The Chorus School provides the opportunity for girls ages 7 to 16 to develop musically at their own pace. Individual progress is measured within four graduated Level Objectives. While work toward Level Objectives occurs in every rehearsal, choristers schedule time each day at home to work on vocal technique, theory assignments and music repertoire memorization. There is much to learn both personally and musically at each level; each chorister, regardless of age, develops at her own rate.
Level I is an ensemble of choristers ages 7-9. In Level I, choristers are expected to, among other things, master the basics of vocal technique through developing the use of both their head and chest voice, demonstrating the ability to match pitch and sing in tune consistently, and maintaining correct singing posture. They also work to master the basics of music reading and aural skills, including reading all the notes on the treble staff, and a beginning knowledge of solfege, intervals, and rhythmic patterns. Level I choristers are also expected to develop an appropriate attention span, work together with other choristers, and demonstrate an appropriate level of social and emotional maturity.
Annual Tuition: $2,500
Level II is an ensemble of choristers ages 8-12. In Level II, choristers build on the skills developed in Level I. Level II choristers continue to develop their vocal technique through gained knowledge of the parts of the vocal mechanism, an understanding of resonance and breathing, and an increased knowledge of vowel formation and IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). Additionally, they tackle more complicated music theory and aural skills, including the beginning understanding of key signatures and solfege in those keys, a knowledge of major and minor intervals, simple time signatures and rhythms, and major triads. In order to be socially, emotionally, and intellectually ready for the next step, Level II choristers must demonstrate an increased attention span in rehearsal, confidence in singing 2-part music, ease of singing in foreign languages, and the ability to memorize 25 to 30 minutes of music a semester, among other elements of commitment and focus. Level II ensembles perform at community centers, senior residences, schools, and holiday functions.
Annual Tuition: $2,500
Level III is an ensemble of choristers ages 8-13, Level III choristers delve deeper into the topics above, as the cumulative work of the Chorus School continues. In terms of vocal technique, Level III choristers are expected to be able to describe the physiological process of singing with basic terminology and understand how vowels and consonants are correctly produced. They also are expected to be able to sing with resonant tone, and be able to begin to critique the vocal production, performance, and posture of their peers.
Level III choristers continue to build on their music theory and aural skills through increasingly intense music theory study. They work to master all key signatures, both major and minor, and understand the functions of different scale degrees in those keys, as well as the construction and function of triads and scales. They also are expected to increase their ability to sight read in two to three parts, using solfege, in any major key, and to be able to understand altered solfege syllables. This goes hand in hand with mastery of increasingly difficult rhythms and meters. Additionally, Level III choristers are expected to demonstrate an increased level of focus, maturity, and preparedness, memorizing up to 40 minutes of music a semester, and demonstrating an increased level of commitment to the art of choral singing.
Level III performs annually for holiday events, festivals, dinners, luncheons, and other events.
Annual Tuition: $2,500
Level IV, the most accomplished ensemble representing the San Francisco Girls Chorus School, is comprised of choristers, ages 9-16. As such, choristers are expected to not only master many concepts in all areas of the curriculum, but to demonstrate their mastery through testing and evaluation. All Level IV choristers receive small-group and individual vocal instruction and, as a result, are expected to demonstrate a high level of vocal mastery.
Level IV choristers must pass a Qualifying Exam in both music theory and sight singing in order to be considered for graduation from the Chorus School. Music theory elements of this exam include construction and identification of all commonly- used scales, intervals, triads, seventh chords, and inversions. It also includes demonstration of a knowledge of cadences, simple forms, and bass clef. Aural Skills elements of this exam include sight singing in 3 to 4 parts, in a major or minor key, with diatonic steps, skips and accidentals. As graduates from the Chorus School are expected to be representatives of a comprehensive choral music education, Level IV choristers are expected to demonstrate the highest level of commitment in the Chorus School through attendance and independent study. They are also expected to comport themselves with dignity and grace through rehearsal and concert situations and to represent the Chorus School throughout the community.
Level IV choristers are increasingly invited to participate in professional-level performance opportunities, and enthusiasm for and dedication to these opportunities is part of full participation in Level IV. The Chorus School Level IV appears annually with San Francisco Opera, and has performed with San Francisco Bach Society, as well as for special performances for dignitaries. Many of these singers performed in the San Francisco Symphony’s “An American Journey with Charles Ives," which earned a Grammy Award and received high praise from music critics. Full-length concert programs are presented twice per year. Level IV also includes a 25-voice small ensemble, appropriate for smaller performance spaces. Level IV performs with piano and a cappella.
Annual Tuition: $2,800