Beethoven, one of the most recognizable names in all of classical music, struggled with hearing loss at an early age, however, still managed to compose and perform such beautiful and powerful music. At JQOP, we believe that every child has the opportunity to make incredible music if given the proper support and attention. Our Beethoven Ensemble provides instrumental and general music lessons to special education classes at Josiah Quincy Elementary School. Each class receives two 30-minute blocks of music instruction that includes a focus on general music, rhythm, singing, creativity, music technology, and expression, with a curriculum modeled after other successful El Sistema programs for students with special needs. Students in the Beethoven Ensemble participate free-of-charge, and have the opportunity to perform alongside the morning orchestra and choir ensembles throughout the year.
Mozart Orchestra is a pre-orchestra class for kindergarten and first grade students. Three days per week, students participate in general music and pre-orchestra training. Two days per week, students participate in Community Building Enrichment, enhanced by the Dalcroze method of music education. These classes consist of group activities that help foster teamwork, listening, self-regulation, and responsibility as well as reinforcing their musical skills. There are three parts of the Mozart year: Musicianship, Paper Orchestra, and Instruments. Students will “graduate” from each part by showing mastery of both musical and social skills.
Rimsky Orchestra students begin their year by building upon the skills acquired in Mozart Orchestra (proper instrument care and safety, ear training, singing), and eventually add new ones (creating and maintaining a healthy playing position, playing their instruments with and without their bows, learning left-hand finger placement, musical notation). We focus on body awareness and mindfulness to center students and to emphasize that listening to your colleagues in an orchestra always begins with listening to yourself! Rimsky Orchestra rehearsals also foster students’ social-emotional intelligence—whether through a fun “kindness challenge,” using teamwork, or demonstrating the school’s FIRE values. Students will spend 1-2 days in sectionals and 2-4 days in full orchestra per week. Our mascot is Rimsky Raccoon.
Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer, was greatly influenced by his country and community. At JQOP we believe in making strong community bonds through music. The main focus for Sibelius Orchestra is refining ensemble skills and working together as a cohesive group. Building on the skills of playing in unison and in round from Rimsky orchestra, each instrument section of the Sibelius orchestra will have an independent part creating more complex music. Students learn the importance of participating in a strong, confident section while being sensitive to the melodies and harmonies of the other sections. In Sibelius Orchestra, new technical skills such as dynamics, slurs, scales, and complex rhythms are also explored.
Our Boulanger Orchestra is designed to capture the attention and energy of new, elementary school-age musicians in their first year of playing. Musicians work with a team of Teaching Artists to develop basic instrumental technique, musicianship and ensemble skills. There is also a strong focus on developing social skills in the context of a large string orchestra. In Boulanger Orchestra, students learn to respect, care, and appreciation for their peers, teachers, and their instruments. Students will become independent music learners and will commit and engage in the string orchestra fully and strive for success, persevering through the obstacles along the way.
The Villa-Lobos Orchestra is an intermediate level orchestra for students who are reading music fluently and able to learn more advanced technical skills. Musicians in this ensemble are given the opportunity to review and further practice skills learned in Sibelius Orchestra, in addition to performing more challenging repertoire. Peer mentoring opportunities for more experienced musicians in the ensemble are available. Students are encouraged to support each other during the rehearsal process through listening and class participation, as well as practicing mutual respect for other class members and teachers.
Vivaldi Chamber Ensemble
The Vivaldi Chamber Ensemble is Josiah Quincy's most advanced group. In addition to performing as a large chamber orchestra, our Vivaldi musicians also perform in small chamber ensembles of 3-5 players. As an orchestra, this group tackles advanced scales, exercises, and repertoire. In chamber class, Vivaldi musicians learn diverse methods of communicating with their peers - all students learn to show the tempo, mood, beginning, and end of a piece, and also develop the skills and independence necessary to be able to perform chamber music with just one player per part (and no conductor!). Vivaldi students take on full responsibility for the setup and cleanup of the rehearsal spaces, and also for care and transport of their own instruments, binders, and for their own weekly home practice. Elementary-age Vivaldi musicians participate in a peer-mentoring program with younger musicians at JQOP once per week. All Vivaldi students engage in regular performances in the Chinatown and Boston community during the school year. Whether playing in a section or small group, Vivaldi Chamber Ensemble emphasizes individual responsibility within a collaborative, team-oriented environment.
Through the Mentorship program, a key facet of the El Sistema model, 5th graders (members of Vivaldi and Villa-Lobos) become representatives and contributory members of the JQOP community, learning how to help younger students in the program by drawing on their years of experience and individual strengths. Students progress through a three-part peer teaching curriculum (Role Modeling / Tutoring / Mentoring) and are guided into taking initiative to help their younger peers while always considering their actions through critical thinking and reflection.