Sharing Songs of the Season

Meet 10-Year-Old Aaron Hollenback, a talented Phoenix Boys Choir member balancing school and song.

Photos courtesy of the Hollenback family

When you’re out and about this holiday season and joyful music fills the air, you might just be hearing the voice of 10-year-old Aaron Hollenback. A member of the Phoenix Boys Choir, Aaron will be performing numerous holiday concerts across the Valley this year.

Fortunately, a flexible school schedule means Aaron can easily fit in all the practice and preparation that goes into being a part of the esteemed choir that spreads good cheer each holiday season.

Aaron, who has always loved to sing, joined the choir thanks to encouragement from his Nana, who was familiar with the mentorship, leadership skills and brotherhood the choir provides.

Auditioning right before the COVID pandemic made for a unique introduction to the choir but getting to know his peers and practicing online ultimately paid off. Aaron is featured in the beginning of “Million Dreams,” which the Phoenix Boys Choir performed and published on YouTube for Christmas 2020.

This season, Aaron is part of the Town Choir. He sings in seven languages and participates in performances throughout the Valley and beyond. He recently completed an audition with the American Choral Directors Association and will spend five days in Pasadena in March 2024, culminating in a grand performance with youth from across the nation.

Next year, his calendar will be even busier, as he’ll begin traveling and singing internationally, and his flexible online school schedule will become more beneficial than ever.

Up until second grade, Aaron attended public school, but the setting wasn’t a great fit.

“I was not enchanted with what I was seeing and the ways he was being held back,” says Caroline Slade, Aaron’s Nana. “I quit my job and decided homeschool was what would be best for him.”

Caroline took a more active role in the education of Aaron and his sisters, freeing up their mom, Kera, to focus on her growing business. “Kera really supports them being able to grow,” Caroline says.

Aaron is now a fifth grader at ASU Prep Digital, and his grades have steadily improved since the move from his previous school. “Every semester since I started at ASU, I’ve gotten Principal’s List,” Aaron says proudly. “I’m like, yeah, I’m sticking with this.”

The school gives him the opportunity to learn at his own pace and the flexibility to attend choir performances, but it also provides the chance to spend quality time with family.

Last year, when the kids were studying natural resources in school, Caroline planned some special stops on a family trip to Las Vegas. They visited solar panels, the Hoover Dam, and some windmills, letting the kids see the resources in action.

“That’s what not being tied to a brick-and-mortar school gives us,” Caroline says. “We get to do a variety of things. I’m not just having them learn in a book.”

Aaron agrees. “It’s experiences and memories.”

Aside from singing, Aaron has one other important experience planned for this holiday season. He and his family host an annual toy drive with generous friends and family to support the local foster care system and Child Crisis Arizona, all in honor of his two adoptive sisters.

“Child Crisis Arizona is a cause he’s been learning to support,” Caroline says. “They’ve supported his sisters and that’s a big deal to him.”

To contribute to Aaron’s toy drive, contact [email protected].