Trumpeting the Sounds of a Success

VH1 Save The Music Foundation Awards CVESD with first grant in multi-year music education rebuild

CHULA VISTA, Ca.—Sixth grader Luna Enriquez recalls the excitement she felt in holding her first violin. She loved the “beautiful noise” the instrument made when she plucked a string. Luna was among a pioneering group of elementary students who began rebuilding the District’s music education program in 2010, practically one note at a time.

Today, as part of the Community Opus Orchestra, Luna can play Strauss’ “The Blue Danube” as easily as she can play to the cameras, emerging as a natural spokesperson for the arts on a recent morning television news show.

“Opus means a lot to me because it is a fun learning experience!” she exclaimed. “…I’ve had a lot of opportunities from this program, as students from Opus have traveled to Los Angeles to perform with other students. I met new friends and learned new ways to remember notes.”  

The Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD), San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (SDYS) and San Diego County Office of Education Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) recently announced a new partnership with VH1 Save The Music Foundation to ensure all children experience the positive effects of music education, like Luna has enjoyed.

The announcement was made at J. Calvin Lauderbach Elementary School, where Luna and her classmates performed for parents, dignitaries and arts advocates. Lauderbach is one of four schools in CVESD to hire a full-time music education instructor. VH1 Save The Music Foundation provided Lauderbach with $30,000 in musical instruments, with the stipulation that CVESD employ a full-time music instructor to provide music education as part of the school day.

“We are tremendously inspired by our partnership with Chula Vista Elementary School District,” said Paul Cothran, Executive Director of the VH1 Save The Music Foundation.

“Since day-one when we began working with the District in 2010, we have been impressed by their deep commitment to restoring music instruction and the vision for their schools. We look forward to continuing and building on the exciting partnership with CVESD.”

The instruments included a mix of violins, violas, cellos and a double bass. In addition to announcing this year’s grant to Lauderbach School, VH1Save The Music Foundation announced that it will be awarding four grants to CVESD for the 2014-15 school year. Jaclyn Rudderow from the VH1 Save The Foundation met with District leadership and school principals in preparation for awarding next year’s grants.

Alex Cortes, principal of Lauderbach Elementary, said the Community Opus Orchestra has been a supportive avenue for promoting students’ academic, emotional and social growth.

“The vast majority of our students who started with the program from the beginning have demonstrated academic progress that meets or exceeds state standards, and that is coupled with outstanding attendance records,” Cortes said. “Students are using music as the vehicle to open the door of opportunity and learning how music enhances their daily interactions with academics and their social interactions.  Music is now seen not as a separate entity, but rather a supplement to all the academic subjects students encounter daily.  Opus has brought a sense of pride to our community and our students are proud to be the trailblazers of this journey for our district.”

VH1 Save The Music Foundation’s involvement is an outcome of the Community Opus Project, which is a District initiative in collaboration with SDYS. Initially, the Community Opus Project began at Otay and Lauderbach elementary schools, and soon grew to six campuses in the District: Harborside, Lauderbach, Otay, Lilian J. Rice, Rosebank, and Vista Square.Opus-web6

“Today is an exciting day for the District and community of Chula Vista,” said Asst. Superintendent John M. Nelson, III.  “After many years of limited access to music education in our schools, we are embarking on reintroducing Visual and Performing Arts across our entire District over the next several years. Our District is making the commitment to lead San Diego County in restoring music and arts education for all students.”

CVESD had cut music instruction from nearly all of its 45 schools more than 15 years ago and had no full-time music teachers until this year. Returning music education to the school day is helping to reverse the trend of diminishing arts education enrollment across San Diego County, officials said.

“We are thrilled that by teaching music to seventy students at two schools we have inspired the District’s leaders to return music instruction to all of its students and schools and we are grateful that VH1 Save the Music Foundation is joining us to support the District in this effort,” said Dalouge Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Youth Symphony.

“We look forward to telling Chula Vista’s story and galvanizing other school districts to give their students a promising future through music.”

Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Youth Symphony, said CVESD schools are not the only ones feeling the impact.

“In October of 2010, we came to Chula Vista to launch our Community Opus Project as an after-school program for 70 third graders: 35 at Lauderbach and 35 at neighboring Otay school,” Smith said. “Those students thrived in so many ways. Through their hard work and growing joy as musicians, they became leaders in their classes, inspired boundless pride in their parents, and captured the attention of Chula Vista Elementary School District leaders.

“Within weeks, we began hearing stories of changed students and changed families. Diego was teaching his brother to play music as they reenacted music class at home. Nathaniel wasn’t as disruptive in school nor being sent to the principal as often. Luna talked about music helping her not feel so sad after a family tragedy. School and district leaders were seeing these changes too.”

Smith and his Board drew their inspiration for Community Opus from the Venezuelan music program called El Sistema, a national youth orchestra program that fosters music instruction in impoverished neighborhoods. The program inspires social change by inspiring young people in music.

“The program is not about music only, it is about music and opportunity,” Smith said, adding that renowned classical conductor Gustavo Dudamel grew up in the El Sistema program and is now director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “We were very excited by this idea that music in the neighborhood could have a powerful effect not only on musical development, but on the learning of children and the bringing together of community.”

About the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory

The San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (SDYS) is the 6th oldest continuously operating youth symphony in the United States, and serves over 600 students annually in eleven ensembles from its home in Balboa Park. Skill levels range from beginner to pre-professional, with participating students ages 8 to 25. Concerts are performed throughout SDYSthe region including at world-class venues such as Copley Symphony Hall, Jacobs Music Center and California Center for the Arts in Escondido.

In addition to its Balboa Park programs, SDYS launched the Community Opus Project in 2010 as a strategy to demonstrate the many benefits of music education, build support for music in the community, and convince school districts to provide music as part of students’ regular curriculum. It was so successful that within only three years, the Chula Vista Elementary School District committed to providing music education to all of its students and with the assistance of SDYS has begun to phase in school day music.

For more information about the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory or to make a donation, call 619.233.3232 or visit

About the Chula Vista Elementary School District

The Chula Vista Elementary School District serves more than 29,200 students at 45 schools. Students experience a rigorous 21st century learning environment that is rooted in effective teaching practices and high-quality instruction while discovering novel methods of instructional delivery. Students receive an education that nurtures every child’s imagination, intellect, and sense of inquiry. Working together, we will harness the potential of a collective intelligence rich with the imagination and creativity necessary for students to become difference makers in the community.

About the VH1 Save The Music Foundation

The VH1 Save The Music Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to ensure all students have access to the benefits of music education. The VH1 Save The Music Foundation purchases new musical instruments to reinstate music education programs that have been cut due to budget reductions or to restore programs at risk of elimination because of lack of instruments. This commitment was made in response to the growing body of research and feedback showcasing the correlation between students who receive on-going music education and overall achievement. The VH1 Save The Music Foundation purchases approximately $30,000 worth of new, high-quality musical instruments for each grant-recipient school. Since 1997, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation has donated $51 million worth of new musical instruments to 1,900 public schools in 192 school districts, improving the lives of 2.3 million children.

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