Pacific Boychoir Academy

Community Subscriber

Private School
125 students
Email: admissions [at] PacificBoychoir.orgPhone: (510) 652-4722
215 Ridgeway Avenue Oakland, CA 94611
Program Type: 
All-boys school
Editors' Notes: 

“Transformative!” “PBA changed my son’s life.”

Learn more here!

Pacific Boychoir is a one-of-a-kind school

  • The only secular, independent boychoir school in the US, offering boys, grades 3-8, rigorous academics plus daily music and choral training.

3rd- 8th grade boys thrive in a “Best for Boys” academic environment

  • Small classes with engaging project-based study, where teachers ensure that each boy’s learning style and academic needs are recognized and individually accommodated.
  • Interactive classroom dynamics help boys develop confidence through developing and communicating their ideas with both logic and passion, while respectfully considering the views of others. 

All boys receive 15 hours of music instruction a week

  • Daily music program of specialized music education and choral training, where a boy can  achieve college-level proficiency
  • Music education helps boy develop skills of self-discipline and personal responsibility, while providing meaningful collaboration with school peers.
  • International, domestic, and local performance activities build strong bonds, open new worlds, and provide the boys the pride of achieving high levels of musical and vocal skills.   

Music + Academics together exceed the sum of the parts

  • Each boy receives a complete education he cannot get anywhere else, with each area influencing the other through acquisition of skills of self-discipline, responsibility to the community through excellent rehearsal and performance behavior, rigorous attention to assignments, and support of fellow learners.  

No prior musical experience required, just a love of music and learning

  • Students need not aspire to become professional musicians, although their training will set them well on their way should they choose that path.

A PBA boy carries his experiences throughout life

  • PBA graduates are well-prepared for high school, private and public
  • Many continue their affiliation with PBA by participating in the after school choir program
  • School traditions, such a camps, family dinners, touring, and regular town-hall gatherings strengthen community and create beloved traditions.

Academic subjects offered at PBA are: Math, Science, Humanities, Spanish, Art, and Physical Education.  Extra-curricular activities include student-organized clubs, and an enthusiastic basketball team. 

The high levels of musical and performance achievement have been recognized through invitations for the boys to perform with the San Francisco Symphony, the Marin Symphony, Festival Opera and others.  In addition, PBA singers have performed on GRAMMY award-winning recordings with the San Francisco Symphony. 

Pacific Boychoir Academy welcomes and is enriched by boys of all ethnic, economic, and geographic backgrounds.

Contact us to discover how PBA might be your child's next step toward reaching musical and academic goals.

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • We are quite intrigued by the Pacific Boys Choir for our ADHD kid for middle school. However, there has been a big change in leadership recently, and we'd like to get more information from the school community on how things are going currently. We are especially interested in how they measure up academically. Thank you! 

    My son attended PBA from 5th through 8th grade, and just graduated from 8th grade this past June (2018).  Despite the many changes over the years, we could always depend on PBA being strong both in world-class music performance and theory and in challenging, differentiated academics. Boys do not have to be musical prodigies to attend -- the music staff will teach them how to perform on a world-class level, with instruction on each step of the way in achievable chunks to help them succeed.  The teamwork and leadership skills they learn in this process will be valuable for life, even if they do not pursue music after high school (although a number of boys do!).  Academically, the small classrooms allow for differentiated instruction, for special projects, and for doing things like putting on a full Shakespeare play (all-male, as in Shakespeare's day!).  Occasionally, there have been a few less-than stellar teachers (as at all the middle schools our family has experiences; see below). But largely, I have been very satisfied with my son's learning and progress, and his academic preparation for high school and beyond.  I will add that, while my younger son who I am speaking about here was at PBA for 4 full years (from 5th through 8th grade), my older son attended 4 (yes, 4) different middle schools for grades 6-8 and we never found a good fit. So our family has experience with 5 different public and private middle schools in Oakland and Berkeley. No school is perfect, but PBA was by far the best fit for our family and for my younger son. I believe that the academic leadership and the teachers who are there now (with little change from my son's 8th grade year last year) are a great team all around, who care deeply about the academic courses they teach and who have the talent and experience to provide a great academic experience in the coming years.  Feel free to email me via BPN if you'd like more specific information from a recent parent alumna.

    I am the parent of a 5th grader at PBA, this is our first year at the school.  My son also has a dx of ADD/ADHD.  We were in the after school choir for about three years before making the transition to the day school.  I decided to make the transition for the following reasons:  1) I believed that the smaller class size would allow my son's struggles with focus and follow-through to be seen and worked with, which wasn't happening in a larger class size.  2)  The high school boys who graduated from the school, but were still in the PBA choir, were incredibly impressive.  Each event I attended where these boys performed I thought, "I want one of those" and I could visualize my son being "one of those."   3) I think there is something cathartic about the breathing that goes along with singing that is mindful and works well with ADD, and really, all kids.   4)  The boys who graduate from PBA seem to go to the high schools of their choice and to choice high schools.  5) I also looked into the leadership change which happened a few years ago but felt incredibly confident in Natascha Bach who became the head of school as she has had years of educational and music experience.  Like all private schools, PBA uses the ERBs which is a standardized test to measure performance with similarly situated schools.  I'm not sure how relevant the results are and think that the fact that the graduates are going on to good schools is a reliable indicator of the academics.   6) The experiences that come with being a PBA day school boy are incredible.  My son just sang with the San Francisco Symphony and watching him at Davies Hall receive a 10 minute standing ovation (okay, Michael Tilson Thomas was pretty good too) was indescribable. The amount of practice and poise and responsibility that each of these young boys took on to perform at this level will undoubtedly benefit them going forward.   Finally, after the back to school night where the parents met all the teachers, I felt a huge amount of relief at having made the switch to PBA.   Each of the teachers was interesting and engaging and seemed to really like being at the school.    Also, I have shared with the teachers my son's 504 and where he is in need of support, which I feel has been welcomed information and has opened an ongoing dialog.   

    Hope this helps.   Please reach out to me if you have any additional questions.   

    We have a 10-year-old who started the 5th grade at the PBA day school this year after being in the after-school program for the past three.  He really enjoyed the after-school program and has learned a lot of music and music theory.  He loves to sing and frequently sings around the house, or with his school mate with whom he rides to school.  He is challenged by the school work and enjoys his classes which include 1.5 hours of singing every day.  Last month they had a memorable musical experience performing with the SF Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.

    We also have a 13-year-old who attended the after-school three years ago and loved it, but then middle school happened and he got distracted there.  Now he is in 8th grade and by his own choice is back in the after-school program after a two year break.  He rides AC Transit to the program twice a week and really enjoys it and enjoys the other kids.  He has been heard singing at home, alone and harmonizing with his brother.

    There have been adjustments and restructuring at PBA due to the departure of one of the founders, management shakeups, and financial problems.  There has been a loss of students and reduction in staff due to these changes.  A large contribution came in last year taking pressure off the financial situation.  The hope is that the restructuring  will produce increased enrollment over the coming years and a stable future.  Meanwhile the staff is enthusiastic about the school and is working hard delivering a quality education with lots of enrichment.  The teaching staff  is very qualified, stable, and energized.  We went to the recent back-to-school night and came away impressed with the staff and grateful for the education our boy is receiving.  The boys are mostly engaged and seem happy to be there.  Parents of the boys, some of whom work at the school, speak highly of the PBA experience, two used the word “magical” to describe it.

    HI--I have a 6th grader at PBA. We started in 4th grade and were present for the leadership changes. Our family absolutely loves PBA. Yes, the leadership changes were hard, but we stuck with it. The school feels very stable, and we feel comfortable and confident with the current board, administration and teachers. Academically, the school is phenomenal. As a small school, each child gets individual attention so they he can meet the high set standards. Each teacher has an impressive background and education, and the approach to learning is as important at the material itself. We initially chose PBA because my son was bored and unchallenged in school, and he had no passion for learning. PBA has completely turned that around. Of course, the music program is amazing, but it also serves as a boost to all other academic subjects. I highly recommend that you check out the school.

    PBA has been a great middle school for my two boys! I have a recent grad who is now in high school. He tells me (unprompted!) that he feels completely ready for his high school classes and schedule because PBA prepared him so well.  My younger son is still at PBA and he is learning so much there - math, science, humanities, plus Latin and Spanish. The academics are great and the music program is incredible. They have taught him to sing professionally, even though he had zero music experience prior to PBA.  It's truly amazing. In fact they're singing the national anthem at the Warriors game in a couple weeks, he's very excited about that. For me, the best part is the small class sizes. My son gets a ridiculous amount of individual attention and help with his needs. The leadership change a couple years ago was a big deal, but the community rallied and everything has stabilized nicely since then. You should come take a tour and have your son do a shadow day so you can see what it's like. You won't find anything else like it anywhere.

    We feel extremely fortunate to have found Pacific Boychoir for our son.  He started over 5 years ago in the afterschool choir and has just entered the day school program for the 5th grade.  Of the many after-school activities that we have tried, including competitive soccer, which our son loves,  PBA has been by far and away his favorite.  He is completely engaged by this experience.  The chance for him to come together with others to create such beautiful music is awesome.

    Entering the day school has been great so far.  The musical education is incredible, with professional singing direction throughout, I can't imagine being able to get anywhere else.

    The school has gone through a leadership change in the last 2 years.  The former artistic director was dynamic, fantastic and he left.  I believe the day school lost many students at this time and there was a scary moment when the financial outlook seemed quite difficult.  In response to that, many incredible, qualified people came forward to help the school.  The board has been re-invigorated and the results have been promising so far.  The school has secured a significant financial donation that seems to have put it on more secure financial footing for the coming years and plans have been put into place that seem to bode well for the future.

    The current Head of School is wonderful.  She has a Professional Music and Education background of teaching for many years and she has surrounded herself with a dedicated staff who are very concerned about the children and the school.  We feel confident that very good decisions are likely to result from school leadership.

    Finally regarding Academics.  Our son came from the Spanish immersion program in the Berkeley public schools.  In the main we were happy with his academic instruction there.  We recently met all faculty at the open house and in each case came away very impressed with each of the teachers.  In addition to Humanities, Science, Math, Spanish and PE, there is a course dealing with social interaction, leadership, art and other topics.  In higher years there is also Latin instruction from a PHD in classics. The classes are quite small which we think is really good and from our experience the boys can get help or special attention as needed. 

    You mention your child has experienced ADHD.  Our son is adjusting a bit still, to the longer school day.  Singing is done near the end of the day for 2 hours I believe and at the beginning he was certainly coming home very tired, unaccustomed to standing for long periods.  There is definitely homework and it can be a bit challenging when they are preparing for a big concert like the recent one for the San Francisco Symphony performance of Stravinsky's Persephone at Davies hall as there were several evening practices.

    I hope that addresses some of your questions and those of any who might be looking for a wonderful after-school or middle school "grammy award winning" choir and outstanding musical education and from our experience so far, excellent academic preparation.

    This is a very, very special place.

    Our son attended PBA 4th-8th grade (and 2.5 yrs after-school before that). We consider ourselves so lucky to live in a place that has a school as unusually special as this. Our boy has graduated with college level music theory, he's sung with the choir alongside local and world greats, and traveled to 5 different countries. This is a priceless middle school education. It's a little gem of a school just waiting for families to discover it for their boys. The music staff are excellent and kind. The current academic staff are excellent too. It's small so your boy will get a lot of individual attention. When the Founder-Director retired from the school a few years ago, things were rocky for a while, but the new Principal, Ms Natascha Bach (who taught 4th, then 4th-5th, and the after school Intermezzi troupe, and now also the new girls' Sorella troupe), is exactly what the school needs -- strong, steady, big-hearted, and the perfect bridge between PBA's musical and academic missions. This school is not for every boy, but it's an amazing opportunity for many. It's definitely worth investigating. Ask to attend a Monday night dinner -- a lot is on display: happy boy energy meeting PBA customs; rehearsing for tour dining behavior, chorister camaraderie and older boys mentoring younger boys. Finally, the cherry on the top, summer away camp at Bishop's Ranch in Healdsburg, winter away weekend at Dorothy's Rest, and meeting the PBA alum who come as counselors and to mix their tenor and bass voices with the younger choristers. ~~ grateful parent of PBA alum and high school chorister

    My 13 year old son has been singing in the after school program at PBA for 3 years. He joined the day school as an 8th grader this fall after ten years of Waldorf schooling. We made the switch in part due to commute challenges as well as our desire to increase his musical training time. The transition has been fantastic. There are many things to love about PBA, but foremost for me is the warmth, care and professionalism of the staff, who have been incredibly welcoming and supportive at every step. My son was recently diagnosed with processing speed challenges and other associated learning issues. After my initial consultation with the director, I felt great confidence that the small class size would allow my son to receive the attention and accommodation that would best support his needs. So far, he is quite satisfied with his experience at the day school. He is excited by the varied classes offered, including Latin and swimming, in addition to the extensive musical training. This vibrant, tight-knit community has been the perfect landing spot for our family. I feel enormous gratitude for the significant efforts of all of the wonderful people who continue to build and grow this amazing and unparalleled resource for boys. 

Parent Reviews

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Welcome to the East Bay! We’re actually in the middle of a move to the East Coast, so have similar questions but in the other direction! I’m not sure what gender your 10-year old is, but if you have a boy who would like a smaller school, I’d suggest checking out Pacific Boychoir Academy (PBA). It’s a secular, private choir school (no music experience necessary) with a very intimate elementary-grade 8 day school. It’s located in the Piedmont Ave area, just up the street from Oakland Tech. The tuition for elementary is very modest compared to the bigger private schools. The boys at PBA split their time between music and academics, and have the opportunity to sing and travel around the world. The kids I met there were astonishingly poised and all-around great kids.

Update to my 2020 post...

My son is entering 8th grade, after 3 years of after-school and 2 years at the day school.  We continue to feel it is a gift for him to be there.  He has developed musically, academically and emotionally.  The small environment is embracing and empowering and the teaching and music education is excellent.  Can't say enough good things.

My son started at PBA in the fall of 2018 as a 4th grader and has had a wonderful experience.  He was not part of the after school program but the boys were very accepting of him and welcoming right from the beginning.  The teachers are very dedicated at the school and really work with the needs of each individual student.  The musical training is excellent as well.  My son actually told me that he was amazed and happy to find other friends that were like him in interests. The boys are given many wonderful performance opportunities. Even with the shelter-in-place currently happening, the teachers have found creative ways to keep the students engaged and prospering. I highly recommend this school.

My son is in his second year at PBA school and I can’t speak highly enough about the school.  The teachers are very dedicated and are able to tailor their teaching to the boys’ individual strengths and needs.   When I look at my son’s classmates, I see how unique they are - something that is celebrated in this school environment.  The staff really go above and beyond in what they offer to our boys - including supporting them in creating clubs, extra activities, plays and sports.   My son is now in the 6th grade and is blossoming academically and musically.  He has been part of some remarkable performances at various venues including TED talks, the Oakland Cathedral and others.  Upcoming performances this year are scheduled with the Marin Symphony and the SF Symphony.  While we are huge supporters of public education, this school has been such a great fit for our son’s individual interests and strengths.

Our child has attended PBA since 4th grade, and the experience has been life changing. My kid loves going to school every day, has continued opportunities to perform, and has gotten great academic support. I highly recommend this school.

RE: School for "nerdy" boy? ()

Does your son like listening to music, does he like to sing or at least 'experiment' with his voice?  If so, you might consider whether the Pacific Boychoir Academy might be a good fit for him. Boys of all types and personalities from Grades 4 through 8 share singing, camaraderie, and performances and tours together, and many of the graduates continue singing in the after-school program and touring through high school. The boys are also taught to be gentlemen, since they perform across the country and around the world, so a lot of the middle school 'yuck' that most of us experienced is channeled into more positive activities and teamwork. The music training is unmatched, and the academics are very good, and the 8th grade graduates go on to many Bay Area high schools, including the most prestigious private high schools (College Prep, Athenian, Lick-Wilmerding) as well as Berkeley, Oakland, and Lamorinda public high schools, among others. My son, now in 7th grade, started at PBA in 5th grade but I would have liked to have had him start in January of 4th grade when he first became interested in singing except that he had such a fantastic 4th grade teacher at our public elementary school at the time. I think there are openings in 6th grade now. You might consider calling the school to see about a parent and a student tour,

As the parent of a 7th grader who started at PBA in 5th grade, I am frequently in awe of the opportunities presented to my son at PBA and what the school has enabled him to accomplish and experience at such a young age. This is not an exaggeration, so let me give some details! There are 3 main pillars of ‘awesomeness’ for me as a parent.

First, the music: In addition to the remarkable talents of the founding music director and the rest of the music staff to teach and mentor boys - some of whom have had no previous formal music training - to sing at the world-class level, the boys have also had the chance to perform under the direction of some of the best conductors in the world (e.g., Michael Tilson Thomas, Gustavo Dudamel, Kurt Masur), giving them first-hand perspectives on how the most esteemed professionals in the world accomplish their goals. Over the past decade, they have traveled to perform on all 5 (inhabited) continents, often staying with host families so they get to know people and cultures all over the world. (And we reciprocate by hosting choristers from around the world visiting the Bay Area a few days at a time, further opening our sons’ lives to ideas and people from around the world). In addition to numerous formal concerts, the boys have been invited to sing the national anthem at the games of local professional and college sports teams, at the memorial services for Nelson Mandela at both the National Cathedral in Washington DC and San Francisco City Hall, at the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, on America’s Got Talent, and even at the opening of new Bay Bridge! The boys work hard to sing at this level but they rise to the occasion with the hard work, discipline, and the collaborative team effort required. The music staff breaks these large accomplishments down into doable steps that increase the boys’ confidence, with amazing musical results that routinely bring tears of joy to the eyes of parents in the audience (and even to the eyes of people we don’t know sitting next to us!). Most boys will not go on to be professional musicians, of course (although, by the way, all the boys who have taken the college Advanced Placement music exam four years early at the end of 8th grade have gotten the top score of 5!); but singing is something they can take pleasure from for the rest of their lives, and I am already grateful for that for my son.

Second is the academics:  our sons dive deeply into their academic subjects, sometimes using music history, lyrics and languages of the music they are singing to enrich their academic studies. As with many small schools, there has been some teacher turnover over the years, but I am so happy with all the young, enthusiastic and dedicated teachers on staff right now and what my son is learning. Of particular note, as part of English class, the middle school boys put on several performances of Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors this past spring that had the audience rolling in laughter at their astute interpretations and comic timing.

And, finally, the third pillar of awesomeness for me is the character building and camaraderie at PBA. This is the most polite group of late elementary school and middle school boys you will ever meet. That doesn’t mean they are perfect angels, of course, but they are encouraged and taught to be kind to each other, to take care of and mentor the younger boys, and to work together for the best singing they can do and experiences they can have together. They also meet mayors and vice presidents and ambassadors, and the school makes sure they are ready for such occasions and opportunities. Finally, the boys have fun doing all of this; I can’t say I had much fun in middle school, so I am grateful my son is having such a terrific experience.  We first learned about PBA at an open house, and my son had a hunch this would be a good fit and place for him. He was right!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Dec 2014

Pacific Boychoir Academy (PBA) has transformed my 4th grader. He has attended both public and private schools; challenged by neither. He is smart and focused but often bored in school, unmotivated to attend or try. Since starting PBA two months ago, he is the first one awake every day, organizes and packs what he needs for school, prepares his own breakfast and lunch, and then heads to school with enthusiasm. I thought the longer day would leave him exhausted, but he comes home with stories of, ''we made bread'', ''our tower was the tallest and didn't fall over in the wind'', ''I found a new book series'', singing with his friends, playing every kind of ball at lunch, and ''I ran the fastest during PE!''. When asked who his friends are at school, the answer is, ''everyone'': there are no grade barriers. Another outstanding quality of the school is their ability to produce gentlemen. The level of respect the boys show each other, adults, and belongings, and their fluency in expressing themselves are astounding, and will take them far. Culture and diversity is a large part of the school. They provide opportunities for national and international travel and they host a number of international choirs, increasing the boys' awareness of our global community. As parents, we couldn't be more thrilled to see our son provided with an environment where he finds like-minded peers, and is challenged to grow in academics and music while becoming a global citizen. PBA demands a full-time commitment from the whole family, but in return they provide an extended family to you. Within weeks of joining, we found community that had been sadly lacking for our newly transplanted family. The rigor is not for everyone, but at the end of the day the reward of having a stimulated and happy child is priceless. bluefishes

Dec 2014

The Pacific Boychoir Academy is an absolute gem of a school, and anyone with a son who loves music should seriously consider giving him the opportunity to reach his full potential in this rare combination of top-notch academics and world-class singing.

We first discovered PBA through a friend who, like us, has a son who loves to sing. Our local public elementary school - where our son attended through 5th grade - had various after-school choir and musical theater programs, but none of them made him feel comfortable because they were predominantly composed of girls. We enrolled him in the PBA's after-school program for two years and he loved not only singing at PBA but the peer support that came with it (read: being surrounded by other boys who love to sing).

We chose to send him to PBA starting in 6th grade, first and foremost because of its strong academic program, and how closely it ties in with the music taught there. Our son has excelled in Math and languages, in particular, and the class sizes at PBA are small enough that teachers allow for differentiation, giving their advanced students more challenging work. As a parent, it's also reassuring to know that all of the teachers here really get to know their students, evidenced by the fact that we seem to always learn a thing or two we didn't know about our son at parent-teacher conferences.

The music program at PBA is what makes it stand apart from other independent schools, and we were completely drawn to the idea that our son could participate in a world-class ensemble at such a young age. The study of music and singing at PBA is serious and rigorous, and the boys learn that they have to work together and make their voices blend in order to succeed. What the boys experience in their brief time at PBA is unlike anything I could ever have imagined - from singing on stage with top symphonies to traveling the world on concert tour every summer. My heart literally ached with pride the first time I saw my son performing with the SF Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall as 6th grader.

Finally, the expectations that PBA places upon their students are extraordinarily high, and I have been astounded by the changes in manners, poise and sense of teamwork in our son. I credit this to both the teachers and music staff, who seem to tolerate healthy quantities of boy-generated exuberance, yet then manage to transform that energy into extraordinary results - both in the classroom and on the stage. PBA Parent

Nov 2014

Attending the Pacific Boychoir Academy has been nothing short of transformational for our son. I enrolled him as a 4th grader three years ago, and while it was a big decision to move him from his public school, I am so glad that I did - and can't imagine ever going back.

PBA offers an outstanding academic program with small class sizes, dedicated teachers, and an engaging curriculum that incorporates an experiential approach to learning. My son's academic progress has skyrocketed. As a result of the individual attention and encouragement his teachers have given him, he has become serious about his studies, and now genuinely desires to learn and to excel. From a boy who was not much of a reader before attending PBA he has become a boy who reads and quotes Shakespeare on his own. The music program is unparalleled, giving the boys opportunities to travel internationally, perform with world-class symphonies and, of course, become excellent singers. My son is learning self-discipline, poise, self-confidence and the benefits of hard work - skills he'll be able to draw on no matter where his interests take him in the future.

Importantly, my son absolutely loves PBA. He's happy, engaged, motivated to do his best and taking pride in his work, both academic and musical. Recently, as he was telling me about his day over dinner, he paused and said, ''Thank you for letting me go to PBA. It has changed my life.'' It has, and I am thrilled that he has this opportunity. Tess F

Nov 2014

PBA is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for your son: a small and caring staff who know every boy personally, world-class singing instruction and performance opportunities, academics that challenge and support monumental growth, and an environment of respect and reverence for life. It sounds too good to be true, I know! My son started at PBA in the 5th grade and has flourished in its nurturing yet demanding setting. The teachers truly care about the subjects (and the kids) they teach and have taught my son to be an engaged learner, inside and outside of the classroom. I wasn't sure how he would do with the performance aspectI knew he loved singing but didn't know if he would love performing for hours on end! - but this too has been a joy. It's definitely difficult at times - these boys work very hard - but always worth it. And as you can imagine, the camaraderie that results from the boys' sharing of this demanding, special thing they do as choristers is noteworthy too. It minimizes much of the social difficulty that usually comes along with middle school. I highly encourage anyone interested in the school to set up a time to visit - you won't be disappointed. Happy parent of a middle schooler

Oct 2014

Our son recently began 4th grade at Pacific Boychoir Academy, and we couldn't be happier with it. He was in a public school before this but he wasn't happy there. His grades were good but he found it to be uninspiring, stifling, and full of the stereotypical social divides (e.g. ''jocks'' vs. ''nerds''). We were getting calls and emails from the principal and his teacher nearly once a week. It was rough. We knew we needed to make a change. We looked at several other schools in the area and seriously considered some of them. Then we heard about PBA. Our son sat in on classes twice and we met with the faculty and other parents, which convinced us that PBA was the right place for our son. So far it has proven to be. The classes are small. The education is more hands-on, as opposed to the worksheets and rote memorization he was doing in public school. And the music aspect has really helped our son to self-regulate - better than any other thing we've tried. Our son isn't especially musical, and that was a concern of ours. But the school assured us that a boy doesn't have to be a prodigy to thrive in the choir. What they emphasize in the choir is wonderful: self-discipline, poise, and effort. These lessons are already taking root in our son. Best of all he's happy. He comes home excited about science or PE or a project they're doing. He talks about school, he's making friends, and he genuinely likes it. PBA is a very special place and we can't recommend it enough. Anon

Sept 2013

Re: Which Schools Use A Best-for-Boys Approach?
Based on my son's experience I would not recommend the Pacific Boychoir Academy. Although we thought they'd be boy-friendly because of the ads we saw, there has been nothing about the school to suggest to us that they understand boys' issues. The biggest problem for us has been that everything revolves around singing. The rehearsal, performance, and touring demands do not leave time for things like sports, musical instruments, theatre, or outdoor activities. There are plenty of music instructors, but the school does not have a counselor or a learning specialist so boys with learning differences or attention problems do not get the type of learning assistance they need. Academics have been consistently secondary to the singing. Parent

Dec 2012

Re: Seeking excellent music program for 8 year old
You didn't say whether your 8-year-old is a boy or girl, but if he's a boy, you should really consider the Pacific Boychoir Academy (off Piedmont Ave in Oakland). It's a world-class music training and performance institution, with music integrated into the day school curriculum. The boys learn music through the most fundamental instrument--the voice--which lays the groundwork for musical achievement on any instrument and in any style. Plus, the academics are stellar--art, sciences, languages (Latin! Who learns Latin anymore?!). Really a gem of a school. Fan of PBA

Aug 2012

Re: finding a choir for my musical 7-year-old
It's great that you're looking at all the local children's choirs. If your child is a boy, he'll have a wonderful time at the Pacific Boychoir Academy, Ask about their financial aid program. PBA has a happy, kid-friendly outlook that draws out extraordinary music from the boys.

If your child is a girl, the San Francisco Girls Chorus has an East Bay program (rehearsals at Crowden). PBA after-school parent

Jan 2012

PBA is like no other school around, as in the only one of its kind west of the Mississippi. It is a once in a lifetime experience for you and your son, with an A+ music program and an academic experience that will soon, and in good part already does, beat any of the best around. Come see; you'll never regret it!

It is also a world-class boy choir performing right here in the Bay Area. Two upcoming concerts are 30 March: American Music, including American Spirituals! (1st Congregational in Oakland) and an ''Urban Cathedral'' concert at Rock Wall Winery in Alameda (TBA, but likely first days of May.) TN

Oct 2011

Re: School for socially anxious 9-year-old with ADHD

My son is now 11 and was diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, and anxiety when he was 7. It was getting worse in 2nd and 3rd grades. We were in a private school in San Francisco that boasted 2 learning specialists per grade and 2 counselors - he did not thrive and in fact, became more anxious and lost his self-confidence. Last year, we decided to commute to Oakland to have him attend the Pacific Boychoir Academy. My son enjoys music and singing and this environment has changed everything for him. Since we started there, he is so much less anxious just due to the supportive environment, small class size, and attention he gets. The musical aspect of the school has also had a profound effect on helping him stay calm and focused - he has come alive through music. He has been taking medication for ADD for years, but finally the days of tutoring and struggling over homework are gone - he's happy and motivated. The issues he used to encounter daily have disappeared. I know from experience that it's worth looking at many school options to find the absolute right one - I'm a believer that it's about environment - identify what makes him anxious (numbers of kids, pace, different interests, need for praise, etc.) and then look for a place that really addresses what he needs - it's worked for us. I've found that small classes, creative programs, and individualized attention go a long way for kids with ADD and anxiety. I'm happy to share more about our situation. kts

Oct 2011

The Pacific Boychoir Academy is an amazing, one-of-a-kind middle school that has changed our lives and been transformational for my son. Our son is a current 5th grader and joined the school last year in 4th grade. We were looking for excellent academics with small class sizes and an engaging, experiential approach with individualized attention to accommodate learning differences. We also wanted an environment that fostered self-confidence, responsibility and personal achievement. Wow - the Pacific Boychoir Academy has provided all that and so much more. Our son enjoyed singing before joining the school but wouldn't have necessarily chosen to sing classical music or study music theory on his own. Studying music, singing in other languages and being exposed to all types of music has definitely had a positive impact on his academic achievement and motivation as well as love of music and performing. His self-confidence has blossomed and he came home from a three-week tour to the Baltic States with a new appreciation for the life he has and the deep cultural traditions and history of other countries. What an experience! He has built new social and team skills and is proud to be part of an award-winning boychoir where everyone counts and everyone contributes. This is a school that anyone should consider for their son - don't let the music education part cause you to pause if your son hasn't done it before - you won't believe how this makes such as difference. We commute from a distance to attend this school and feel so fortunate to have found such a perfect fit for our son. kts

Oct 2011

We enrolled our nine-year-old son in fourth grade at The Pacific Boychoir Academy (PBA) last year, and he loves the place. It is positively electrifying for him, as well as for us, as we have witnessed his personal growth and academic success, and we have marveled at the music that comes from this school choir.

PBA is a young and growing independent school that was founded in 1998 with six boys, and it has quickly established itself prominently with more than 160 boys and young men, ages 4-18, in seven choirs. It is the only choir school on the West Coast. PBA has earned Grammy awards and accolades in the press. The school has one of the lowest student-teacher ratios for independent schools in the Bay Area, and it is a member of ERISA. Today more than 50 boys attend the day school, and there are all kinds of boys. Financial assistance is available and all are encouraged to apply. No previous music experience is required.

Our son had a transformative experience as a fourth grader. He was given opportunities that all PBA boys are given, to contribute and succeed. He performed with symphonies and other choirs, and he traveled with the Troubadors and staff to Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, for a three-week summer tour, performing on a rigorous schedule, and he loved it. His first words to us at the airport after this trip were, "I wonder where we're going next year!"

This school builds a boy's self-confidence, develops a sense of pride in doing well, and stirs an interest in taking on difficult assignments. The boys learn that they can do anything they want to do in life, if they are willing to work, to cooperate with others, and participate in something that is important. Each boy contributes, using his particular strengths, to produce a tremendous outcome. The bonds of friendship grow while in school and learning and performing music. For example, on Monday evenings, all the Troubadors eat dinner together with the staff during rehearsal.

The teachers are extremely well educated and hold extensive experience in teaching and interacting with this age group, and they are acutely aware of how boys learn. Active, hands-on approaches are favored over passive, sedentary ones. A great deal of thinking goes into creating the academic and music programs for these five years, from ages 9-14, which are critical for personal, social, and academic development. Music is one way that a boy's success is leveraged into his academic career. For example, the staff integrates areas of study, such as music and math. Also, history comes to life as students consider the times of great composers. Upperclassmen participate in a Shakespeare play, drawing upon the confidence and presentation skills used in musical performance.

The small group of teachers works tirelessly and selflessly, and they are exceptionally skilled at what they do. They care deeply about the boys, and they get to know each boy individually. The eighth grade graduation is handled exquisitely, where every graduate is recognized for his particular strengths, individualism, and achievements. The teachers inspire my confidence in them to teach, to serve as role models, and to help our son grow into a young adult. The students are in great hands. We are relieved to have found a school where smart people teach students well, creatively, and mindfully, with concern for their lives after they complete eighth grade. After one year, PBA has earned our complete trust and respect. Probably the most gratifying thing is that these boys are happy while they are challenged to learn, and that is perhaps PBA's greatest asset and reason to celebrate. Amy M.

Oct 2011

Re: East Bay School for Boys - reviews

It's great that you're exploring single-gender school options - in the late-elementary and middle school stages it works really well for many kids, as your daughter's Julia Morgan experience must show. I'd strongly recommend looking into the East Bay's first all-boys school, now well established and flourishing in its lovely new campus - the Pacific Boychoir Academy, a Grades 4-8 EBISA school. Since you asked specifically about high school placement, I'll give a summary of that aspect of the PBA. My son is a recent grad, who, like many of his classmates, was accepted into all the high schools to which he applied. He chose to go to College Prep and is doing very well there. Among independent schools, Athenian and College Prep are the most common choices made by PBA grads; those who choose parochial schools go to St. Mary's, O'Dowd, and St. Joseph's, and I know one is at De La Salle; the most commonly chosen public schools are Berkeley High (the IB program is popular) and Oakland Tech (Engineering or Paideia).

The PBA is not a conservatory - it's a school that blends academic and musical education so that each enhances the other. In the process it has created terrific students and a world-class choir, and gives its middle-schoolers a dimension of excellence and professionalism that simply isn't available at other schools. All PBA boys know what it takes to produce something that's of a quality acceptable to MTT at the SF Symphony (they wouldn't have got those Grammys otherwise), and this becomes their approach to all of their work. They represent their country internationally on great stages, so they learn to interact beautifully with people from all cultures, of all ages and backgrounds. Moreover, they get an extraordinary first-hand knowledge of history and geography - in the past three years my son and his classmates have visited Soweto, Tiananmen Square, and the Kremlin! Crucially, the boys learn how to manage their time so that they can do their academics, music, and sports well and still have time left over for Facebook and other such necessities of teenage existence. The benefits last beyond high school - many PBA boys write their college application essays about their experience in the choir, and some have said that this unusual aspect of their application was a big factor in their receiving early admission into selective East Coast colleges.

The PBA gives its boys a truly unique and transformative experience. That the school can do this starting with boys who have little or no formal musical training has always astonished me. But they do it, year after year.

Please take a look at the PBA website and click on the Facebook link near the top - the FB page will quickly give you a sense of the community and of what the boys are up to on a day-to-day basis. The first Open House of this season is on Sunday October 30. Best wishes for your school search! Satisfied parent of PBA school grad

If you are considering the East Bay School for Boys, I'd recommend that you take a look at the Pacific Boychoir Academy. This amazing and growing middle school - 4th through 8th grade, is a top-notch place for academics, building self-confidence, responsibility, and sense of community. You may be asking, ''But my son wouldn't choose a music school, what if he's not a musician?'' That shouldn't be a deterrent to look at this really special school with small class sizes, individualized attention and the opportunity to learn music, travel the world, and become part of an award-winning boychoir. We know that our son will stand out in high school and college applications based on the incredible experiences he's been a part of singing with the SF and Oakland symphony and traveling to Russia, China, and around the world. I can't tell you how often I hear from other parents that they never would have thought that this would have been as perfect as it is for their son - regardless of initial attraction to music or not. There are parents at the Pacific Boychoir who also have experience with the EB School for boys - feel free to reach out and I'm happy to connect you. There's an open house on October 30th and November 10th - stop by if you can and you'll hear some amazing stories from parents and their boys who've left all kinds of excellent schools to come to PBA. Katy

Sept 2011

The Pacific Boychoir Academy is truly the most hidden gem in the Bay Area. I urge any parent looking for a life-changing experience for his or her son to explore the Pacific Boychoir Academy without reservation.

Where else can a 10 year-old boy enjoy individualized attention from an engaging and highly accomplished teacher, travel the world performing with a Grammy-winning choir, and build the confidence and sense of responsibility well beyond his years? There isn't anywhere that does this like the Pacific Boychoir Academy.

The school delivers on its promise to educate, nurture, challenge, and provide an unparalleled opportunity for its students to be part of something truly world-class. What PBA offers will prepare my son to attend the high school and college of his choosing and more importantly approach life with the sense that anything is possible. kt

August 2010

My son is only 9.5 and is entering 4th grade in Fall, but I am already looking into middle schools, preferably with a good mix of science, humanities and arts. I appreciate your suggestions and any info you could provide!

I called Pacific Boychoir Academy, and we ended up having an audition for him and they seem to be very enthusiastic to have him there, right away. Our intention was to keep him at his public school for at least another year, but they tell me (and I see their point) that it would be best for both them and my son to start there asap.

My son likes musical theater.A lot.He's been in a great public school where he had a lot of exposure to music and stage performances, and has been taking piano since K. He's no Mozart, but likes to play. According to PBA, he has a good voice. After his audition there, he said he'd love to go there.

I haven't had a chance to look at any other middle schools yet, so I am reluctant to commit to Pacific Boychoir Academy before I know more. Seemed like a great school though, although it's rather new and I see just a handful of Berkeley Parent Network reviews of it. Thank you in advance for your feedback!

My older son has been at Pacific Boychoir Academy for two years, and he is very happy there. We have been happy with it also -- academics are very strong and presented in engaging and creative ways. There is a lot of hands on learning - for example, last year while studying ancient Egypt, my son mummified a pigeon! At the same time, he also learned how to write an effective research paper, including footnotes and bibliography (a skill I must admit I didn't master in sixth grade.) Classes are small, the music education is first rate, and the boys sing VERY well.

Musical theater is not the main emphasis here, although the boys did get to be part of a professional production of Oliver! last fall, and individual boys have performed roles at the SF Opera in the past. Most of the performing opportunities are choral, but there are many opportunites to perform, and the types of music vary greatly. Over the course of a year, the choir might appear with the SF Symphony, sing the National Anthem at a ball game, perform with a Jazz band, or sing on local TV. Because the school is small and all the boys sing and tour together, they really form a team and support each other across the age spectrum. liz

Both my sons have attended the Pacific Boychoir Academy School, the older one just graduated in June, the other will be in 6th grade. They both started there in 4th grade and I can't say enough good things about the school. As far as I am concerned, PBA has more than proved itself as a superior academic institution providing my kids a unique opportunity to excel in both academics and music--a subject that is so sadly lacking in most schools. They get to be, no joke, one of the best in the world at something, which is a huge source of pride for both of them. My oldest son was heavily recruited by the private high schools in the area. Nancy S.

Jan 2010

The Pacific Boychoir Academy is an amazing day school for 4th-8th grade boys. My 4th grade son is currently attending, and his academic performance and attitude towards school have significantly improved as a result. The boycentric curriculum, outstanding teaching staff, phenomenal choir program, and small class size have been integral to his improvement and success. The program is very engaging, academically rigorous, stimulating, and creative. Participating in the choir provides real life, cultural, and professional experiences, focus, and discipline. Additionally, PBA offers an impressive afterschool program. I highly recommend the school for boys with an interest in music and singing who thrive in a small class size environment. Please feel free to contact me with any program questions. 510.387.1705 Suzanne

Oct 2009

I want to highly recommend the Emmy Award winning Pacific Boy Choir Academy to all Bay Area parents. I have two children who have attended this school for the last 3-4 years respectively and I cannot stop glowing enough about their results.

This is a small school with only 30-40 students attending Grades 4-8. The boys get a lot of individual attention and in- depth instruction from a small, carefully picked, excellent teaching staff. I am constantly amazed at the rigorousness of their instruction, which results in a wide ranging depth of knowledge in the boys. Whether it comes to Math, Biology, Geography, English, History or a Foreign Language, the boys are encouraged to excell and in large part they actually succeed.

Equally amazing is the boys' comprehension and discipline when it comes to music. It is well known that musical experience broadens the mind, exercising their left brain/right brain synergy in a way which does not happen in public schools. I am certain that the boys' excellence in math is to a large extent enhanced by their musical capabilities, by being able to sight- read musical scores and by mastering rhythms.

The boys also get to travel to foreign lands, as well as domestically, discovering different people and carrying American culture overseas. So far their trips have included concerts in Australia, Argentina, Hungary, Italy, Canada, Denmark, etc. etc.

More information about the Pacific Boy Choir Academy can be found at Andrew

August 2009

BPN Advisors: I have a very musical 3 year old toddler (he turns 4 in late September) who sings non-stop and has an uncanny ability to remember lyrics and sophisticated phrasing. I'm DELIGHTED that he's showing this talent, and I'd like to expose him to some sort of organized group to see if he flourishes even more. Wondering if anyone has recommendations on a parent-friendly (read: not too time/practice-intensive) organization/choir/group that fosters young songbirds. Thanks in advance! Mom of the next singing wonder

Your son sounds perfect for the Prelude group of PBA, the Pacific Boychoir Academy, The website is fun, and you can get to the Prelude page via ''Boychoir Program'' and ''Our Choir Ladder''. Prelude is for the youngest guys starting at 4 years old, but boys sing at PBA all the way through high school. Watching the older guys is a great source of inspiration for the younger boys, and at concerts it's wonderful to see the progression from fidgety adorable kindergarteners to ultra-cool high school seniors. The atmosphere is happy and fun-filled, and the community is inclusive and diverse. There's no pressure to practice at home but the quality of the senior groups is stunning. My son is 12, has sung with PBA in 3 continents, and has had his life completely transformed by the experience. Welcome!

Sept 2009

I would like to second the recent recommendation of the Pacific Boychoir Academy, Gr 4-8, just north of campus at LeConte and Scenic. In addition to a terrific math program, already glowingly reviewed, they have an outstanding writing program. In 7th grade my son learned to write well beyond the level of strong high school freshmen. I think PBA may be the only local middle school where all students study three languages in addition to English (German Gr 4-5, Spanish Gr 6-8, Latin Gr 7-8). German helps the boys sing Bach, and Latin is not a dead language to them because they sing in it regularly. The Latin course covers the same texts as in first-year Latin at College Prep. In the last few years, PBA graduates have been accepted into the following local high schools: Athenian, Bentley, Berkeley High, Bishop O'Dowd, College Prep, Head Royce, Maybeck, Oakland Tech, and St. Joseph's.

The music has an astonishing way of focusing the attention of the more fidgety boys, and it is a joy to hear the choir perform Spirituals a cappella or sing with orchestras as varied as the SF Symphony (listen to them on the recent recording of Mahler 8!) and the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra (holiday jazz concert at Yoshi's on Dec 17!). There are few schools like PBA in the world, because PBA gives every student the chance to perform on world stages. Just last summer, PBA sang with the Soweto Gospel Choir at the Regina Mundi Church in Johannesburg. That kind of opportunity has a unique effect on the boys' understanding of the world, and on their motivation in all spheres. ''Transformative'' is the word most commonly used by graduates describing their PBA experience. One of them said, ''I learned that I could be the best in the world.'' After all, PBA's first ''follower'' on Twitter was the Vienna Boys Choir!

PBA is non-denominational and includes families of all backgrounds. It is the best-kept secret in East Bay children's education. Your elementary school boy doesn't have to be a brilliant singer to be admitted - if he can match pitch and clap a rhythm, PBA will teach him how to bring out his voice. Open Houses are Oct 20, Nov 18, and Jan 7, but you can visit any time. Call Jim Gaines, Head of School, (510) 849-8180. -- Delighted parent of PBA 8th grader

April 2008 Re: Creative Welcoming School for 6th Grader?
Joan, Have you considered visiting the Pacific Boychoir Academy in Oakland? A middle school for boys in grades 4-8, the academic curriculum is designed specifically for boys, applying approaches such as Levin's ''One Mind at a Time'' and Gurian's ''Minds of Boys.''

The boys not only graduate and move onto schools such as College Preparatory School, Bishop O'Dowd, Athenian and Bentley, but they become some of the word's best singers for their age.

For more information you can visit Best wishes, Fernando

Sept 2007

Re: Children's or girls chorus My son has been with the Pacificboychoir Academy for 7 years and loves it and they have great teachers that are very motivating and nurturing and practice positive discipline. Choir mom

August 2005

In Sep 2004 a new boys school opened in Oakland: the Pacific Boychoir Academy. We were one of the ''pioneer families'' that signed on. My oldest son had been with the afterschool program for 4 years at that point and absolutely wanted to be in the day school.

The school is currently teaching grades 4-8, with the option for earlier grades coming soon. While there are the standard academics, languages, art & PE, there are 2 big differences to this school:

1) Over 2 hrs of music daily : music theory, repetoire, history, and sight reading. The boys are part of the larger choir (the after school program) but progress so fast and have such a solid grounding in their music that they become natural leaders of their sections.

2) The school is geared toward boys, and boys who sing. The staff ''speak boy'' and plan plenty of physical b! reaks during the day when boy energy can be dissipated to make classroom time more effective. The staff understand and celebrate boys and their energy, and channel that energy into a purity of sound that can break your heart.

Visit for more info, or contact me via email for more parent perspective. Nancy

Feb 2005

Re: Chorus for 5-year-old boy
My son participated in the Pacific Boychoir Academy for 5 years, just retired recently at age 15 because high school is so much more socially demanding and he's choosing sports instead. I heartily recommend the PBA, they are very professional and my son learned an incredible amount of music theory and vocal technique. He travelled with them to Australia/New Zealand, to Austria, to Italy, this summer to Prague; again, very organized and supervised. This year's summer trip will be to Paris. Not cheap. They are opening a school (hence the 'Academy' part of the name) similar to the American Boychoir and the Cathedral School over at Grace Cathedral in SF, so they can travel and still get schooling as well. My boy retired once (and later rejoined)when his voice changed, but now they have enough 'graduates' to have formed a Changed Voices group that sings tenor/bass parts with the 4 part trebles/altos. The repetoire for boychoirs is pretty religious (duh) but they get a beautiful sound out of the boys and the boys just love it. Bonnie

Re: Singing lessons for 5 year old boy (Sept 2004)
I do not have a recommendation for a private teacher but would like to give you an idea for a few years down the road. The Pacific Boychoir Academy in Oakland, which won a Grammy with the SF Symphony last year, is an amazing organization with incredible teachers. My oldest son has been with the choir for 4 years and has just made it to the international touring level. He has developed his voice, of course, but there is much more to it than that - he has developed in a million other ways that are attributable, in my eyes, to his choir endeavors. My youngest just started in February as well. We are not musical ourselves, so this is a fantastic gift and wonderful community of people with which to be introduced to choral music. Please see for more information, and good luck. Nancy