On June 7, School 14, School 16, School 18 and Troy Middle School chorus students will join more than 3,000 students to participate in the American Young Voices concert at Times Union Center.
Young Voices is a NAfME-approved music program designed to provide and supplement participating schools’ music education curriculum based on the National Core Music Standards. Teachers are provided with teaching aims and objectives in inquiry-based format, all materials including scores and recordings, as well as other resources and support for their music programs. Music is chosen to be fun and accessible to students of various age groups, backgrounds, and abilities – from classrooms to general music classes to choral ensembles. The music is specially arranged to engage and inspire students’ personal successes, increase team building, and build a diverse skill set of listening skills and overall appreciation of the arts.
One of the highlights of the program is that American Young Voices is not a competition, but instead, an all-inclusive program designed to encourage children in grades 2 through 8 from all backgrounds to realize the power of music. The teachers spend months preparing their students during their choral or general music classes for the main event. During this time, teachers are also invited to participate in workshops, which – in addition to preparing them for the concert – provides them with professional development hours. At each concert, thousands of students from local schools come together and sing with a live band, professional lighting and sound to a packed audience of friends and family. Between all five arena shows in 2018, nearly 200 schools will be participating.
In addition to strengthening students’ skill sets in vocal range, diction, as well as music literacy and other musical elements that enhance student learning, the non-competitive nature of AYV aligns with all the evidence that music education supports students’ developing 21st century skills, including self-reflection, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation.
Teachers have reported that they have seen a positive change in both their students and overall classroom atmosphere since participating in AYV, including an increase in boys’ participation in singing in class and joining chorus. Middle School Chorus Teacher, Susan Scherer Yanarella, noted that her “students instantly bonded over the experience and, not only, connected with others in their school’s chorus, but at the concert, with students from other schools too, which was an unexpected bonus.”
The benefits of the AYV experience are not limited to the students and their teachers, but bring communities together with the hope of sharing the love and power and music among all. The music often highlights themes of peace, hope, togetherness, empowerment, unity, among others, in an effort to prove that music brings people together. Participation in music provides crucial social benefits for students; it is a way to make friends, regardless of academic levels or cultural or socioeconomic differences. By mission alone, the AYV experience supports community building and emotional connections among varying communities through such an experience.
“It’s really amazing to see Young Voices thrive in the US,” says managing Director of Young Voices, Ben Lewis. “We’ve seen children from all over develop a new love of music through the program from the UK to Germany. We’re very excited to continue growing and expanding across America.”