While the Sing for Hope Pianos were still adorning our city’s streets and parks, our Youth Arts team was hard at work prepping for another summer mainstay here at Sing for Hope: the Arts Intensive. This year, we brought together over 30 creative professionals from our Volunteer Artist roster with high schoolers from across NYC for two memorable weeks of arts study. With workshops ranging from Samba dancing to ballet, songwriting to a cappella singing, and a host of other artistic pursuits, the Sing for Hope Youth Arts Intensive is free of charge, and encourages participation from students who may not otherwise have access to quality arts education. By pairing our Volunteer Artists with dedicated students, the program creates a rigorous, diverse, and supportive environment for exploring the arts.
Below, check out our photos, videos, and stories to see highlights!


Volunteer Artist C.J. had students on their feet and moving to the music with Samba and Salsa moves. Taking students on a journey through the history of Samba dancing, C.J. demonstrated key moves and then led the group in putting together their own dance. Below, all eyes are on C.J. as she teaches the class how to do a “Samba walk”.

“I learned a lot of new art forms that I would have otherwise never tried. I wouldnt have known how fun samba dancing is or the joy of actually writing a song and performing it…”
— Aidan (15 yrs old)


Our Session II students became an instant a cappella ensemble under the leadership of The NYU Mixtapes, a New York University-based a cappella group. Working on the song “Problem” by Ariana Grande, the high-schoolers learned to harmonize as well as sing solo against a vocal backdrop. Above, listen to the group rehearse for the Closing Celebration, where they shared the piece with their friends and family.

Under the tutelage of Volunteer Artist singer-songwriter Hillary Capps, Session I participants shared the special experience of co-writing a song. After presenting the key ingredients that go into songwriting, Hillary helped students get the ball rolling by passing around a “lyric box”. The words pulled from the box would serve as the inspiration around which they built the song’s lyrics. Students broke out into groups to work on their own verses, then reconvened to merge their ideas. The result was a piece called “Ship of Dreams”, an ode to the power of dreams to overcome challenges and downfalls by looking forward and pressing on towards our hopes and plans for the future.

Click on the audio below to hear Hillary’s beautiful rendition of the piece!


During Session II, Volunteer Artist Michael Miller gave a crash course in some of the fundamentals of drawing, then let students put his lessons to the test with exercises that built their skill in perspective, negative space, and portraiture.

This classic art exercise urges the viewer to consider positive and negative space, alternately seeing a vase or two faces. To encourage the young artists to draw what they see without preconceived notions of what a portrait should look like, Michael had them sketch Picassos Stravinsky upside-down. Students show off their Stravinsky portraits alongside their instructor.
“It was a real pleasure to work with…the students. I appreciated their good humor, engagement and willingness to try out new things.”
— Michael Miller, Volunteer Artist

In Session I, Volunteer Artist Hodaya Louis helped students take on a particularly intimidating artistic challenge: drawing a face. Under her careful instruction, the class worked first on drawing a detailed eye, then on sketching the entire portrait. Best of all, she encouraged them to continue practicing at home by giving each student a packet of art supplies, generously donated by Royal Brush Art Supplies.


All eyes were on commanding Broadway actor Alvin Crawford (The Lion King, A Raisin in the Sun) as he directed students on how to create and act out a scene. After breaking into small groups, students received secret tableaus they had to recreate in their own scene. The following day, groups had a blast acting out their scenes for their peers.

“I gained confidence and individuality to pursue my dreams and passions the way I want to.”
— Jade (15 yrs old)

As the excitement of the daily workshops wound down, we gathered to reflect on what the arts mean to us and how we can use our creativity to give back to our communities. Each “question of the day” encouraged students to think not only about how they wanted to deepen their own understanding and appreciation of the arts, but also how they would share their talent and skill with others.

“I got to wade in waters with arts I had never contended in, and I got to meet so many interesting artists with immense talent… but I think above all, I made friends that Id like to keep around.”
— Daniel (16 yrs old)

By the end of the Arts Intensive, Sing for Hope students had opened their minds to a broad world of creative expression, explored how their creativity can creative positive change in themselves and others, and bonded with their fellow participants. Each session culminated in a Closing Celebration, giving students an opportunity to show off what they had learned and created during the week, and wowing their friends and families in the process!

Love working with kids? VOLUNTEER WITH US and share your creative talent with Youth Arts!

Missed our summer Arts Intensive? You can still sign up to join Youth Chorus or participate in our Saturday Series workshops! CLICK HERE to find out more and apply.

We want to give a special thanks to Glasgow Caledonian University for donating the use of their beautiful space, Royal Brush for donating art supplies, Fresh Direct for supplying delicious lunches for our students, and to all our Volunteer Artists who participated for making this program possible. To learn more about Arts Intensive and our other Youth Arts programs, click HERE.

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