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917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
(415) 457-4878

Aspiring Teen Singers! Audition for `Til Dawn!

`Til Dawn 2011-12

Want to be part of this picture? Want to join the legacy led by esteemed artist Austin Willacy?  Want a teen troupe whose alum include talents on Broadway, television, and with their own recording labels?

Youth in Arts award-winning teen a capella troupe ‘Til Dawn is holding annual auditions.

Each year we hold auditions to replace those students graduating high school.  The group is particularly interested this year in singers with a strong bass range, but all types and ranges of singers are added to the group each year. Singers should be entering 9 – 12 grade in fall 2012.

Questions: What songs should I prepare? What should I wear? Can I talk to someone for more information? Answers here on our website.
`Til Dawn Auditions

May 21, 2012 – 5:30 pm

Youth in Arts Studio 917 C Street.

Student Exhibition at The Hannah Project Gallery-Marin City

A must see exhibition by Bayside Elementary & Willow Creek Academy students. The exhibit features fun creative works showcasing projects created by youth under the instruction of Youth in Arts Mentor Artists Ms.Marguerite Etemad & Mr. K-Dub. Exhibit opens today at The Hannah Project Gallery, 170 Donahue Street (next to Best Buy) in Marin City. Opening reception is Tuesday, April 24th 5:30-8pm. There will be a special youth performance at 6:30pm & refreshments provided by the “Growing Great” Marin City program.
Hannah Project Gallery hours  Thurs-Sat. 12:30pm-6pm, Sunday 2:30pm-4:40pm and Mon-Wed by appointment only .

`Til Dawn Alum Changing Lives

Stevie Greenwell with students from GLOW: Girls Leading Our World. The girls empowerment and resiliency camp she co-directed

`Til Dawn Alum Stevie Greenwell shares about the impact that Austin Willacy has had on her and how she is passing on her love for the arts with special needs students in Zambia.  Go Stevie!

I remember being so nervous when I auditioned for ‘Til Dawn. I was in awe of the group and was unbelievably excited to become part of it. Little did I know how much ‘Til Dawn would change me and that 11 years later it would still have such a large impact on my life. When I joined the group, I was a quietly strong and slightly shy girl. ‘Til Dawn helped me find my voice on stage and in life. I became a more confident person and started to find more direction for my future. ‘Til Dawn took me from a person who liked to sing to someone confidently choosing to study music education in college and making music part of my career.

I was beginning to believe in the power of education and expression and Youth in Arts embodied both of those ideals. I secretly dreamed about working for Youth in Arts one day and started often thought about starting my own non-profit one day. I think I was just starting to understand the connection we can have with others and how much good can come out of that connection and community. All I knew is I had to do something. It was also around this time that I first started thinking about volunteering and the Peace Corps. Be it with Peace Corps or Non-profits, I knew my fulfillment was going to come through helping others and singing. At the time it all seemed like far fetched dreams and then before I knew it, I was calling Austin to tell him I was moving to Zambia and soon teaching a group of high school boys how to write songs in front of my hut.

I loved being a part of the Youth in Arts family and seeing all the amazing projects they have accomplished. It was my first look into how a non-profit worked on a daily basis. I felt so lucky to be in the group and thank Youth in Arts and Austin for that chance. Austin has been such an amazing support in my life. He has gone from director to mentor and advisor to close friend. He continually makes me think about the impact I can have on the world and motivates me to actively contribute what I can through his actions and choices.

The ‘Til Dawn family I became a part of is still going strong. There have been countless coffee dates, long distant phone calls, concerts, shows, weddings, and even babies! I am still collaborating with members of the group to teach music and continue to sing together. The actual impact Youth in Arts has had on me is unmeasurable. Most of all I think back on my time singing with ‘Til Dawn with a huge smile on my face. I strive to keep the art, music, and community going in every direction of my life.

I spent two and half years in Zambia working with teachers, schools, and communities to improve education in rural areas. I fell in love with Zambia and found myself apart a part of new family and community half way across the globe. When I returned to the states the answer still seemed clear, you must help the ones you love. Over the past year, two other returned volunteers and I have been working on a project called Paint the Movement to help some absolutely amazing kids in Zambia.

We are going to Chileshe Chelepa Special Needs for a week long learning event with the core values I felt at Youth in Arts, education and art, as our focus. It is a combination of creative physical therapy, teacher training, art education and a student mural project. 30 teachers trained means over 600 students impacted and a mural project that will have continents collaborating. I am overjoyed to be able to bring art and the power of expression to these children.

Check out our video and more information on our site.

We are a small group with the chance to have a powerful impact and want as many people to be a part of it as possible.We are currently at 78% of our fundraising target and just need a final push to make it to our goal. All of our supporters have come from word of mouth. Please help us spread the word and become a member of the Paint the Movement Family. I dare you to not fall in love with the children in this video.


VSA Percussion Workshops!!

My name is William Rossel and I am a mentor artist for Youth in Arts.

I have been using percussion as a learning tool with special needs populations from Kindergarten to High School. I have had amazing classes at Redwood High, Terra Linda High and at Venetia Valley Elementary and I am looking forward to new classes starting up very soon at MLK Jr. Academy.

I believe strongly in the therapeutic power of music. Music is a powerful learning tool for any population and helps develop a huge range of skills that aid in cognitive development such as pattern recognition, listening, concentration, memory and communication skills. I have seen all of my students make amazing progress in these and other areas and I am very proud of all of them.

In my classes we use many kinds of percussion instruments (frame drums, bongos, bass drums, tambourines, shakers, woodblocks, etc.) to make beautiful music. We usually start by playing a simple beat and we follow along as the beat speeds up and slows down and as it gets louder and softer.

We also incorporate numbers and counting into our playing to show how numbers and math are an integral part of music.

In addition to these tools, I dedicate a portion of each lesson to “Question and Answer” or “Call and Response” in which I play short rhythmic patterns which the class carefully listens to and then plays back to me. This tool is especially useful in developing listening, memory and concentration skills.

Also, as a method for developing individual communication skills, I give each student a chance to find their own voice by improvising any rhythm they like while the rest of the class maintains a simple groove. This empowers the students, giving them a sense of original creation.

Finally, because we want to have fun, we end our workshops with a free-form jam session which always leaves us with smiles!

I would like to give many thanks to Nydia Algazzali Gonzalez for her participation in the classes at Terra Linda High where we work together. In those classes we have incorporated movement and dance (which Nydia leads) into the music workshops and have put together a performance for parents. She is an inspiring teacher and I have been lucky to work with her.

I also want to thank all the teachers and and teacher’s aides that helped out immensely during our sessions. My work has been made much easier by everyone’s help and participation.

Lastly I’d like to thank Youth in Arts as an organization for giving me the opportunity to work with such great kids, teachers and schools and I look forward to future opportunities to continue this important work.


Thank you so much!



Shakespeare at Davidson Middle!

Seventh grade students at Davidson Middle School enjoyed a fun theatre workshop with Mentor Artist Melissa Briggs.

Students in the Shakespeare Workshop with Melissa

During the Renaissance curriculum, history teachers Mr. Snow and Mr. Cosgriff invited Melissa to reinforce their lessons with an emphasis on the role of William Shakespeare in the cultural ‘rebirth‘ that reinvented Europe and England in the 14th-17th centuries.  Students explored the Bard’s role in the Renaissance.  They discussed how the timing was perfect for Will because of the growing popularization of theatre as wealthy merchants became patrons of the arts at the same time that the feudal order broke down allowing peasants leisure time to spend as they pleased – watching plays!  Kids examined the vernacular language of the era and made many connections to their own generation’s commonly spoken language.  Up on their feet, the young actors played an exciting games that mined the rich material of Shakespeare’s many plays.

A famous Shakespearean death scene

Lessons highlighted Shakespeare’s history plays and reviewed curriculum key words and dates.  Melissa demystified the “weird and old fashioned” language of the late 1500 and early 1600’s by encouraging thoughtful group analysis that drew thematic parallels to the students appreciation of their own contemporary lyric artists, from Lauren Hill to Kanye West.  Finally, students performed a key scene from each act of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; the young actors and directors staged the whole play in tableaux, a dramatic technique (popular in the Renaissance) that tells an action story through a still (or frozen) picture.

Davidson student practices her "tableaux" pose

As you can tell by these images, it was a joy to work with the students and teachers and Davidson!

Introduction to Medieval Music at Davidson Middle School

Medieval music specialists Annette Bauer (co-director of Bay-area based medieval ensemble Cançonier; medieval recorders, bagpipes, bells) and Michelle Levy (vielle) introduced 10 classes of 7th graders at Davidson Middle School to medieval Western music through live performance, guided listening to recorded samples, instrument iconography, and student discussions about timeline and social background to the music examples presented. Some of the concepts discussed were the different strata of medieval European society (church, court, city, countryside) in which music was composed, performed, and notated, ideas of plainchant, polyphony, improvisation, courtly music, dance music, some medieval musical forms, as well as examples of early notation. Instruments played live included the vielle (a medieval precursor of the modern violin) various sizes of medieval recorders, bagpipes, and a medieval bell tree. These presentations tied in with the students’ history of medieval Western Europe unit that had been finished just prior to the musicians’ visit.

Botanical Illustration Project

Artist Christine Elder with 7th grade students.Students in Trish Mihalek’s 7th grade science classroom at Hall Middle School worked with Mentor Artist Christine Elder to create a booklet on botanical illustration that correlated to their classroom unit on flowering plant life cycles. Students honed their observation skills while learning methods of realistic drawing and watercolor painting techniques. They learned about the ‘elements of art’ including concepts of line, shape, form, texture and color while creating their books. The booklets will be featured at the school’s Open House night this spring.

Dances for All Kids: VSA in Schools

Melinda Stuart’s Special Day Class of students got off to a rocket start this year when Youth In Arts Mentor Artist Tom Mayock jazzed up their world with his collection of dances from the Jazz genre. Ah, the kids smiles were peculiarly rich, the feeling of being in the groove was apparent with Tom’s hit classic,”Be Cool No Matter What”, and Cotton Eyed Joe as a contemporary ho down elevated all our spirits.

When working with students that have developmentally delays, the dance arts are a perfect vehicle for developing visual and spatial skills, increasing gross motor skills, and promoting self esteem.  Forever inspiring is to visit these kids and have them meet you with a impeccably performed dance, graciously in tune to the learning environment Melinda Stuart has cultivated.

Tom has also joined San Jose Middle School, Special Day Class Teacher Cindy Evans in providing Vision Strength Accessibility dance classes, with the goals of bringing these children into young adulthood with a sense of responsibility, sincerity, autonomy and self esteem.

Thank you Melinda, Cindy , Jeff, Susan, and Sharon and all of the teachers and aides, for bringing such courage, compassion and creativity into our lives.

Native American Dance at Sutter Elementary

Eddie Madril, Fancy Dance

Brothers Eddie and Marcos Madril put on a wonderful Native American Dance and Music performance at Sutter Elementary School in Santa Clara last week. A third grade teacher commented that Eddie and Marcos “were very energetic, fun to watch and very smart and knowledgeable about Native American culture.”

Highlights of the day included the entire school dancing with the performers, Eddie performing the amazing Hoop Dance, and the beautiful Native American dress. Yet again, Youth In Arts’ artists put on a captivating and highly lauded school assembly performance!

A second grade teacher added

My students have never been so excited about a school assembly! They could not stop talking about how much they enjoyed Marcos and Eddie.  They did such a great job engaging the students.  Eddie talked to the students in a way that made the information accessible to all students. They were very informative!  It was a great experience.

Eddie Madril, Hoop Dance