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Community Opus Project
- 2015-16 Community Opus Project: Register here.
The benefits to a child of of learning music at an early age are diverse and far-reaching, even transformational. About 15 years ago, elementary schools began to drastically cut back or eliminate music education programs which led to an immense gap between those who have access to it and those who don’t. Schools without music programs are most often located in low-income neighborhoods serving students whose families cannot afford tuition or tutors to teach them music. In response to this urgent growing need, and guided by our institutional vision, SDYS launched the Community Opus Project in 2010. Inspired by the impact of the El Sistema movement in Venezuela, SDYS strongly believes music education can be a powerful vehicle for change in our own region.
The Opus Project is a community based music program for at-risk youth in San Diego County. It was designed as a free after-school instrumental music program to demonstrate the positive affects that learning and performing music has on students, engage parents and teachers, build community support for music education, and advocate for its return to schools. The program began with 65 third-graders at two schools in the Chula Vista Elementary School District, which had cut its music program many years earlier. SDYS’ strategy worked! After less than three years of the program, the District was convinced of music’s tremendous value and committed to returning its in-school music education program for all of its students. Today, more than 3,000 students are learning music as part of their regular curriculum. The District’s goal is to return music to all students by 2025.
In 2014, eight schools in Chula Vista have music teachers and more will be added each year. With music returning to schools, Community Opus Project continues to offer after-school programs for both Chula Vista elementary school students attending schools that do not yet offer music and those learning music in school who want to advance their learning and performance opportunities through District Bands and Orchestras. There is also an after-school Opus Honor Band for middle and high school musicians.
Research and Development Partnerships
A critical element of SDYS’ Community Opus Project is documenting evidence of the benefit of music education. Several studies are underway to track the social and academic achievements of Opus musicians against those of students who are not participating. SDYS is collaborating on studies with the National Endowment for the Arts Office of Research and Analysis and New York’s Longy School of Music at Bard College (Read the Grant Announcement from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation here). Closer to home, SDYS has partnered with the University of California at San Diego’s Department of Human Development on a five-year study to determine how musical training influences a child's brain and development of skills like language and attention.
As more scientific data becomes available, SDYS and other music education advocates will be further empowered to work for the restoration of music in schools so that our goal of “making music education accessible and affordable for all” is attainable! For more information about our Community Opus Project, contact Annette Fritzsche, Community Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Opus Project Reports
Recent News and Press
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.