Since the fall of 2010, I have dedicated myself to a wonderful community service group on campus called YOUTHphonics A Cappella. Despite being an interdigitation of students with majors from all over campus, varying interests, and different musical preferences, one thing we have in common is our passion for singing and sharing music with local underserved youth of Los Angeles. My involvement in the organization began as simply a spark of interest when my friend handed me a flyer in University Chorus (a class in the music department that’s open to all majors), which blossomed to a timid crush on a cappella music, bloomed into a full-on obsession (during this phase I was crazy about arranging songs I came across and designing t-shirts for YOUTHphonics), and continues today as I finish my second year of membership in the organization. Just the length of that run-on sentence is indicative enough of my enthusiasm about my relationship with YOUTHphonics.
In addition to performing on campus and leading singing (and beatboxing!) workshops at other volunteer groups’ events, we also work bi-weekly with students at Fairfax High School and hold free afterschool classes for anyone that is interested in singing. As we consolidated our program, our relationship with our students has continued to stabilize, and today, they see us as friends and mentors. We get positive feedback that our sessions are a safe place where they can express themselves through music without worrying about social pressures and acceptance. In fact, a recent article in the Daily Bruin featured some student opinions that brought a lump to my throat when I read them; sometimes we have so much fun that we forget how much of an impact we are making.
YOUTHphonics was founded in 2008 by four insightful people who saw budget cuts in the LAUSD affecting music programs for the worse, and decided to do something about it. Our mission was established: to bring music to those who had limited access due to their circumstances. A partnership between YOUTHphonics and Fairfax’s LACER program was started, and thus began the journey to achieving our musicality director’s dream of bringing the kids to UCLA someday to perform with us at our annual spring concert.
Last year, it came true. And it was unbelievable. We not only were able to bring them to UCLA for a day-long field trip full of singing and bonding, they were able to perform what we learned together that day at our spring concert.
This year, we were determined to make it a tradition, and we did. Our students came to UCLA for a day trip despite the pouring rain and had lots of fun with us. There are no less than twelve students who confirmed that they would come to UCLA and perform at UCLA tomorrow. All that stands between us now is our dress rehearsal tonight and last-minute preparations.
It’s almost show time.
If you are interested in learning more about this event, please visit: http://www.facebook.com/events/409853345703390.