Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program (JQOP) is a creative youth development program that uses an intensive and unique ensemble-based music curriculum to help underserved children develop the executive functions and social-emotional skills necessary to succeed at school and in life. Students in pre-kindergarten through seventh grade attend the program every weekday for 1.5 hours before school, participating in orchestra rehearsals, general music classes, and group lessons. The morning hours of our program ensure that all students begin the day engaged and energized for academic learning. Students also participate in community-building activities and performances across the city. Students in our advanced ensembles receive leadership and teacher training, and have the opportunity to mentor students in our beginner ensembles. JQOP welcomes any child to participate, regardless of musical ability, cultural background, developmental delays, or financial limitations.
JQOP is inspired by El Sistema, the Venezuelan initiative that uses music education as a vehicle for social change. The El Sistema philosophy of having students help each other through the music-learning process is at the heart of our mission, and as a result, our program creates not only great musicians, but also caring individuals who will grow up to be active members of society. We believe that every child can learn to express music deeply, receive its many benefits, and make different critical life choices as a result of this learning.
We believe that every child can learn to express music deeply, receive its many benefits, and make different critical life choices as a result of this learning.
The mission of Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program is to ensure the long-term social and musical success of our students, and to positively impact them and their families through high-quality music education
The short-term goals of JQOP are to give every child an engaging and fun musical experience, performance opportunities to develop confidence and self-efficacy, high levels of musical proficiency, and a passion for learning that transcends all subjects. JQOP will serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade (adding a grade level each year) to ensure that the following long-term impact goals can become a reality for all students:
Through years of intense study, students will achieve a level of music proficiency considered on par, if not better, than that of students who participate in more traditional music programs. JQOP graduates will have the required skills to audition for any college or university music school, including renowned conservatories and summer festivals. Through participation in many performances at high levels of proficiency, students will gain confidence and self-efficacy that will improve their resiliency and growth mindset.
Students will gain the necessary executive functions and social-emotional skills to succeed at school and in life. Every ensemble performs regularly, both at school and around Boston, thus giving students safe opportunities to take risks. These frequent “experiences of success” help students build their sense of self-efficacy and personal fulfillment. While traditional music programs focus on individual student success, JQOP trains students to work together as an ensemble to achieve greatness of sound. This focus on collaboration, rather than competition, fosters responsibility, sensitivity, leadership, and cooperative learning among children.
Students who participate in the program at the middle and high school levels will receive leadership training, and eventually teacher training, and be given the opportunity to work as paid Teaching Artists for the elementary school ensembles. This training includes how to be an active and responsive listener, take initiative instead of always waiting for direction, problem-solve with other students, and encourage others through critical and positive feedback. Students will learn the value of organization, planning, and punctuality. Students will graduate high school with work experience.
Children with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is static. Conversely, students who believe that intelligence can be improved have a growth mindset, and are more likely to succeed academically. With the right kind of intervention, students can be switched from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. JQOP teachers send positive growth mindset messages, thus helping students understand that just as their music proficiency can improve, so does their ability to learn.
Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program was founded in 2011 by Graciela Briceno and Principal Simon Ho. As someone who did not have the opportunity to learn an instrument as a child, Principal Ho dreamed of having an orchestra at his elementary school that was both accessible and affordable for all students.
In its first year, the orchestra program served 50 students with four hours of music instruction per week. In subsequent years JQOP grew by adding new faculty, serving more children, and increasing the number of hours per week of music instruction.
In 2013 JQOP created a Kindergarten Musicianship class, with a focus on general music, paper orchestra, beginner strings, and community development from an early age (this is now the Mozart Orchestra).
In 2015, a new partnership began with Josiah Quincy Upper School to continue serving students who had graduated from the elementary school. This new partnership focused on Chamber Music & Leadership, for middle school students who wanted to advance their musical studies and leadership skills.
In 2017, JQOP launched the Beethoven Ensemble for students with Special Needs. The Beethoven Ensemble serves 45 students with physical and mental disabilities during the school day, providing singing, rhythm, and simple instrumental instruction.
Students in the morning program are enrolled in one of six ensembles: Mozart Orchestra (kindergarten), Rimsky Orchestra (younger beginners), Sibelius Orchestra (intermediate), Villa-Lobos Orchestra (intermediate), Boulanger Orchestra (older beginners), or Vivaldi Chamber Orchestra (advanced). Every ensemble meets five mornings per week, alternating between full orchestra rehearsals, instrument sectionals, and general music lessons. A student’s progress through the orchestra system is based on his/her musical and social development. Students who are struggling to master the music skills being taught during ensemble rehearsals receive additional lessons from volunteers from New England Conservatory, Tufts Medical Center, and Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
Once per month JQOP hosts a Coffee Hour Concert Series for all students, teachers, families, and supporters to come together for coffee, conversation, and music performances featuring JQOP students, Teaching Artists, and guest musicians from the Boston Community. The purpose of these events is to remind students that they are a part of something that is bigger than themselves and their individual ensembles while having an opportunity to support their peers and instructors. JQOP offers three evening concerts per year, and each ensemble also performs at various events throughout Boston, such as the annual Tufts Medical Center Lunar New Year Celebration and El Sistema Boston Showcase, Boston Children's Museum, HUBWeek, Boston Public Library, MFA Boston, the State House and Symphony Hall.
El Sistema programs focus on peer teaching and mentoring at all levels. In addition to having students in the advanced orchestras teach group lessons to beginners, JQOP has a middle school Chamber Music & Leadership class. Given that chamber music is written for small ensembles and performed without a conductor, it is an excellent opportunity for students to develop leadership and communication skills. JQOP chamber music groups perform regularly, including twice per year for patients at Tufts Medical Center and at the Golden Age Senior Life Center in Chinatown.