I'd think twice before sending your son here. There's been nearly 100% turnover of teachers in the past year (the most senior is the part-time Spanish teacher, who's only been there 18 months) and a 35% decline in enrollment - not signs of a healthy organization. The musical education is great, but the quality of the academic education has nose-dived recently - it's mediocre, at best. Unless your son is planning to become a professional singer (and maybe even then), I'd skip it.
Great is not a word that I would use to describe this school. There are three major concerns: The first is priorities. The reputation of the choir is priority number one. Your son is important only insofar as he contributes to the choir and he will be expected to arrange his life around rehearsals and performances. The school is mainly a way to supply the choir with boys who sing beautifully and rehearse daily, but not much more than that. The second concern is how the school understands boys. They advertise as boy friendly with pitches like we understand boy. However, they basically view issues and problems that boys present from a moralistic perspective rather than one informed by knowledge about child development. The school lacks a learning specialist and a counselor and that becomes evident very quickly. A third concern has to do with planning and management of local and international tours. There have been problems related to the care and well-being of the boys. When our son was at the school very few of the staff members who chaperoned tours were parents and that really showed in terms of how they responded or not to the boys physical and emotional needs.
Pacific Boy Choir Academy is truly a unique educational and character development experience for young boys in 4th through 8th grades. The school is located in Oakland, CA and its enrollment reflects the bay area's diverse community. In addition to rigorous, dynamic, broad and challenging academic classes, the combination of hard work with extraordinary accomplishment, yields lifelong lessons for impressionable young boys in the area of both teamwork and personal responsibility. The opportunities this school has given my 12 year old son are simply incredible. From performing classics in Russian, German, Latin and French with professional symphonies and opera companies to traveling internationally and learning through those experiences, I am so grateful my son has this opportunity to attend Pacific Boychoir Academy. Once he graduates, while in high school, my son will continue to participate in performances and trips as part of the academy's "changed voices" and "continuum" choirs. It's an experience of a lifetime!
I think this school is the one of the best kept secrets in Oakland. My son has attended since the 4th grade. He is now in 7th. I am considering holding him back a year so he doesn't have to leave. Just kidding! (Sort of.) The academic program is challenging and creative. They do a serious in depth study of a different Shakespeare play every year. It takes months and all of the kids are completely into it. They learn to really read with depth, and this is the mentality that guides the entire academic program.The musical education (up to two hours a day) they get is definitely unsurpassed, and probably unequaled anywhere in the US. They also keep a rigorous and exciting performance schedule. There is enough diversity among the student population that any kid who liked music would be happy here.My son feels safe, and cared for, and valued and he is proud of his accomplishments and proud of his school. We love this place.
This school is truly, "one of a kind." They blend traditional academics and music education in a seamless way that engages and stimulates the boys to want to learn, perform and be better people. Our son has grown so much during his 2 1/2 years at PBA. The work is challenging, yet the teachers know how to cater to individual learning styles. The small class size helps too! The boys don't just learn through reading and memorization. Much of the work is hands-on. They grow things in science, take field trips in history and learn about different cultures directly on an international trip each year. The boys have performed with great orchestras the world over, performed for thousands, been on America's Got Talent and won TWO Grammy Awards. The teachers and staff understand boys and channel boy-energy in a way that gets great results in the classroom, on stage in in preparation for life beyond 4th-8th grade. We could not have chosen a better school for our son.
I recommended PBA for middle school boys interested in music of any kind. My son plays drums, but the music education, including theory and vocal training, has enhanced his musicianship even outside of school. Rehearsing and performing with the PBA choir, helps him be a better rock band member, knowing he must practice in order for the entire group to be at its best. Excellent life lessons are learned at this school. In addition, the academics are as rigorous as any private school in the area. However, since the teachers speak "boy" (knowing how boys learn and allowing them all the wiggle room they need), the stress of academics is handled well. Lastly, the school is cultivating future leaders. The boys are given responsibilities for ensuring the school is a safe, well-kept and fun place to be. For a well-rounded education, PBA is a great choice.
We came from a local school district with a high API score and a California Distinguished designation. We were still unhappy with the large class sized and the lack of individualized attention. PBA has rekindled the love of learning into our son. He enjoys every aspect of his day ! From the intimate class size, challenging academic and music lessons, and community; our son is growing by leaps and bounds. Learn about the school for yourself and you won't be disappointed.