Opus 118 Harlem School of Music is more than just a community music school. It is a place where an economically and racially diverse group of children and parents , all of whom have a passion for music, the violin, and excellence, come together and forge strong bonds throughout the years. The teachers are unparalled in their excellence and commitment and they demand the same from their students who, not only learn to appreciate music, but learn discipline through practice for themselves and for their practice groups. Students also learn to cooperate and play and perform together. In short, they learn about professionalism and quality.
Participating in this program empowered me to pursue excellence. In short, it saved my life by opening doors that I would otherwise have never known existed.
When I chose to send my son to a public school in NYC, part of my choice was driven by the Opus 118 program in the school. The program is so good and so in-demand that we had to enter a lottery to participate, and what a winning ticket it turned out to be. My son has gained so much discipline, poise, and appreciation for music. He has overcome inhibitions. And he has learned teamwork through the group classes and fantastically wonderul end-of-year concerts. He gained the confidence to audition for a competitive summer music camp, and was so elated to be accepted and attend. He also has such a lovely relationship with his violin teacher, and is proud to be a part of something that is bigger than him, and which has become a legendary part of the New York City music scene.
I have been involved with Opus 118 for years because I believe in its mission and its efficacy. Its gifted and dedicated faculty believe that any child can be a musician. The lives of the thousands of kids they have taught have been immeasurably enriched by their experience. These kids have developed focus, persistence, and self-esteem through playing, and what they learned at Opus 118 has helped them in every other area of school and life. They might never have had access to the pure joy of making music without Opus 118.
This is an amazing organization. It provides violin and other music education to children in some 700+ families and reaches the children at much younger ages than ordinary school music programs do. The quality of instruction is excellent - highly focused and very disciplined. My daughter takes great joy and pride at her accomplishments after performing with her friends and she is now beginning in a prep ensemble with 6 other children. Where else does one find a violin prep ensemble for 2nd-grade students?
Roberta and her team brought classical music into East Harlem. She is the reason you see kids walking around with violins. She teaches teachers. Music education lives in our community because of her.
My Sun has been playing violin because of Opus since he was about 6 years old. He first started taking lessons in the in-school program of his elementary school. Then he started taking additional lessons at Opus 118's afterschool program on E. 125th. In about 4th grade, he was asked to join the Junior Performance Ensemble. It has been a FABULOUS experience for him. He has performed with the ensemble at all different types of venues; from opening for the New York Philharmonic in Central Park's Summer Stage, to playing at Avery Fisher Hall with Mark O' Conner, or at the small hall at Carnegie. Recently he even played at a wedding. But the most exciting was traveling to Washington D.C. to play at the first Children's Inaugural Ball, celebrating the election of Barack Obama.
Opus 118 changed my daughter's life. Music and the violin became an integral part of her life, so much so that she has chosen a career in music education and currently teaches violin to children who might otherwise not have access to music lessons. My wife and I also are ardent supporters of Opus 118 and its goals.
Opus 118 is an amazing organization that transforms the lives of New York City students through quality, accesible music education. Opus 118 serves children who might otherwise lack the opportunity or support to participate in music through free in-school lessons at elementary public schools and subsidized class offerings in the after-school music program. Beyond the tremendous effect the program has on individual students, the joys of music Opus 118 cultivates flows over into the larger schools, familiaes, and communities our students come from. While many of the former students have gone on to attend top music conservatories and pursue careers in music performance and education, Opus 118 is so much more than a music school – it is a life school. The lessons of self-discipline and experiences of success the program provides allows students to suceed in any and all academic / professional areas of their lives. I believe the success of Opus 118 is owed to the vision and dedication of Roberta Guaspari, the incredible staff of teachers, and committed staff. I feel lucky to have been a part of the program as a child and remain committed to ensuring generations to come receive the amazing experiences I did.