developing confidence in our youngest choristers. We specialize in helping young people discover the joy of making one’s own voice heard, in the safety and support of a group of like-minded young musicians. That said, it is not unusual for children to occasionally complain about going to choir (or soccer, or ballet) practice. Often, after a full day at school, your child’s energy level may simply be low. A snack on the way to choir to get the child's energy level up may be just the thing needed. Please avoid greasy foods and milk products because they coat the throat and produce mucus. Please avoid high sugar content for obvious behavioral reasons (and because it doesn't provide sustained energy).  If your child complains or otherwise seems upset about choir, please contact her instructor immediately to share your concerns. Often something simple may have happened (being seated away from a friend, another child is being distracting, etc.) which can be easily solved. If your child is new to the Choir, bear in mind that it generally takes at least three months for your child to acquire the foundation level of skill which adds to the fun of being in the choir. At first being in the choir may be mostly your idea and your child is just going along with your desire to provide this experience. Your encouragement and active interest in how it's going will sustain your child's involvement until the child's interest matches or exceeds yours and the activity becomes his/hers. Be diligent and positive in motivating your child in subtle ways to stick with it. Your child will do his/her best in the choir as long as it is fun and as long as s/he senses your unwavering support. You may have expectations of the choir based upon a church or school choir experience. You and your child will need some time to get acquainted with the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir's style of music and instruction.

What is especially important is that you support your child in sticking with the program at least through the end of the semester. Many of the rewards of choral singing come with performance, when the children share their hard work with appreciative family and friends. Quitting during the “hard work” period that occupies the middle of the semester sends an unfortunate message about the values of commitment and perseverance, and deprives your child of the thrill of making it to the finish line and having something special to show for it. Families considering this move should also realize that leaving the group partway through the process is unfair to the other children, who not only have to adjust to a missing voice in the choir, but often feel distress at the loss of a classmate and friend. Those contemplating withdrawal should also take care to review the Choir's withdrawal and refund policies before a final decision. More than anything else, we urge you to contact us so we can help your child have the rewarding experience that so many hundreds of children have enjoyed. [Go to top]

How do you get in? Are there auditions?

Young singers are invited to join the Choir via our semi-yearly auditions held in September and January. No experience is required for students joining our Training Department. Older students, as well as younger students with prior choral experience, are placed in an appropriate group based on age and skill level. Click here for more information on auditions. [Go to top]

How much does it cost, and do you have scholarships?

Expenses vary widely depending on which choir group your child joins. Limited scholarship assistance is available based on need. Click to read about tuition and fee charges for the departments. [Go to top]

What’s the time commitment?

Most beginning and intermediate groups meet once a week for two hours, in the late afternoon or early evening. Training Department choirs perform at least twice a semester, while the more experienced Performing Department groups rehearse and perform much more extensively. Click here for the current group-by-group rehearsal schedule.
Students enrolling in the Choir, whether in September or February, are asked to commit to singing with us until the end of the school year in June. A typical beginning student will attend approximately 17 regular weekly rehearsals, 2 “dress” rehearsals, and 2+ performances each semester, for a total of about 40-45 hours of activity per choir year. [Go to top]

Can we go to a rehearsal or attend a performance before joining to see if we like it?

Absolutely. Please click here to send an email to our staff and arrange to attend a rehearsal (available at the conductor’s discretion). If you are considering the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir for your child, we also highly recommend you attend one of our concerts so you can experience first-hand the quality of the choral music we produce. Click here for information on upcoming concerts. [Go to top]

My question isn't listed here. How can I find out more?

Please click here to send us an email, or feel free to call us at (510) 547-4441, and we’d be pleased to assist you. [Go to top]

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