The Johnny Mercer Youth Music Program

Celebrating two decades of support from the Johnny Mercer Foundation, Braille Institute’s Youth Music Program includes the Johnny Mercer Children’s Choir, Young Men’s Choir, and Summer Musical Program. Through the program’s music-based education and performance opportunities, youth from Los Angeles and Orange Counties who are blind or visually impaired, discover that vision loss is not the end, but the beginning of a new way of living.  Additional program support has come from The Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts and the Flora L. Thornton Foundation. We invite you to learn more about Special 20th Anniversary programming on our Music Program page.

“Our goal is for our students to learn and develop these skills in a safe environment with others who are blind or visually impaired and build the confidence to then transfer these skills into the sighted world,” says Marleena Barber, Children’s Choir Director.


Braille Institute’s award-winning Johnny Mercer Children’s Choir offers free music instruction and performance opportunities for children ages 8-18 from Los Angeles and Orange County who are blind or visually impaired. The program is designed to promote independence and self-esteem through musical performance.

“Every choir performance is a demonstration of these skills and a testament of what Braille Institute provides. The choir is one of the greatest ambassadors for our organization, changing audience perceptions of children who are blind or visually impaired,” says Marleena.

The Children’s Choir has performed through Southern California, at venues including Knott’s Berry Farm, The Aquarium of the Pacific, The Richard Nixon Presidential Library, Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts – Samueli Theater, South Coast Plaza, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Irvine Barclays Theater, Whittier Centre Theatre, and many more!



Braille Institute’s Johnny Mercer Young Men’s Choir in Los Angeles is designed for young men ages 13-28 whose voices have changed and who have graduated out of the children’s choir. This extension of the choir program gives these young men a place to continue their vocal studies and explore the next stage in their vocal development. Participation promotes independence, self-esteem, self-discipline, and vocal techniques they can use throughout their lives.


JMMF SummerMusical

The Summer Musical Program is a 6-8 week program open to all students enrolled in Braille Institute’s Youth Programs. It is designed to give students the entire theatrical experience from the audition process to props, costuming, lighting, and staging. The students rehearse stage direction, dance, and blocking. The students learn to perform a show, typically a musical revue of Broadway or lighter concert music, which is performed in a professional theater setting at the end of the summer. This program also reaches students who might not normally participate in the choir during the school year and strives to achieve many of the same goals as the children’s choir program.