Community Opus Project

Pre- Registeration for Opus 2014-15 here 

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Over the last decade music education programs have been drastically cut from schools in San Diego. This creates an immense gap between those who have access to music education and those who will have to see their musical aspirations unfulfilled. In response to this urgent growing need, and with guidance through our institutional vision, SDYS launched the Community Opus Project in 2010. Inspired by the success of the El Sistema movement in Venezuela, SDYS strongly believes music education will be a powerful vehicle for change in our own community.

Through the Community Opus Project we provide community based music programs for at-risk youth in San Diego County. The programs take place on school sites and community centers within those underserved communities and are completely free. Students receive new instruments to begin their musical journey as well as regular expert instruction and mentorship by our Artistic Faculty. SDYS knows there are numerous barriers to participation and has taken great care to eliminate those hurdles for all students, regardless of their families’ socio-economic status.

 The Community Opus Project in Action

In the fall of 2010, SDYS began the first phase of this multi-year effort by launching pilot Opus sites at Otay and Lauderbach Elementary Schools in Chula Vista. The next year, it was expanded to four more schools: Rice, Harborside, Vista Square and Rosebank. Children at these schools had no access to music programs, and the majority of them are from low-income households where private music instruction is not an option.

  • At Opus Chula Vista more than 200 third and fourth graders are learning to play violins, cellos, basses and other instruments
  • Families and community members are learning alongside the students supporting their growth and musical development
  • Over 500 ticket vouchers have been distributed to Opus families to enjoy classical music performance by professional and youth symphony performers in San Diego County

Through collaboration with the schools, SDYS will track the social and academic achievements of those students who participate in the Community Opus Project, and compare that data against those students who are not participating. We are confident the results will show increased achievement by those participant students, as this has been proven in our outreach efforts leading up to this initiative. With substantial data SDYS’ action networks will be empowered to advocate for the restoration of music in schools so that our goal of making music education affordable and accessible for all is attainable!


OPUS students performing at the 2012 California Seminario


This program is made possible in part by a grant through the City of Chula Vista and the Chula Vista Performing and Visual Arts Grant.


Community Outreach

La Jolla Music Society Community Music Center

The Community Music Center provides free music lessons to children in the San Diego area who otherwise would not be able to afford them but does not offer large ensemble opportunities. To give these students more training opportunities SDYS currently provides 5-10 tuition scholarships annually so students at the Community Music Center can enroll in SDYS Large Ensembles. Students from SDYS also perform at the Community Music Center throughout the year to expose the students and families to advanced classical music performance. Community Music Center families are provided free tickets to SDYS concerts and bus transportation to Copley Symphony Hall. SDYS is embarking on the 4th year of this partnership.

UCSD Preuss School Music Booster Club

The Preuss School Music Booster Club is an on-campus leadership activity that trains middle school students in arts promotion. SDYS provides the 25 student members with promotional materials and free ticket vouchers to share with peers and their families. SDYS staff trains the students in promotion of specific SDYS concerts and increases their access to classical music performance. Three students from the club have subsequently enrolled into SDYS ensembles as a result of this exposure. SDYS now provides private and group lessons to Preuss students who need more focused attention to advance their musical studies. SDYS also provides onsite auditions and full tuition scholarships to any Preuss students who wish to join the Large Ensemble program. SDYS is in the 5th year of this partnership.