With a simple raise of her hands, Jenna Hayes brought an entire room full of young girls to attention.
No, she isn’t a witch (that I know of) or a warlock (again, unconfirmed). She is the conductor of a nonprofit all-girls youth choir called Giovani Voci, located north of Pittsburgh, and her magic comes from the love of music that she’s helped instill in these children.
The atmosphere of the room was one of fun and laughter, which is how Hayes thinks music ought to be. As a young musician, she was often intimidated by the intensity of the musical groups that she could have joined. “I didn’t want to audition; I was nervous,” she said. Hayes, who has a degree in Music Education, didn’t want other aspiring young musicians to feel that same fear. In fact, she didn’t want any young girl to feel that way, whether they were an aspiring musician or not. Giovani Voci was her answer. I sat in on one of the rehearsals and talked to some of the parents and children about what this choir meant to them:
Giovani Voci, or GV for short, is an extension of an all-female adult choir, Belle Voci. The two groups frequently hold concerts together and the singers of Belle Voci act as role models for the younger choir. “I thought it was really important that young girls in the Pittsburgh area had that same experience… bringing music and connecting other people together.” says Hayes, a member of Belle Voci herself.
To join GV, kids need only to take a simple “vocal evaluation” rather than an audition. This means that anyone, regardless of musical background, can participate. In fact, several of the GV girls don’t even read music.
Hayes acknowledges that financial issues can also prevent some children from being able to participate in a choir (or any extracurricular), but she will never let that prevent a girl from singing. In their three years of existence, GV has been able to offer tuition assistance to over 5 families to ensure that those children can participate.
I’d say that’s worth a standing ovation.
If you’d like to help this nonprofit continue to bring music to young girls, you can find their donation page here.