The Chorus School provides the opportunity for girls ages 4 to 16 to develop musically at their own pace. Individual progress is measured within 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.
Prep Chorus is SFGC's non-auditioned chorus. Prep Chorus provides choristers the opportunity to develop their voices and musicianship in an exciting, positive, age-appropriate atmosphere. Students are introduced to unison choral music and beginning vocal technique. Repertoire selection encompasses a wide variety of genres, including classical, folk, sacred, secular, and multicultural. Singers will take first steps in reading from a choral octavo, increasing their ability to read both words and music. Students build listening and memory skills through weekly practice, and develop confidence and stage presence in preparation for their final performance. Choristers in Prep Chorus are generally between the ages of 4-6.
Prep Chorus meets once per week for 45 minutes. Classes are offered on Saturdays and Mondays at the Kanbar Performing Arts Center in San Francisco and on Saturdays at the Crowden Music Center in Berkeley. Please visit our Prep Chorus page for more information on this ensemble.
Training Chorus is new for the 2018-19 Chorus School year. This auditioned ensemble is designed to serve as a bridge between SFGC's non-auditioned Prep Chorus, which meets once a week for 45 minutes, and Chorus School Level I, which meets twice a week for 2 hours. Training Chorus classes will include vocal technique, movement, sight singing, and an hour of choral repertoire. The class will be led by SFGC’s expert choral, music theory, and vocal faculty. Choral repertoire will be dynamic, fun, diverse, and accessible for all singers continuing from SFGC's Prep Chorus or for any young girls who are interested in exploring choral singing. Choristers in Training Chorus are generally between the ages of 6-7.
Training Chorus meets once a week for 2 hours and is offered on Wednesdays from 4-6pm in Berkeley, alongside Chorus School Levels I, II, and III, and on Thursdays from 4-6pm in San Francisco.
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. Choristers in Level I are generally between the ages of 7-9.
Level I meets twice per week (Tuesdays & Thursdays in San Francisco from 4-6 pm OR Wednesdays & Fridays in Berkeley from 4-6 pm). Dress rehearsals and performances may take place on weekends in either San Francisco or the East Bay.
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. Choristers in Level II are generally between the ages of 8-12.
Level II meets twice per week (Tuesdays & Thursdays in San Francisco from 4-6 pm OR Wednesdays & Fridays in Berkeley from 4-6 pm). Dress rehearsals and performances may take place on weekends in either San Francisco or the East Bay.
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. Choristers in Level III are generally between the ages of 9-13.
Level III meets twice per week (Tuesdays & Thursdays in San Francisco from 4-6 pm OR Wednesdays & Fridays in Berkeley from 4-6 pm). Dress rehearsals and performances may take place on weekends in either San Francisco or the East Bay.
Level IV is the most accomplished ensemble representing the San Francisco Girls Chorus School. 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. Choristers in Level IV are generally between the ages of 10-16.
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.
Level IV meets twice per week (Tuesdays & Fridays from 4:15-6:45pm in San Francisco; one Saturday a month from 9:30am-4pm). Dress rehearsals and performances may take place on weekends in either San Francisco or the East Bay.