Inspired by the El Sistema program of Venezuela, California Symphony began a Sound Minds pilot program at Downer Elementary in San Pablo in 2012. Now, serving all second through sixth grade students at Downer Elementary who wish to participate, the program remains completely free of charge to students and families.
The Sound Minds Program is the most transformational program I have seen in my 21 years as an elementary school principal.”
—Marco Gonzales, Executive Director of Elementary Schools, West Contra Costa Unified School District
Students receive instruction on violin or cello, as well as chorus, music theory, ensembles, and academic coursework. In addition to building musical skills, the program has proven to enhance academic outcomes: by the time students have participated in our Sound Minds program for one year, math proficiency rates (i.e. the percentage of students testing at grade level or higher) quadruple compared to students who do not participate. Furthermore, Sound Minds contributes directly to character development, as students set and achieve goals, learn communication and problem-solving skills, and gain self-confidence.
Sound Minds has been widely praised by local and national media outlets including NPR, KQED’s California Report, KGO, KCBS, KQED, Contra Costa Times, and San Francisco Chronicle