Music With a Mission: The Success of the South Shore Children’s Chorus

“Where children make beautiful music and music makes beautiful children.”

This is the slogan of the South Shore Children’s Chorus (SSCC), a nonprofit organization in Massachusetts that gives students the opportunity to learn and grow as musicians. Founded in January 2016 by Kirsten Oberoi and Carey Shunskis, this program aims to create a “safe, loving community for students to learn, to grow, and to find their own voice.”

SSCC is built on the core values of teaching healthy singing technique, having a well-rounded education, having supportive friends and teachers, and, perhaps most importantly, providing a safe and inviting environment for young singers.

In many communities nationwide, students don’t have access to this level of music education. School arts programs are often underfunded, even though schools with music programs have a  graduation rate of more than 90%. SSCC, on the other hand, offers their services to all students between the ages of 4 and 18, regardless of their financial situation.

Kirsten, one of the founders of this organization, is a public school music teacher at Ahern Middle School in Foxborough, Massachusetts. She previously lived in San Diego, where she founded the SACRA/PROFANA Summer Choral Intensive for high school students. She is also the director of the SSCC Advanced Choir, working diligently in rehearsals and sight-singing classes to improve her students’ musical literacy.

Kirsten founded the South Shore Children’s Chorus because she knows what it’s like to be in her students’ shoes.

“I was born and raised in Quincy, loved to sing, but had no opportunity to do so outside of school,” she said “I wanted to join a children’s chorus in the city of Boston somewhere, but had two working parents who weren’t able to drive me back and forth into the city in rush hour traffic. I felt that there was a huge need for a children’s chorus in our area, so I started one!”

Carey, the other founder of the SSCC, is the Music Director of Harvard Pro-Musica, a community choir for adults and high school students from the suburbs of Boston. She is also a Teaching Fellow with Boston Children’s Chorus and the Interim Director of Children’s Choruses at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. She passionately directs the Intermediate Choir, which consists primarily of middle school students.

Students in SSCC have traveled for their performances, sharing concerts with the Quincy Choral Society, the Genesis Chamber Singers, and the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra. They also go Christmas caroling each December, singing at the Hanover Mall and Thayer Academy, a local boarding school.

Additionally, the organization provides summer programs, including their Summer Chorale and the South Shore Choral Intensive. During the intensive, students learn a high-level repertoire and attend sight-singing classes. They also have the opportunity to learn from professional musicians and local music professors.

Kirsten believes that this ability for students to perform and to sing in any capacity is a powerful thing.

“Music – and particularly singing music – fosters confidence in young people,” she said. “Learning to use your voice – the instrument built inside of your body – trains you to not be afraid of the sound you make. Seeing young people grow and develop [by] learning to use their voice confidently is an incredible thing.”

To learn more about how you can support SSCC, visit http://www.southshorechildrenschorus.org/support/.

 

Sarah Ryan

Sarah Ryan, 17, is a high school junior from Holbrook, Massachusetts. For the past three years, Sarah has worked with The 84 Movement, a youth-led organization focused on tobacco prevention. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of her school newspaper, The Holbrook Hub. Passionate about both advocacy and journalism, Sarah hopes to use her voice to make a difference.

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