Education programs at SOPAC are supported in part by New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Orange Orphan Society, National Endowment for the Arts, George A. Ohl, Jr. Trust and Frank and Lydia Bergen Foundation.
Classical Music, Strings
Since 2016, the Classical Music, Strings Residency has paired the Orange School District’s only instrumental strings teacher and their students with a professional musician and Teaching Artist to provide students with long-term, sequential, classical music instruction in the elementary and high schools. The incredible growth of the program and noticeable improvement of the students’ skills illustrates these students are eager to learn and achieve.
The Orange School District of 5,500 students has just one strings instructor. Each school year in its first five years, this residency served 30-50 students. In 2021, the number of students served increased more than threefold to approximately 100.
In 2018, the program began offering a violin to every student to allow for individual at-home practice which was previously impossible due to an insufficient number of playable instruments.
In 2019, the Orange High School students earned “Superior” scores at the High Note Festival’s State Competition.
In 2022, SOPAC’s music residency was awarded a highly selective Challenge America grant funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The South Orange Middle School Jazz Ensemble was launched in 2021. The program has been created to present students with the opportunity to meet, learn and play with professional Jazz musicians as well as provide free or discounted access to Jazz performances at SOPAC.
SOPAC partners with the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation through AileyDance Kids, to offer a dance residencies in the South Orange and Maplewood School District (SOMSD).
The program was initiated in 2018 in the SOMSD middle schools, serving approximately 120 seventh and eighth grade students each year in a 16-week residency. An 8-week Choreographers’ Workshop was introduced to Columbia High School in 2019 and has since expanded to a 12-week program serving the approximately 45 students in the Special Dance Company.
In 2021, the residency was expanded to South Mountain Elementary School where is serves approximately 60 students each school year.
Students take pride in the opportunity to share what they’ve learned over the course of their dance residency with culminating performances at which they celebrate their achievements with their classmates, families and school community.