Marin Girls Chorus has helped kids gain confidence for more than 25 years

Posted: 21-Mar-2013

Check out this recent article in the Marin Independent Journal celebrating Marin Girls Chorus' 25th Silver Anniversary and our very own Martha Wall.

Marin Girls Chorus has helped kids gain confidence for more than 25 years

By Vicki Larson
Marin Independent Journal
posted: March 21, 2013

MARTHA WALL may not have known it at the time but when she started a choral singing group for a handful of girls 25 years ago, it wasn't really just   about singing.

But that doesn't mean there hasn't been plenty of singing going on since the group started in 1988. In addition to its local concerts, the choir has been to Vienna, Hawaii and Canada, performed on a cruise and at Disneyland three times and even appeared on the TV show "Parenthood."

The Marin Girls Chorus takes to the stage March 24 for "Sing, Dance, Play," its silver anniversary concert featuring the Marin Dance Theatre and the Marin Youth Orchestra, fresh from winning three medals at the International Choral Festival in Berkeley — one of just four U.S. choirs invited.

"I'm really not about competition. I'm about learning and artistic expression and doing it for the love and the joy of it than to be better than anyone else," says Wall, 58, who lives in Novato.

The girls were excited nonetheless.

"Just picture girls jumping up and down, being cute — 'Oh my gosh!' We were a bubble of joy," she says.

The choir was born when parents, tired of driving their daughters across the bridge to participate in the celebrated San Francisco Girls Chorus, convinced Wall that there was a need to re-create that in Marin. Its name changed numerous times over the years as boys joined and almost as quickly departed. It was not for a lack of trying, however.

"We could never get enough boys," she says mournfully. "There would be a class of 30 and two would be boys. I think the most we ever had was two boys. So, I gave it up."

Thankfully, she says, the San Francisco Boys Chorus started having a presence in the county.

"Now, I've got a place to send them and then we could go back to our roots, honoring and loving the San Francisco Girls Chorus; they were the model for us. It does empower girls, and I find strength in that," she says. "My graduates are not scared of speaking before audiences, they're not afraid to perform, they have confidence, a lot of self-confidence."

"I can't tell you how much I love this chorus. Martha is so amazing. Her inspiration and creativity and what she does with the kids is a gift to Marin County," says Cheryl Newell of San Anselmo, whose 11-year-old daughter, Grace, has been involved with the chorus for three years.

"You have kids learning a skill that is a lifetime skill, they're getting performing opportunities and then there's also mentoring going on from the older girls to the younger girls," says Newell, a board member. "It's all about literally harmony and coming together."

The choir has grown from 17 to 150 girls, with five levels to teach the 5- to 17-year-olds such things as vocal technique and music theory, as well as showcasing their skills in twice-a-year concerts.

"I came back because I felt like there's such a strength in the Marin Girls Chorus and their whole-girl education. It just creates these strong capable women, and I see that so clearly in the group of girls I knew through choir in high school and who they have become," says Pollock, who is studying for her master's at Dominican University. "I found a wonderful community out of my experience in the choir."

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