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As soon as the school day ends, Soundscapes students gather for a meal in the cafeteria. This provides important nutrition for learning and the general well-being of our students, but also provides a time for positive socialization with fellow students and teachers before breaking out into classes.
Students are assigned a level according to their current musical experience and skill. This allows students to advance at their own pace, as it is normal for students to spend more than one year in a particular level. The levels are organized as follows:
Level 1 – Music Readiness
Students learn the basic language of music, train their ears to recognize rhythm and pitch, and work on developing a foundation of self-confidence and mutual respect with their peers and teachers. Activities Level 1 students participate in include:
- Bucket Band: Students form an ensemble using 5-gallon buckets as percussion instruments. This class is fun and fast-paced. It allows the students to let out energy while learning a strong sense of rhythm and teamwork.
- Vocal Class: Students begin to learn how to distinguish notes within music, and then how to create tones and harmonies themselves. The act of singing also encourages musical expression as a healthy emotional outlet.
- Orchestra Introduction: Students are introduced to the different types of instruments available at Soundscapes and how they fit together to make an orchestra. They expand on what they have learned so far by playing either the recorder or the violin, and continuing to practice with the bucket band.
- Performances: Level 1 students typically have 4 public performance opportunities per year.
Level 2 – Instrument Readiness
After choosing what instrument they would like to play and demonstrating the responsibility required to care for it, each student receives an instrument free of charge and earns the right to take it home for practice. Level 2 activities include:
- Instrumental Classes: Students join classes led by teaching artists that specialize in their instrument. They are taught how to play their instrument and how to read orchestral sheet music.
- Performances: Level 2 students typically have 6 public performance opportunities per year.
Level 3 – Ensemble Readiness
In level 3, a much larger emphasis is placed on ensemble work. The majority of the time, students play in one of three large ensembles- wind band, string orchestra, or full orchestra. They also split into smaller chamber groups several times per year. Activities include:
- Ensembles: Teamwork and cooperation are emphasized as students play extensively in groups. This group work forces students to concentrate on listening to each other and building community.
- Music Theory: Students at this level have the opportunity to attend music theory classes to deepen their musical education.
- Performances: The number of public performance opportunities dramatically increases to up to 30 times per year.
Level 4 – Advanced Academy
Students in Level 4 have demonstrated great proficiency with their instrumental technique, a deep understanding of music, and positive social and emotional behaviors. Activities include:
- Peninsula Youth Orchestra: Peninsula Youth Orchestra (PYO) is a program within Soundscapes that provides more specialized teaching and private lessons to students through age 25.
- Mentorship: Students in Level 4 are encouraged to become mentors for younger students. This can involve help with musical technique, emotional support, and much more.
- Performances: Chamber ensembles form among students. These groups then often perform semi-professionally at different events throughout the year, with the support and supervision of Soundscapes staff.