“Betsy Marvit is a miracle with these kids. Her combination of top-level musicianship and palpable connection with the group results in the accomplishment of an ASTONISHING amount in one rehearsal/week. The chorus members themselves have a great chemistry. They are so into it and clearly bond over laughing at rehearsal and the magic created together. I've witnessed my and other kids’ remarkable growth in a very short time. Betsy really stretches them, and they love it. She's got a unique style, warmth, understanding of young voices, creativity… This one is worth traveling for. If you live in the East Bay, seriously, don't miss out.”
Betsy is the most engaging, kind, and dedicated choral conductor you could wish for. She chooses unique and interesting music, and works tirelessly to inspire and lead her students. She creates a supportive, friendly environment and I have never enjoyed an ensemble experience more. I cannot recommend her enough.
I think the word that would most accurately describe the level of the children's attention is "rapt." Although Betsy does not tolerate poor behavior, and demands a lot of them musically, the overall mood throughout is infectiously joyful and enthusiastic.
“If you are looking for a way for your kid to experience music, learn real musicianship and have FUN, I can't recommend [this] chorus enough.”
“Betsy chooses a wide variety of songs, which are multi-part compositions and often in other languages. Yet, this challenging content is always presented with a deep sense of fun. … Even on days when the kids are grumpy leaving the house, they come out of chorus joyful and engaged. I think an opportunity like this – which is both complex and low key – is a huge gift for kids.”
“Betsy gets right down to business in a fun and nurturing way. My daughter felt engaged and challenged throughout and went eagerly every Saturday. She had an air of confidence in herself by the end. As a former music major, I was very impressed by the sophistication of the music. ”
"Betsy Marvit, who leads both groups, is an amazingly talented director. Her energy, warmth and sense of humor keep the focused attention of younger children and teens alike. Come observe a class – I guarantee that you will be impressed! … Thanks to Betsy, I have a teenager who actually looks forward to getting up on Saturday mornings!"
“[My child has] progressed so much in her understanding and love of music, and she enjoys it tremendously. [I] often end up just watching the practice and admiring Betsy's really amazing style as a teacher. She seems to see every single student, and has an uncanny ability to move between fun, silly, strict, creative, and encouraging. The kids follow her every move, and really respond. … I find it wonderful to watch them concentrating, enjoying, and learning. Betsy doesn't rank the students by skills and experience. She obviously believes that everybody can participate and contribute, and when the time for the performance comes, they sing beautifully! ”
“Eli had a wonderfully rich and personal musical experience ... it was especially due to Betsy's constructive teaching, encouragement and support that he blossomed in skill and confidence, really connecting with the joy of music.”
“Our 12-year-old has sung since kindergarten, and loves it.”
“Our 10 year old has been in the choir for three straight seasons. She loves it. ... The director, Betsy Marvit is amazing. She's fun, engaging, committed, and an expert in her discipline. She chooses the most amazing pieces for the children to sing. And the performances are a real treat. The kids really respond. If you're looking for a choir program, this is the one.”
“Chamber Singers is amazing. My daughter was in the children's chorus for several years and absolutely loved it. … Betsy is a wonder: she is warm, funny and superbly talented. Despite the group only meeting for an hour a week, they learn sophisticated music. While the chorus is low key and fun, the kids learn a lot and sing beautiful pieces. The chamber singers is the highlight of my daughter's week. (And truth be told listening to rehearsals is one of the high points of my week!). I can't recommend this group highly enough!”
“The songs they perform are seriously beautiful and sophisticated, and Betsy Marvit somehow manages to teach them complex harmonies while still insisting they have fun while doing it. The kids explore different sounds and voices and learn not just how to sing, but how to make music. … And the recital was superb, clearly demonstrating Betsy's extreme talent for teaching, mentoring and performing with kids.”
"The kids have no idea that they are singing difficult works as the director employs amazing kindness and humor throughout each rehearsal. … It is the best investment of an hour a week one can make."
“She knows her stuff, welcomes kids with no previous music while at the same time happy to talk theory with the more musically experienced kids. And the kids with extra skill sometimes get to solo or accompany … It's like magic every semester when the complex, multi-part songs come together. She packs a lot into one hour a week. She also seems to really welcome and work well with kids on the spectrum.”
“Betsy Marvit, the director, chooses a great balance of pieces in English and other languages (Spanish, Hebrew, Latin, among others), classical, folk, and even pop. The different pieces hold the kids' interest and allow them to work on different vocal and choral skills. She has a true gift for working with kids to keep them focused and interested, while learning real vocal technique and, even more important, how to listen to one another in a choral setting. ”
“I HIGHLY recommend … My 17-year-old daughter (a violist) has sung with the chorus, and now the chamber singers, since she was 9 years old. She is utterly devoted to it because Betsy brings out the joy of music while cultivating a high level of musicianship and challenging the kids to stretch. Betsy is a jewel: she is heart-centered and she can be silly, but she's seriously committed to the musical development of each child and of the group.”
“The focus of this chorus is experiential. While the kids have gotten a chance to perform in the annual Boys Chorus holiday event and at a workshop for teen choruses these past two years, the emphasis is on gaining an understanding of how to sing in ways that get the kids to new heights, rather than focusing on an ambitious public performance schedule. Plus, the kids are encouraged to bring all of their skills. While the chorus is billed as a cappella, the kids accompany themselves, bringing in piano, string instruments, reed instruments, beat boxing, and even musical Lamaze octopuses that were tweaked to play a formal scale. ”
“The experience has been transformative for both of them. Betsy consistently has the kids sing complex pieces (similar to the repertoire of the San Francisco Boys Chorus, where she also conducts) but in a spirit that is deeply fun and even mischievous–they were recently scolded by a director from another chorus for doing a work normally reserved for adults (which they mastered).”
“It is a real joy for us all. They learn some beautiful and musically challenging songs in a very relaxed and fun environment. Betsy Marvit has a wonderful sense of humor and helps the kids tackle some lovely pieces without any pressure. … They simply spend their one hour a week having fun and end up with a glorious recital at the end. I highly recommend it to anyone.”
“One of my daughters is in the chorus right now, and is enjoying being a "right weirdo," Betsy's terminology for second soprano. What I find amazing about the chorus is how much Betsy gets the kids to successfully learn in a relatively short amount of time … She has a fabulous kid-like sense of humor which keeps the kids engaged. But don't let that fool you; she's very organized and knows how to get the kids to focus without being overbearing. She picks very interesting music and the chorus sounded beautiful at the final concert.
We like the fact that this chorus meets only once a week for an hour. To get this caliber of instruction, one usually has to join a children's choir that meets for several hours twice a week. The hardest part for us was that the chorus starts at 9:30 am on a Saturday, but getting out of the house earlier than we normally would on a weekend morning was definitely worth it. ”
— Madelyn W.
"Unknowingly, we stumbled into this wonderful hidden gem of the East Bay. The director, Betsy Marvit, is not only a great musician, but she is like a kid-whisperer. She combines utter silliness with great musicianship--the kids adore her (and I can see why)."
“It has been her most enjoyable experience in music to date. Betsy Marvit is an immensely passionate teacher who really pushes her students, while still making rehersals something the kids look forward to. The students have varying musical and instrumental experience that makes the group very diverse. Betsy exposes the students to numerous different musical periods and music theory concepts. They are always a hit at their concerts and often accompany themselves on their instruments. I strongly recommend this choir!”
"My daughter and son both sang in the  children's chorus for several years … I can't say enough positive things about Betsy Marvit, the chorus director. She is engaging for the youngest children, and demanding for the oldest. "
"My daughter did not want to commute or go multiple times a week so the once-a-week high quality instruction was just right for us."
“My husband and myself were always blown away at how much [they] could lean in just one hour per Saturday over the course of a semester. Where the program stands out from some of the more serious ones is that Betsy knows how to work with kids, and she makes singing together really, really fun. Many parents sit in the back of the room during rehearsals just because it is such a joy watching Betsy work her magic with her young singers. I strongly recommend that your son give … Chorus a try. Chances are he will love it!”
My daughter was part of this amazing musical experience in person from 2015-2017 and then was able to join virtually from our home in NY when Betsy moved the chorus online in 2020. Betsy is a phenomenal musician and choral director; she selects arrangements that both excite and challenge the singers and then guides them through learning their parts in a way that builds their musicianship, hones their vocal skills, strengthens their voices, and encourages them to engage with the music. The result is a group of kids singing beautiful and fun songs with scores that are far above a level that anyone (other than Betsy) could imagine kids singing for their ages. My child has a huge sense of pride in the work that they accomplish each semester. While most choirs have shut down in 2020, Betsy continues to produce amazing concerts and build vocal expertise for kids across the country in a positive and engaging virtual environment. I encourage you to check out the performances, and become part of the epic musical experience that is YMC.
When shelter-in-place orders kicked in, Betsy gave her singers the opportunity to continue singing weekly through Zoom meetings and eventually managed to put together a wonderful concert. These meetings became a highly anticipated time each week, a thread of normalcy and connection to others that remained a constant throughout the crisis. ... The kids showed us parents how resourceful they are when fully engaged in a common artistic endeavor. The joy they felt and so enthusiastically shared with their community and beyond really lifted our spirits and helped us try and stay focused on better days to come.
The choice to opt-out of the chorus was offered but Betsty's enthusiasm and gift for connecting with children had hooked my daughter and the Zoom practices commenced. What Betsy cultivated from these virtual practices was remarkable. My daughter continued to improve her vocal abilities and truly enjoyed the practices lead by an amazing chorus director. The virtual concert at the end of the season was stellar. I highly recommend the Young Musicians Chorus!
Our son is in his second season of singing with the Young Musicians Chorus, and I must say: this is an amazing group with outstanding leadership. Betsy is a marvelous director and mentor to these kids, able to elicit outstanding singing quality from them while keeping it really fun. I've seen her take a child's disruptive outburst and turn it into an invitation to be a leader in a way that really encouraged everyone to be themselves and try their hardest.
Our son has struggled with finding structured activities that really fit for him, and when we first came to YMC we were concerned that it might be too serious and that he would burn out quickly. Quite the contrary! Although the group is quite serious, and the quality of singing and musical growth shows it, he is practically skipping each time we pick him up from rehearsal, and we hear him singing his songs as he goes about his daily business. It's also really contributing to his violin studies, and strengthening his ear in a way that he really feels the music in his body.
YMC is a wonderful group, and has been a great gift to our son and our family. Thank you Betsy and Victor and the whole YMC community!!!
“They meet for 1.5 hrs on Saturday mornings with Betsy Marvit, a *fantastic* director who coaches them through challenging pieces with discernment, warmth and humor. The result is musical performances that rival or exceed those of the more "serious" choruses in the Bay area. Many of the singers study musical instruments, which are occasionally incorporated into choral pieces. My daughter has been an enthusiastic member for several years.”
"Chorus has been a phenomenal experience for my son (and for his parents). Betsy encourages the young kids involved in this co-ed chorus to push the envelope both in terms of repertoire and skill level. She is an outstanding teacher and I so appreciate her solid experience, rapport with the kids and non-stuffy style."
“They meet once a week on Saturday mornings for 1 to 1.5 hours. The teacher, Betsy Marvit, is absolutely fantastic, and is somehow able to make the classes both fun and challenging! My (very musical) child has been part of these classes for many years and Betsy and her chorus have been a key part of her growth as a musician.”
“We were looking for a quality program for our two twin boys, 11 year old, who have been enjoying singing for some years. We luckily found the choir directed by Betsy. The boys have felt welcome in the group from the very beginning, challenged and appreciated by the choir conductor, Betsy, and have really enjoyed the experience overall. Betsy is indeed a fun but motivating conductor which really make the children enjoying even the most challenging music piece. … We would highly recommend the experience to any child with a passion for music and singing.”
"It's only once a week which fits our schedule, and the director has a way of challenging and encouraging kids at all levels, from those who can step up and sing a note with perfect pitch at the first go to those who are working on sitting still and being clearly heard. They work on songs with as many as four parts, in multiple languages, with instruction ranging from physical control of the sound with mouth and posture to holding a part while their chorus mates sing a different one. There is also an advanced choir for older kids who are remarkable to listen to, and the two groups usually sing together at the recital and practice together for one or two songs. This helps the younger, less experienced singers see what's possible."
“Our musically talented daughter is overscheduled and couldn't do any of the choruses that meet several times a week. The Chamber Singers (one has to audition into it) is acapella and has some incredibly talented musicians. They take on very serious pieces (and as most the kids are serious musicians, the kids will often provide their own accompaniment on some pieces (cello, violin, viola, piano, flute, etc)). If you are looking for a chorus that is both musically sophisticated but not too time consuming---and very joyful--please check out the  Saturday choruses. We are so lucky to have found Betsy Marvit and the  Choruses years ago--I can't recommend these choruses highly enough! I only wish more people knew about this community gem!!”
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This was my son's first time with the YMC and it was a huge success, even with all the changes that were thrown their way! Betsy is outstanding - so energetic and positive with the kids and good at communicating with the adults. Betsy went above and beyond at making the transition to virtual rehearsals a success. My son learned and sang and loved it all! Can't wait for the fall!
My daughter has been a member of YMC for a number of years. The chorus, which is composed of three groups roughly organized by age and ability, is of high caliber. This is all the more impressive given that they practice only once a week under the direction of Betsy Marvit. Thanks to her skills and the commitment of the young singers they have managed to give remarkable performances year after year, including throughout Covid.
On a return for money and effort basis this must be one of the most valuable activities in the Bay Area: I could not recommend it more highly.
My daughter has sung with Betsy Marvit's chorus for six years. When the chorus relocated from the Crowden School to St Albans Church, we followed. This chorus is a unique combination of high musicianship, informality and quirkiness. Betsy chooses wide-ranging repertoire for the kids at all three levels, introducing them to different languages, genres and musical ideas. Many of the kids are also instrumentalists, and their skills are incorporated into the concerts whenever possible. I have been so impressed by what Betsy accomplishes in just one hour/week with these kids. Her musicality, skill and hard work are such a gift to these young musicians.
Young Musicians Chorus has been a wonderfully fun and inclusive environment for our daughter (9yr) to learn many elements of musicianship. Betsy, the Director, does an incredible job of keeping the kids engaged and enthused through material that definitely strays outside of their comfort zones at times. Her lighthearted demeanor puts all the kids at ease even while tackling songs in many languages and styles, learning vocal technique, practicing dynamics, harmony and counterpoint, as well as nurturing the listening skills required for being a member of an ensemble. Additionally, she encourages members to contribute other musical skills to the group (violin, drums, cello, etc), and will arrange a solo or accompanying part for a performance.
This is a great resource for our community, and a fun, supportive environment for kids to learn and perform challenging and exciting repertoire. The recitals are always very compelling.
Woot woot for Betsy and YMC! If your kid likes to sing, I highly recommend you check it out.
Young Musicians Chorus is a special place that nurtures children's musicianship in a welcome and casual setting. There are many reviews praising Betsy, the conductor's talent on engaging the children and bringing out the best of them. That is all TRUE. My kid loves to be part of YMC, and her signing has improved significantly. Their highest-level Chorus group competed this summer and won silver!
I want to offer a different perspective and talk about the respect and consideration this Chorus has to the parents. The rehearsal is once at the weekend, not multiple times during the weekday like other choirs, so the parents won't need to leave work early to shuttle the kids. YMC has one concert at the end of the semester, and it is free to the parents and public. Many other choirs host multiple concerts and charge concert tickets, plus requiring parents to sell tickets or do mandatory volunteer work- YMC does none of that. Also, YMC's tuition fee is very reasonable and does not have other tag on fees like uniform(s) for the performance or music camp. A low-income family won't be able to afford the 'commitments' that OTHER choirs put upon. I am not running a social justice campaign, but can a Choir be less business like and focuses more on the singers?
Betsy once said she wants the Chorus to be strictly about the music and the kids, without the formalities and expenses that come with a focus on class and other non-essentials - She really walks the talk. When you know the Conductor's heart is all about music and kids (plus she is excellent), why wouldn't you want your kids to be in the Young Musicians Chorus?