About MUSE

The Symphony’s MUSE Program is a multi-component music education and enrichment initiative that serves young people at public schools and community sites throughout Oakland. By providing these programs free to participants, the Symphony ensures that each year thousands of young people have access to a variety of music education and enrichment activities, regardless of their economic situation.

“The MUSE program is a lifeline in difficult times. It’s not just a token – it’s keeping the music program afloat in Oakland. It’s the tipping point between success and failure.”

~Ted Allen, former Instrumental Director, Skyline and Oakland Technical HS

March 2020 marked the onset of distant learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All engagement visits and teaching artists adapted their work with students into an on-line format which will continue to inspire students as we continue our partnership with OUSD into 2020-21. MUSE will be there for our community as our programs continue to captivate and excite the students about music, encouraging a lifelong passion for the art of sound.

On June 3, 2020, the Oakland Symphony released an organizational video for our community to feel the power and healing of music in support of our mission throughout Oakland and beyond. This heart-felt video project included many of our MUSE students.

MUSE Programs 

Over 2,500 students are served through our “In” and “After” school by MUSE. Across the Oakland Unified School District students work with professional musician mentors from the Symphony as part of the In-School Mentor and After School programs.

In-School Mentor Program

Mentors lead small group coaching and private instruction to improve students’ technique, interpretation, ensemble skills, and repertoire comprehension. Over 400 students per year receive specialized instrumental instruction on a one‐on‐one basis in a school district where music teachers are each responsible for teaching classes of up to 60 students.

After-School Program

The MUSE after-school program has multiple components: The MUSE Orchestra, open and free to all students in Oakland Public Elementary Schools, provides students with a weekly activity that encourages teamwork and provides a sense of accomplishment. The MUSE Orchestra teaches basic ensemble skills, such as intonation and rhythm, with the goal of providing students the experience of performing as part of an orchestra at several concerts throughout the school year.

During the 2020-21 season, we will continue our program through distance learning with exciting new lessons, focusing on musicianship and individual skills.  Each student is invited to bring their own voice to our program sessions.  We will emerge into ensemble playing when the time is right, taking the lead from the school district, keeping safety as a priority.  Registration for 2020-21 is now open and the first session is Wednesday October 7, 2020.

MUSE Orchestra Registration

The MUSE VIVO Orchestra was launched in January 2013 for middle school students advancing out of the MUSE Orchestra. MUSE VIVO is open to Oakland students in grades 7 – 12 and provides a deeper level of music practice and performance. Sixteen to 20 practice sessions over the course of five months provide orchestral experience and instruction above and beyond their MUSE Orchestra training. The MUSE VIVO Orchestra performs in several concerts as an independent orchestra, as well as alongside the MUSE Orchestra.

During the 2020-21 season, we will continue our VIVO program through distant learning with focus on small groups and individual skills.  As with the MUSE Orchestra, we will emerge into ensemble playing when the time is right.  Registration for 2020-21 is now open and the frist session is Thursday November 5, 2020.

MUSE VIVO Registration

Every year, students at schools and community programs throughout the East Bay receive School Visits from Maestro Michael Morgan, musicians from the Symphony, or members of the MUSE and MUSE VIVO orchestras to excite them about music and playing an instrument. Middle and high school students also participate in Master Classes to further their knowledge of music theory and ensemble performance, while younger students receive visits and mini performances from Symphony musicians, and attend concerts performed by their peers in the MUSE Orchestras. To request a socially distant school visit by Maestro Michael Morgan and/or Symphony musicians click here.

Amy Likar, Flautist-Oakland Symphony, and Hannah Paulus, Cellist-Oakland Youth Orchestra Alum, give a socially distant concert to Oakland students enrolled in Oakland Parks and Recreation TOWN CAMP.

STAY TUNED for upcoming educational video content.  The Teaching Artists are in planning mode with their primary partners of OUSD, creating and adapting in partnership.

MUSE In Action

“This is the Way that We Open the Door”

Classical KDFC Playground Pop-Up concert series from Spring 2018, featuring top-notch performers from the Oakland Symphony in the informal setting of a public elementary school playground

“I Can’t Live Without Music”

Michael Morgan, Oakland Unified School Districts teachers, a student and his parent describe how the music making of MUSE influences our community.