What is Soundscapes?

Soundscapes is a nonprofit organization that teaches critical life skills to students through music education. At the heart of the organization’s success is the strong belief in the power of music to change lives, and the understanding that all children have valuable contributions to make both musically and to our community. To learn more, visit our About page.

What can music do for your child?

It is widely accepted that the act of learning music has many more advantages in addition to simply being able to play an instrument. For example, learning music has been shown to strengthen executive brain function, enable positive social relationships, improve academic performance, and much more. How do we know it works? We work with an outside evaluator every year to see how our students are progressing.

Learn more on our Outcomes page.

What is the Daily Music Program?

Soundscapes provides free, high-quality music instruction, free instruments, and frequent performance opportunities to students in Newport News. Instruction takes place for two hours after school every weekday during the school year at Carver Elementary School and Greenwood Elementary School. Younger, less advanced students participate for four hours per week; older, more advanced students participate for 10 hours per week. Soundscapes also provides several half-day and full-day summer programs.

During the program, professional musicians use a custom curriculum to teach increasingly complex music theory and practice. The students are divided into levels based on age and ability. By Level 2, students select an instrument, and earn the right to take it home for practice. By Level 3—typically 4th grade—students are actively performing in ensembles. The most advanced students, both musically and socially, are in Level 4, where they will take private lessons, perform in more advanced community groups, and mentor younger students. Performance is an important component of the program and all students have opportunities to share what they learn through concerts.

In addition to intensive music instruction, the program specifically works with students to develop healthy social and emotional behaviors. Soundscapes includes a Behavior Specialist on its staff. As a result of the comprehensive curricula, the students develop the skills required to succeed in school and beyond.

Soundscapes is not just music. It teaches him how to have structure in his life.

Monika Burke, Soundscapes parent

What is Peninsula Youth Orchestra?

In July 2020, Soundscapes assumed management of the Peninsula Youth Orchestra, a 60-year-old ensemble for musicians from 12 to 25. Since 2016 Soundscapes and PYO had been partners, with PYO providing music education and performance opportunities for Soundscapes’ advanced students, and Soundscapes providing transportation, instruments, and tuition for them. The pandemic was a breaking point for the volunteer-run orchestra, and Soundscapes agreed to step in rather than let the orchestra fold. PYO had been on hiatus since March 2020, but Soundscapes re-launched a small PYO ensemble in February 2021 and plans to re-launch PYO at its full capacity in fall 2021. In addition to the small performance ensemble, PYO will also include a wind band and string orchestra for intermediate student musicians and a full orchestra for the most experienced and talented young musicians.