Grantee Spotlight: A Closer Look into Projects from Partners in the Southwest

Phoenix Boys Choir, Tucson Girls Chorus, VOX Femina Los Angeles, and Desert Sounds are part of the first inaugural cohort of recipients of Chorus America’s Music Education Partnership Grants. The program awarded over $900,000 to 20 community organizations and schools across the United States and Canada to fund projects designed to increase access to choral music and promote non-arts learning and cultural literacy while upholding the principles of access, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In this Grantee Spotlight, we share updates from organizations in the Southwest region, specifically, Arizona and California.

Phoenix Boys Choir

In Phoenix, Arizona, the Phoenix Boys Choir and the Creighton Elementary School District are providing fourth graders from William T. Machan School and Monte Vista School with vocal instruction from the artistic director of the Phoenix Boys Choir and organizing excursions that let students experience music from diverse cultures through performances and meetings with local artists. So far this school year, students received Instruction on Mariachi, Gospel, and Hip-Hop, and will learn about Native American music during the remaining months of the year.

This program is also establishing a pathway for students to explore choir programs and enhance their interests.

Tucson Girls Chorus

From Tucson, Arizona, the Tucson Girls Chorus (TGC) are bringing music education to students from the GuVo District of the Tohono O’odham Nation through a partnership with the Native American Advancement Foundation (NAAF), a community-based organization led by members of the Tohono O’odham Nation. This collaboration gives students the opportunity to engage with Tohono O’odham culture through music.

In addition to the virtual collaboration in the GuVo District, the TGC has brought to life three elementary programs in Tucson, a pilot program aimed at working with middle school students, and a growing collaboration with a local Girl Scout troop.

Executive director of the Tucson Girls Chorus Marcela Molina is a guest speaker in Centering Relationships in Educational Partnerships at this year’s 2023 Chorus America Conference. The session will discuss redefining success and building authentic relationships with the community TGC serves.

VOX Femina Los Angeles

From Los Angeles, California, VOX Femina received a Music Education Partnership Grant to establish a school-based initiative around the Justice Choir Songbook. The program uses the Justice Choir Songbook to engage middle and junior high school students across the County of Los Angeles with the history and cultural significance of protest music.

Singing, body percussion, student-led discussions, group creation, and exploration of today's important issues through music, poetry, and history are all components of the 12-week program, which culminates in a group concert for friends, family, and peers.

Desert Sounds

Desert Sounds from Mesa, Arizona, is utilizing funds from their Music Education Partnership Grant to support the singing skills of about 100 students with the support of newly hired vocal instructors. In a spring check-in, Desert Sounds enthusiastically shared with Chorus America that students are coming out of their shell, including a shy student who has participated in the program for four years and performed their first solo in March.

Students are also learning and growing their appreciation for Mariachi music. In late 2022, the organization worked with fellow Chorus America grantee Bi-National Arts Institute to perform Mariachi music at the border Naco, Arizona, and Naco, Sonora.